Please welcome Michele DeFilippo, who has agreed to do some guest blogs for me in the coming week. Here she talks about editing from the point of view of an editor.
a major achievement to write a book. I certainly couldn’t do it. But
sometimes an author is just too close to the material to be objective. After
many rewrites and even more readings, your brain “fills in the blanks” and sees
what it expects to see.
You may know what you mean to say, but the text may be
less clear to someone reading it for the first time. The fresh eyes of an
editor can be a real benefit.
Hiring an experienced editor, rather than a friend or
relative who happens to be an English teacher, is very important. A good editor
does much more than fix your grammar; he or she improves a book’s content and
structure in a way that preserves the author’s style. Just as important, he or
she finds and corrects both major and minor errors.
For example, our editor once found a mistake in a
cookbook—a collection of easy supper recipes using pre-cooked rotisserie
chickens from the grocery store. At the front of the book, the author provided
a warning that these recipes were to be made only with cooked chicken, never
with uncooked chicken. All well and good. But our editor noticed that within
each recipe itself, the list of ingredients simply said “chicken.” Of course,
the author knew what she meant, but in real life, people flip through a
cookbook and don’t always re-read the first pages. This one little correction,
changing “chicken” to “cooked chicken,” probably prevented a lot of bellyaches
Having your book edited is money well spent. An editor
won’t rob you of your style; he or she will enhance your style. Many freelance
editors have their own Web sites, in which they outline their credentials,
philosophy of editing, and rates. It’s important to find an editor who has
worked on books similar to yours. (For example, an editor whose expertise is in
children’s books is probably not the best person to edit your historical novel
or economics textbook.) Once you’ve contacted an editor about possibly working
with him or her, the editor will generally ask to see a sample of your book.
Have no fear that he or she is going to steal your book idea. The editor simply
wants to give you an accurate price quote, so that there is no misunderstanding
later. In fact, beware of any editor who will give you a quote without seeing
at least part of your book first.
After a thorough edit by a professional, your book
will stand up to the tough scrutiny of distributors, reviewers, retailers, and
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