When I set out on my self-publishing journey I knew that I’d need a good editor. I spoke to a friends, found a few people who might help, and sent them firstly my novella. The people I spoke to had varying degrees of warmth – all of them charging a reasonable rate but to me was half a fortune.
Editing is expensive because its work. In my case a LOT (but I’m getting better, I swear!).
People make a living off editing and the self-publishing community’s frustration with the fees is completely negligent of the fact that you’re asking someone to work for you. I’ve worked with many editors over the years but what I found in my first editor was what I’ve looked for in all my other editors.
Support and enthusiasm for my work and that is why you need an editor who works well with you. The same as any professional you want to assist you.
This isn’t just about the time, or the story that’s dear to you. You want people to love it as much as you do and your champion for that story will always be your editor.
When I brought the piece to Scott in 2014 he was keen. He liked the idea of the Last Prophecy series and it was that enthusiasm that drew me to him, but I’ve kept contact and working with him over the years and other projects because I liked what he said.
He didn’t just correct my words, he took the time to tell me why, what I could do to improve, and found the bits of my writing that were good. It was the grounding I needed in becoming a better writer. Your first editor is possibly your most important and making sure you have a good relationship of honesty and constructive criticism is vital to becoming a better writer.
Scott was kind enough to answer a few questions for me this weekend to talk about editing.
How did you become an editor?
I’d just quit a job at a call centre when a friend of a friend needed someone with some science and editing skills. I’d originally studied and worked as a scientist, and had recently finished my Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing course with an eye to improve my writing. Along the way I fell in love with relearning grammar and punctuation rules and editing as a subject. I was able to fuse my previous background and new skills and help with a science textbook. This pretty much kickstarted editing as a career for me, and I’ve since branched out to many kinds of texts.
What kind of editing do you do?
Educational textbooks are my bread-and-butter work. They make up the bulk of my work and the bulk of my income. But I’ll happily edit anything I can get my hands on. My passion is in speculative fiction and roleplaying games, which I’ve edited in, and which often keep me excited to be editing. I’ve worked on self-help books, business books, boardgames, young adult books and children’s books to mention a few others. I also do some manuscript assessment, an area I’m keen to get more involved with.
What is the most rewarding part about it?
There’s a few parts that are rewarding. Finding a manuscript that’s already written well, and making that absolutely shine feels amazing. I also love when I’m able to help an author – could be an emerging writer or an experienced writer – learn something new or even just to find that one idea or twist of phrase to improve a story.
Do you have a part of editing you like more than others?
I try not to be complacent about the work and feel there are always opportunities to improve and fine-tune my abilities as an editor. The editing work keeps me on my toes because of the continual challenge of feeling out and learning about a new project. I like the idea of always being an eternal learner in my work and the particular project I’m working on.
Is there any editing advice you can give writers?
Spend time with your words, no matter how awkward it feels to look at them and rework them. Find new ways to read and experience your words – go for a walk thinking about your story, craft an atmospheric soundtrack to feel out a scene or two, try writing and editing your work in a burbling café, read or experience something new and take something from that into your writing.