Since you last heard from me, I have gone from a rinky-dink odd project here and there editor to steady freelance. I even work consistently with a publishing company now. Furthermore, I’ve gotten to do some speaking engagements to share my knowledge and the secrets of editing I wished people had shared with me when I dreamed of being in the industry but had no clue where to go.
Here are some little tips I have noticed and learned through my projects:
Start slow if you have to
On my first foray, I printed off the manuscript and bought some red editor’s pencils. I was determined to do my editing the way in-house editors said you should. I wanted to do two read-throughs of the manuscript before sending it back to the author/publisher. However, I soon found that particular method took a lot longer than I had hoped. While many folks cite time as the reason editing services have lessened (from the editors), or why they (writers) choose to get editing on the cheap, I refused to let that be the case.
So when my second manuscript came along, I started with another printout. However, I found it was twice as hard to transfer my edits to the screen. I quickly realized I didn’t have to do it that way anymore.
Trust yourself. Honestly.
I have this funny gift and a curse. I’m a very slow reader. The school system said I was dyslexic growing up. Of course, they didn’t know or care what to do with it at the time. They felt they could cure me by making me read as much as five times the amount of books everyone else had to. My mom worked with me to make sure I didn’t fall behind in my learning, and I guess we somehow came up with a technique that got me by. It’s been my gift ever since.
You see, I’m supremely focused, or conscientious, as they called it in school. I may be a slow reader, but I only have to read things once. I have a great memory for all sorts of information and see the details too. I’ve had times where I’m at a roundtable with publishers and authors and I go on and on about their plots and characters. It quickly becomes apparent to the room that I’m an expert on their works, and I’m passionate about them, because I know the work as much as the author does. Sometimes I know even more than they can remember!
I’m not saying you have to somehow hone this kind of skill. I’m just glad I have something going for me, something to be proud of. However, what I found is that I can trust myself to read a manuscript once, or one and a half times. I’ve known about this skill for a long time, and it hasn’t changed. I know that I can recall all the details of the plots after I read them, and because I’m a detail-focused person, any anomalies stand out instantly.
If I have a writer add more information, write new paragraphs or chapters, I tell them to send it back so that I have a chance to go over it a second time. After all, most of us have witnessed the little typos that sneak in when we make even the simplest changes.
Since I know what I am capable of, I don’t have to force myself into someone else’s work routine. I can take their method and adapt it to my own way of doing things. But let me stress this part, because it’s the most important, be honest about what you can and can’t do. Be an honest worker. If you need to give yourself extra read-throughs, then make sure you allot for that in your work schedule. You just have to ask yourself, what am I comfortable sending out into the world? Will I be able to say that I gave it my all to make this book the very best?
Break it down into chunks
Another method I’ve found useful for both myself and the authors I work with is breaking down the edits into smaller parts. I’ve settled on doing it in quarters. I do the first quarter and send it to the author. That gives them a chance to make adjustments and review while I work on the next part or two. Sometimes I look it over again while working on another section, but most times I won’t touch the reworked first part again until the end of the entire first edit. I don’t like being all over the place. I also get too excited to know the entire story someone has crafted not to keep going forward in my reading.
Also, I found this as a weird mind trick, when I do my quarter breakdowns I also divide that by the number of days until my deadline and take that as my minimum amount of work per day. I find that seeing small numbers, or at least knowing my numbers helps to take the pressure off.
That’s it for my three tips today. I’m heading back to the editing desk for more work. I’m still open for new projects if anyone would like.
Photos curtesy of: D A V I D S O N L U N A