Instructing your editor

Experience: [noun]  Something you obtain only after you needed it.

As I’ve previously mentioned professional editors are for the self published writer a necessity rather than an optional extra and unlike some of our formally published counterparts, it is a very hands on process. There are plenty of blogs and websites on the subject of finding a good one, what I would like to offer is a few notes on the subject of getting the best out of yours.

1) Your editor is not a mind reader they can only do/correct/apply that which you have told them about.

2) You’re the boss. That might sound a little confrontational but ultimately the name on the cover is mine (or yours) not the editor’s. As a self publisher the glory or the blame goes to you, there is no one else to hide behind. So don’t be afraid to alter something they’ve changed. That being said…

3) They’re professionals, take seriously any changes they do make. That change they’ve made that in your mind completely ruins the point you were making, it might not have been clear to them. You should never be too precious about your work, take a long hard look at it again.

4) Internal rules. Depending on your genre you may have unspoken rules that effect the way you’ve wrote a section. I write science fiction and as an example I offer a recent personal experience. One of my alien races don’t use the word ‘and’; this was mostly to introduce an alieness to their speech, while keeping it understandable. Unfortunately I forgot to mention this to my editor and I refer you back to point one.

5) Give instructions in writing. It doesn’t need to be much more than a basic list but it can avoid a lot of problems or duplication of labour.  An example might be names of characters, are some referred to by their first names and other surnames? Have you applied certain conventions? Ultimately what format is your work going to be produced in? The better the editor understand what he/she is working towards the better the result is likely to be.

6) Watch for widow and orphan control. If you are wondering what that means, it is putting in breaks so you don’t have a single word from a sentence on a line on it’s own. It is a process for making a page of text look more balanced and attractive. It is also totally dependent on the physical page size. Since there is no such thing as a fixed page size on a e-reader it will result in random line breaks which makes your work look shoddy. If you are setting up your book on Print on Demand, then it can only be applied once you know your page size. So in short, instruct your editor not to do widow and orphan control.

7)  Finally, once you have your manuscript back, read through it again. Ultimately the buck stops with you; make sure you know exactly what is going out in your name.

So those are my words of wisdom, which hopefully maybe of some help to some of you.

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Filed under science fiction, Self Publishing, Writing

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