Sending the Kids Off to School

You’ve had them to yourself for a long time. Perhaps years. You’ve done your best by them. You’ve tried to raise them up right.

But face it. You don’t know everything. It’s time to call in the professionals.

I’m talking, of course, about when it comes time to send your manuscript off to an editor.

The fact that you need an editor may be very obvious to you, especially if grammar, spelling and punctuation is not your strong suit. But editors do a lot more than correct your spelling. They look for continuity, consistency errors, accuracy, and most important of all, give you a sense of objectivity that you won’t get regardless of how good an editor you are yourself.

It’s tempting for some of us. I’ll admit it. I’m a tightwad, and spent five years as a newspaper editor, seven years editing in public relations, followed by ten years as a book and magazine editor. So it’s really hard for me to admit that my manuscripts need someone else’s eyes on them. But they do.

Compare it to a child’s education. Home school is great. You may even be a great teacher that decides to home school your children. But if you are the only person who teaches your children, they will likely suffer because they will only see the world from one person’s perspective. Some people want that. But you can’t afford to do that with a book manuscript. You have to have at least one more set of eyes looking at it before it goes to press.

Better yet, in addition to your editor, get some beta readers. Find some people who reflect the demographic of your intended audience. Ask them if they would be willing to read your rough work and provide input. Make sure you find people you know will give you honest input AND will actually read the manuscript. I mention that second part, because a couple of times I’ve asked students to help me out, only to have them run out of gas before they finish.

Right now, my manuscript Soul Survivor has been edited by me four times. Since my tried-and-true editor Celeste Perrino is no longer available, I’ve hired a former student and author in her own right, Tiffany Wellborn, to be my editor. I know she’ll be thorough and look forward to her comments. It’s critical that you have faith in your editor, and recognize that you don’t know everything. We’ll see the results of her efforts in coming weeks.