Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adventures in Editing ~ What I've Learned

I wanted to give an update on how editing is going for me. Honestly, this has been the hardest week I've ever had writing. Editing, for me at least, is an exercise in patience. I hear some people rave about how much they love editing and it is their favorite part of the process. I wish this were true for me!

My editor, Stephanie Pace, is absolutely fabulous. She did much more work than I paid for. I honestly feel bad about how much she did, never understanding how difficult the job of copy editor must be.  I'm hiring her to do my proof read when I finish the revisions, and I'm very grateful to have found her.

I tried very hard to be a low-maintenance client, only sending in questions once for each set of chapter submissions she sent me, and limiting those questions to things I truly didn't understand. Stephanie was very patient when I did ask questions and tried to incorporate things more into the next batch of edits if she found I had a hard time understanding what she said. I think it is important to work with an editor you trust. If you find one, hold onto him/her!

The perk to self publishing remains in that I don't have to take her advice. Even though I do understand this, it has been a very hard thing for me to implement. I've found some of her ideas do not mesh with the book I intended to write and would change my novel completely. However, a part of me worries if I don't take her advice, I might do something wrong and ruin my chance to make my book the best it can be. This has led to a lot of rewrites, which I then realize are wrong for my novel after changing things.

I think this is where a lot of writers struggle. How do you know when what you've written is good enough? Although ten different people (only one of them a friend/family member) read my book before I sent it to the editor and each expressed their enjoyment in my creation, I'm still left looking at the editor's suggestions and wondering if it's really okay to ignore her advice.

Silly, perhaps, but there it is. So I write, rewrite, hate the new stuff, reread the old version, love that, plug it back in, move on. The reason I keep doing this, however, is because several of the ideas she shared are so great, so mind-blowingly brilliant, I know my book is better for taking that advice.

Perhaps when I have more experience I will be able to objectively look at the editor's advice in the future, accept the changes she suggest that are wonderful, and reject the ones that don't match my vision before I rewrite the scene. For now, I slough through it all, frustrated if the new scene doesn't work, but even more grateful when something she inspired enriches a scene far beyond what I first imagined.

Through it all, my critique partners have been there for me. Thank goodness for them! They have been willing to read through some of the new scenes, tell me what's better, what's worse, what they loved about my book before and wish I wouldn't mess with. It's a great help to me on this frightening journey toward perfecting my novel.

I'm at the half-way point in my revisions and I will be happy when the major rewrites are done.  Then, I'll send Always & Forever off for the proof read and move on to the next book. That's when the fun starts for me. First draft is my favorite part of the writing process. 

Happy writing! I'm wishing you a productive week!


  1. Hello Chantel,

    I just finished revising Only In Her Dreams. This was suppose to be my big re-write and then a future editing session to fix minor stuff. Well, I may need another complete re-haul/over-haul! Next step, my editor.

    Great job of getting to the half-way point.

    The first draft is what I look forward to the most.

    Thanks for posting an update.

  2. Reading your editor's notes always causes period of self-doubt. But at the end, your work is richer because she took the time to not just correct grammatical mistakes, but to give you her overall opinion of the story.

    I'm glad your editor and crit partners have been so vocal in their opinions. In the end, it is up to you to sift and choose.

  3. Self-doubt is normal, and I'll warn you now- you'll probably never get rid of it. I have five e-books out now, and before every release I get sick to my stomach wondering if people will actually like what I've produced. Until you start getting feedback from reviewers or readers, you just don't know. I hope somewhere down the road I can kick the self-doubt completely, but I doubt it.
    And the editing is a wonderful necessary evil. I love learning from it, and every editor that I've had has taught me something new. So, embrace the process and know your work will be better for it.

  4. It is tricky trying to figure out which advice is right for you and your book. I am in a critique group (there are three other people) and the advice each gives can be quite different. I had one person say they'd have thrown the book across the room and never picked it up again after reading one scene - which wasn't easy to hear - but then the others said they loved that scene. But, when all three people identify the same issue - it is easy to see that something needs to be addressed. So, you have to try to balance what feels appropriate, understand the background of the people you ask to crit, and hope for the best. Trust yourself. :)

    Good luck!

  5. Thank you all for your comments! I've been out for a bit sick, so sorry for not replying sooner. It's a little disheartening to hear that editors will always cause me anxiety - LOL. I'd hoped it was something you got better with at time. However, as I go through I am finding it a bit easier to recognize what I like and what hurts the story I intended. I guess that's all we can do, right?

    Thank you all so much for your comments and sharing your knowledge/experience with me. Have a great week!


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