So you’ve finished your book and you’ve hired an editor, right?
Hopefully you hired the right sort of editor…
‘What?‘ you say, ‘there’s more than one type of editor?’
Oh yes, folks, and if you haven’t got that piece of information yet, you need to go do some research. As an overall guide, you will find:
- structural editors
- copy editors
- proof readers
and they won’t be the same person.
Take a look at this post about editors: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kudler/book-editing_b_2990583.html
Anyway, assuming you have that bit sorted, I’m also wondering, did you check your editor out first, before you hired them?
These days, anyone can advertise their services, but it doesn’t mean they are either qualified, or any good at the job. Before you hire them, do your due diligence and check them out:
- take a good look at their website: does it look professional?
- do they have testimonials from satisfied clients, and/or contact detail of where you can ask said clients about them?
- do they offer a sample edit? They should.
For more information on this, check out these posts:
So, to the question posed in the title (remember that?)
What happens when you don’t agree with your editor?
Well, as with so many questions, that depends….
If you are an inexperienced or first time author, I’d highly recommend that you don’t disagree with your editor. You hired them for a reason, didn’t you? And you checked out that they were competent, nay, experienced at their job, so why would you question their advice?
This question is angled more at the author of some experience, with probably a book or two under their belts already, although I am ashamed to say, I question my first editor every step of the way.
Actually, it was a valuable experience, if a bit frustrating for us both.
In this case, I’d sold a book to a publisher, so I was assigned my editor, rather than having a choice. As such, he was, of course, both experienced and knowledgeable of the type and subject of my book. He queried places where he felt readers might be confused. He had me move paragraphs around to make for a more streamlined read. He suggested changing some words, also for clarity. He questioned parts he did not understand.
Frequent cries of: “This stupid man, why doesn’t he understand – it’s obvious!” could be heard, issuing from my room.
I did finally come to accept that most of the points he made were valid, and acted upon them.
At the end, however, I had about five items on his list that I was unwilling to change, and that was when I shared my woes with a good friend, who, happily, is an experienced author with 7 books published at that time. Her advice to me was a revelation.
“Always remember, it’s your book. If you don’t want to change it, you don’t have to.”
I was floored by this. As a first time author, I’d made the assumption that I had to make each and every change my editor called for, or else my publisher would not publish the book.
Oh, how liberating that piece of information! I returned the manuscript with the changes my editor requested, all bar those final five items that I felt strongly should be left as they were, and lo and behold, my book was published, as I wanted it to be.
Now this was non-fiction, but exactly the same applies to fiction: if you’ve written something exactly the way you wanted it to read, and you feel strongly enough about it despite your editor’s suggestions – remember that you don’t have to act on every single suggestion that your editor makes.
Most of the time, they are probably right. But always remember that it’s your book, and you wrote it that specific way, because that’s how you want it to read.
This applies also to line and punctuation suggestions – if you have the experience as an author, you will sometimes break ‘the rules’ deliberately, and that can be about ‘voice’ – that indefinable quality that makes a book specifically and recognisably yours, as opposed to just any old author’s. You may have done it to change a specific emphasis, or because your character’s dialogue needs to be true to them – and who knows your characters best?
Why, you, of course.
So whilst you should always, always take editing suggestions on board, also remember that it is entirely up to you to decide whether to implement them.
How about you? Have you disagreed or ignored any of your editor’s advice?
Go on, be a devil – admit it!