Editing – Do-It-Yourself or Hire Out?
Let’s take a peek at the cogs inside the machine and talk about why I write and how I write on Behind the Scenes Sunday! Today I’d like to talk about the extremely important step of editing. You’ve written the book, a gargantuan task in and of itself, but now, now you have to take out your ‘red pen’ and go to work on it, snipping here, tucking there, and shaping it into the wonderful work of art you know it should be.
There’s a lot of discussion out there about self-editing versus professional editing, especially in the independent author and hybrid author communities. But I’m here to tell you right now that people who pit one option against the other are forming a false dichotomy — that is, you don’t need just one or the other in order to be successful. What you need is both.
Every book you write should go through at least one (if not several) rounds of self-editing before you hand it off to anyone else. Why? Because no one else knows the story as well as you do. No one else knows your characters’ voices as well as you, their motivations, the shape of the plot (or the shape you were attempting, anyway), and the sound of your own unique authorial voice. It’s important to preserve all of that while still making improvements to the work and the best way to ensure that that happens is to do it yourself.
That being said, once you’ve polished it to the best of your ability, I think it is paramount that you hand your book over to a professional editor. Why? Because professional editors know what makes book works and what makes books crumple in on themselves like a failed souffle. They, unlike you, are not so close to the work that they can’t see what may need to be cut and discarded — they will not spare your darlings! They haven’t spared anyone else’s!
Editing is what takes your book from a mushy mess to a magnificent masterpiece. It is vitally important that you be a part of that process, not just hand it off to someone else to do. But it’s also important to know your limits and recognize when an outsider’s perspective could benefit you and your work. Don’t be afraid of the editing process — it’s when your book will reach its full potential!