Here I am writing my first novel. I’ve written technical documents, company procedures, training manuals, several emails and the odd cheque now and again. Probably much the same as you have. The natural extension, therefore, is to write a novel, isn’t it?
So, I researched several resources to make sure I had a clear run at the stepping-stones across the raging river called ‘Little Do You Know’.
I was on the bank of the ‘Great Unpublished’ and stood staring across at the crowded side of the river of the book waving fraternity (picture the Stock Exchange with it’s finger in the socket) but I couldn’t see the path of flat stones for the jagged rocks. And we all know what they cut don’t we?
Whilst I still had my feet dry, I thought I’d trawl the waters and see if it could throw up some ideas to navigate the depths. The one piece of advice that kept surfacing was the need to get an Editor, and one you can trust.
So, I went looking for one and, do you know what I found? My word, there are more Editors than there are Authors, I swear. But, how do you choose the right one to employ? Get it wrong and I could end up down a path that either took me safely across the water or washed away downstream, completely off course and several pounds (the monetary kind) lighter. Looking back now I can see it’s definitely not a decision to be taken lightly.
It’s not the same thing as getting friends or family to read your text. It’s not the same thing as someone offering to read your book for free. Oh, you’ll get nice comments or a response that says why they do or don’t like the book, it’s friendly and a good source of feedback. But it’s not the same thing; that’s so important I said it twice.
You need someone who’s going to pass their opinion, of course you do, but you need someone that’s going to explain why, live through it with you and invest themselves in the story: a critic, an associate, a friend. Someone who doesn’t care about your feelings but at the same time cares about your feelings – you still with me?
Those grammar and these spellinks is important, but not anywhere near half as much as the essence of what you’re trying to convey, the heart of your story.
How do you select someone that you’re going take on this journey and possibly work with for the rest of your writing life?
This is what I did:
Consumer Reviews are fine, but I never trust them fully, not really, do you? OK, maybe in part. But I needed my own view, because if it was going to go wrong, I wanted to blame me. After finding a fair few I asked them some questions and see where that took us. A few answered, a lot didn’t, so that whittled it down straight away.
Then I found I was having a conversation with a couple, it felt like they weren’t trying to sell themselves for the job. They wanted to understand me and the story.
I wasn’t looking for a bog standard response, but one that seemed personable, a partner, an associate, a friend, someone that I could consider would care about my baby, but be honest enough to say ‘that’s one ugly kid you’ve got there!’
And then it happened, I found two. The sensible conclusion then was – I hired both. Now, I know, I know: the cost, blah blah. But the added value they provided was immense. They weren’t that expensive either. I paid the same for the two as I did for the bog standard corporate offering.
The added value they provided? The essence of the story wasn’t lost, it was understood. When I deviated, and you will too if you cross that river, being pulled back on track is worth it’s weight in whatever you hold valuable.
Do, the trawl, check the reviews, make sure the editor is capable of the technical and then make sure they can relate to you – The Author. But also make sure you’re comfortable that they can recognise the blood in your book. The only way you can do that is to talk and spend some time getting to know them, give them some time to get to know you.
If you want to find out more about who and why I choose my Editors in a lot more detail, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org