What makes me laugh about the title of this article is that I am friends with many of my clients. However, when I’m editing their work, I put away my friendship hat and don my editor’s cap. Once my red computer glasses go on, I’m all about making things professional.
While it’s great to have buddies who will encourage your writing no matter what, if you’re an indie author who’s serious about publishing a polished product, you need an editor. I’m not saying this because I want more clients; I’m an author myself, and I cannot edit my own work like someone else can. The reality is that after a while, you don’t recognize your own manuscript’s flaws anymore. You’ll perceive what you’ve intended to write and not what you’ve actually written.
Editors who are worth paying for will be on board with you, so you have a shared vision of making your manuscript the best it can be. That might come with a sting at times. I’ve had to deliver news where I needed to request a resubmit, because there was too much to change. Sometimes there’s homework the author must do to get a manuscript editor-ready. (By the way, I wrote Seven Tips for Preparing a Happy, Shiny Manuscript to help authors with this!) Other times, I’m marking up my findings and adding comments in the margins when I need to question things, make suggestions, or explain my reasoning behind changes that I think should happen.
My job is to tell you what your friends might not want to say. You want that, trust me, because if I spot things, then most likely people who aren’t your friends will notice, too. The last thing an author wants is for someone to leave a bad review or put away your work altogether because it read poorly. Unedited pieces often become distracting to readers.
I do know that it’s expensive to hire just one editor, even one who has reduced rates. But these days indie authors are using crowdsourcing tools like Kickstarter to help raise funds to pay for their team (editors, proofreaders, interior layout designers, and cover designers). I’ve seen successful Kickstarters and think they’re an awesome idea. My client, Dianna Gunn, ran a great one for Moonshadow’s Guardian.
Writing takes a lot of time and effort. Your manuscript becomes your baby. Best not to do shortcuts but have it professionally edited. It’ll read so much better and hopefully will lead to shares and positive reviews!
So, if you have a friend who’s an editor, make sure they are committed to putting their professionalism above stroking your ego. Like I said, sometimes editorial comments can throw you off guard, but a good editor will deliver the news in a constructive and helpful manner.
Don’t be afraid to ask for references! You want to make sure other authors have been happy with the editor you’re considering. A serious candidate will be happy to supply you testimonials from their clients.
Even if they’re your friend.
Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance 2019). When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Cait has also recently teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)