The fearsome editor
After their work goes off to the editor, I like to warn my clients that what they get back might be very scary: an unrecognisable document laden with highlights and lots of red tracked changes.
Don’t worry, I say, it always looks worse than it is, and remember – these are just suggestions.
It’s natural to be a little intimidated — your editor’s a professional after all, and his or her word is gospel, right?
Well — not exactly. Your editor usually plays two roles: one is to rid your manuscript of errors — typing mistakes and things you just didn’t mean to say. And then the second role is to consider how clearly you are expressing yourself. What might be missing, what might be cut back, what might be rearranged to give your reader a better experience. And, if you picked well, then your editor will see the structure that you don’t see — he or she will see what you really meant to say, rather than what you did actually say.
What to expect
When you first get that document back you’ll want to remember a couple of things.
First of all, you should be grateful that someone has corrected all those ‘errors’. Those spelling mistakes, and the places we unintentionally use the wrong word – our brains moving faster than our fingers.
Words like from and form (guilty!), their and there, your and you’re (please, this is a book, not a text message!).
And then there are all the other changes:
- Phrases that are not ‘technically’ grammatically correct.
- Sentences that might sound better if expressed differently.
- Your choice of terminology — words that will be understood by your reader but that may not be in common usage.
- And plain and simple re-drafts. Parts of your text that your editor thinks you don’t go deep enough for your reader. Maybe you’re assuming a level of knowledge your reader does not have. Or maybe she does.
Your editor is not you
And I want you to tap into your authentic voice. Your book should be written from the heart. In a way that creates a real and engaging connection with your reader.
Your editor has an amazing expertise. He or she has a skill and a talent to communicate the written word clearly. But — remember — their voice is not your voice.
When you are writing your book, you are making a connection with your reader – and it’s just like any other form of communication – you want to be clear, of course, but you also want to be you.
You want to tap into your authentic voice. To write your book from the heart. In a way that creates a real and lasting connection with your reader. And that means that there are times when it’s OK to say ‘NO’ to your editor.
Thanks, but this time I’ll pass.
It’s about more than the book
Behind your book, you have other ambitions. You want to inspire and teach. You want a reader to connect with you beyond the book – maybe something as simple as ‘I’d love you to send me an email’; maybe you have business aspirations and you want to promote your online programme or let your readers know about a conference or workshop you are hosting. Or maybe hire you in some context.
Whatever this bigger reason for writing, your reader is going to like and trust you more quickly if it’s actually you they are getting to know.
Now don’t get me wrong – I insist all my clients and students hire an editor — it’s essential!
I truly value their expertise and input to the process. But many of my clients think they are getting back a manuscript with ‘corrections’. And that’s not what this is about.
Your editor is there to be a second eye. To take your work and see how it can be improved. Possibly. And then it’s down to you to say yes or no to those suggestions. Feel very free to ‘reject’ a tracked change that doesn’t feel like you as well as ‘accept’ a great suggestion that adds value and flow to your writing.
Own your work
Stand firm for your message — what you say.
And, importantly, stand firm for how you say it. It’s OK sometimes to say no to your editor.
Express yourself in your authentic voice. It will always make for a better book.
At the end of the day, it’s your work. Own it.
Over To You… Leave Us A Comment on Social Media