Tag: Editors

How to Get the Most Out of the Editing Process

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When you hand your masterpiece over to someone to fix, tweak, tighten, or double-check, make sure you are very clear about your expectations.  Not all editors have the same focus or technique and rather than assume he/she will bring you the results you are looking for it is up to you to communicate what you want.

For instance, let’s say you sent out  a resume or a blog to five people for their edits and feedback.  Chances are that besides common grammatical issues, each one of the edited versions would be different.  Why?  Because editing is a subjective process if little direction is provided.

Maintaining Your Voice

Just as we each have a unique style, diction, tone and delivery in our verbal communications, so are we different in our writing styles.  If you tend to write in long sentences and your editor is more concise and direct, guess what?  Most often, your piece will come back reading like him or her and not like you.  Sure, the content will be tightened, which has tremendous value but you may have lost your voice in the process.  This is particularly important if you are a speaker or consistently appear in the media, in which case your audience is expecting your book to sound like you do on stage, television or the radio.

Tip:  Tell your editor that you insist on the piece remaining authentic to your voice. For instance, combining all of your fragmented sentences or shortening the descriptive ones may “read” better from a grammar perspective, but it may also create a disconnect with your followers who expect it to sound like you.  Think celebrity Twitter updates – you can probably tell who writes their own and who has ghost-tweeters.

Honoring Your Audience

By the time you have reached any editing stage, you are very clear about who you are addressing in your book.  You know the demographics and you have kept them in mind while you crafted your content.  Make sure your editor is also very clear to whom you are speaking.  Just because you are writing a management book does not mean your audience are college-educated, experienced managers.  You may have decided to tap into the new manager market and if your editor is not aware of your primary focus, he/she may rewrite your content for a higher level of reader.

Tip:  Provide the demographics to your editor upfront. Be clear about your decision to use the phrases and examples you have included so your manuscript does not come back unrecognizable and you have not alienated your audience.

Communicating your template

You may have brought in an editor at an earlier stage of the writing process, perhaps to perform the role of collaborator.  This relationship can have a learning curve to it as he/she works through providing the meat of the content in the way that you prefer.  There is no reason for you to spend your time redlining a piece to death and crushing the spirit of your collaborator because you did not get what you wanted the way you wanted it.

Tip:  Provide samples and templates. If you have already produced similar pieces, provide them to your collaborate as well as a detailed description of the points you want addressed and the format you are expecting.

Matching Your Styles

In addition to having similar writing styles, it is important to also find someone who matches up with your style of content.  Your uncle who is an academic clinician should not be editing your non-fiction parenting book.

Tip:  Research your editor’s past and present clients. Is there a similarity in both topic and audience?  Make sure there is a solid fit rather than just going with your first referral.

Protecting Your Ego

Even though 82% of people surveyed said they had a book inside of them and intended to write one some day, very few have the one thing to follow through with their dream – and it’s not what most people talk about.  It is not a lack of time or talent.  It’s courage.  Many people lack the courage to put their thoughts, expertise and opinions on paper for the whole world to see.  It takes a thick skin to be criticized when there is no taking back what is now in written form.  You will have people say they don’t agree with you, that your sentences are too long, that you didn’t cover the topics they were interested in, and so on.  Writing is a very personal process and it can be easy to have your feelings hurt when your pride and joy comes back looking wounded.

Tip:  Remember the reason you started writing in the first place. If you were determined to tell your story, teach or motivate others, or be a valued resource, then do it.  Make sure your editor knows your motivation (he/she should have asked you that during your first meeting.)  You can’t please everyone so don’t try to be everything.  Ask your editor for constructive feedback and in some cases make them explain their thought process behind the changes.

Interview and hire your editor the same way you would a key employee in your company.  Your editor should stay consistent with your vision and mission, represent your brand well, and in the end, make you look damn good!