D Michelle Gent, talks about her job as an editor, knowing me and being my editor and Awesome Magazine.
Don't forget to pop over the Facebook event page for Day Four of our Blog Launch Party for a chance to win a copy of Paula Lofting's historical novel Sons of the Wolf
I have the honour of being asked (threatened) by Paula Lofting to do a post on what I do in the world of writerly things.
First and foremost I’m a writer who has learned over the years how to edit. I’m self-taught for the most part but because I have a capability of spotting anomalies, I decided to take a course on Editing to get an accreditation – yes, some would call it being ‘anal’ about errors or a Grammar Nazi but I actually can’t help seeing them, it’s a ‘gift’ – sometimes a dubious, annoying one, but a gift, nonetheless.
This career branch-out has brought friendships from unexpected places – who knew that picking fault with someone’s ‘baby’ would lead to writer and critic becoming friends? That’s not to say that everyone is pleased with the errors I point out – even if I've been asked to (I don’t often point them out if I haven’t been asked to) – but for the most part, I try to show a writer where they are going wrong in a manner that I would like to be told. Believe me, I send my own writing out to an Editor, it’s true, you really cannot see your own mistakes.
I do NOT subscribe to the practice of Author Bashing – I’ve had it done to me and it has to be the worst feeling ever. There is never a reason to be spiteful or unkind about a piece of work; constructive criticism is the only way. I include ‘keeping your gob shut about it’ too, that doesn't help the writer see the errors and improve their writing.
I’m also another kind of Editor in that I oversee AWESOME online magazine. The magazine has been running for over a year. We’ve had a bit of a break for the past few months but I’m putting a team together to get it back up to speed – watch this space. Well, this space www.awesomeonlinemagazine.com
Now on to my friendship with Paula Lofting - Author of the historic novels: ‘Sons of the Wolf’ and ‘Wolf Banner’. I have to admit (don’t tell her) that I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, she has researched the period well – I’m impressed by her knowledge of the time, the people she writes about and how she grabs the reader and puts them right in the middle of the story. It’s no mean feat to involve someone in your writing to the extent that they actually feel like they’re there but Paula not only manages it, she nails it.
There are still a few things to iron out in her manuscript but the story is the main thing. The details are down to the editor and author to hammer out between them I think.
If there are pieces of advice I’d give to a writer when working with an editor, they would be these:
The editor is supposed to work with you – not for you. Editing is a fluid process and if you get the right one, you’ll be loath to have to find a new one.
If the process involves you sending the manuscript off to be edited and it comes back ‘done and ready to go’ (or worse still, ‘sent to the printer already’) then you’re not doing your job and the editor isn't doing theirs.
Go over the changes – they should be marked clearly for you to see what they believe is wrong or should/could be changed.
If you don’t agree with something, speak with the editor, ask questions; find out why they believe you made a mistake and either learn from it or disagree with it but you have to ask.
Once you are satisfied with the changes, read the manuscript again. I see your eyes look to the ceiling and I hear your sigh of ‘do I have to?’ but believe me, if you can’t bear to read and re-read your work, then no-one else will. You’ll be surprised at how many things you find when you’re no longer reading in the first flush of excitement. Once the story is more than familiar to you that will be when most errors are spotted.
Ask if your editor looks for plot-holes, continuity, clichés, ‘show and tell’ and my favourite – ‘head hopping’. Some do, others don’t but if you expect them to be looking for these things and they aren’t, then you’re going to be disappointed – ask first.
I suppose the last thing to advise is the most important: Get recommendations from people you know and respect. The last thing you need is to find out that the editor you chose ‘made a hatchet job on my last novel’.
Yes I’m an editor but the advice I give is “Yes you need an editor. It doesn’t matter whether it’s me you choose or not but for the sake of your books – this one and the rest, get your work edited and give it the best start in ‘life’ that you can.”
D Michelle Gent
Links to Michelle's Amazon books