Usually writers approach a book editor with, yes, a book that’s already written. Occasionally I get enquiries from writers who are stuck at the very beginning of the writing process, usually due to some form of limiting self-concept such as “I can’t write” or “What I write is no good.” My advice to just about anyone is, “If you can speak, you can write.”
Send me what you have in your own voice, and it’s my job to clean it up where needed. I don’t start with the premise that it’s “no good.” I start with the premise that if you’re sending it to me to edit, it’s probably good enough for another human to see but not good enough – yet – for a larger audience. Again, that’s my job: to make it good enough for wider publication. And more than that: not just good enough, but the best it can be. The book starts with the integrity of your own voice and style, and comes to completion with my attention to detail, in the quest for optimum clarity of communication.
The best treatment I know for the dreaded writer’s block is – wouldn’t you know – to write. Obviously that’s deceptively simplistic advice, so here’s the catch: write, don’t edit (yet). That means don’t worry about correct usage, or rules from elementary school, or what your mother will think, or whether it’s a best-seller or fit for the shredder. Just write.
An excellent exercise to remedy writer’s block is called freewriting. That means putting the pen or pencil to paper, saying Go and not stopping until you come to the end of a page (or ten) or the egg timer rings after three minutes (or thirty), and you can then take a breath and say wow, I am a writer.
Stages of Editing
1. Self-editing. Once you have something on paper (or virtual paper), you can switch hats and turn to editing, rewriting, pruning, chiseling, embellishing, and all the other tricks of the writer’s trade. To give you some tools to help at this secondary stage of writing, I offer some specific tips and resources for self-editing, along with a handy self-editing crib sheet to cover some of the stickier decisions of correct usage.
2. Feedback from others. When you have done what you can to produce and polish with your own powers of creativity and discernment, it’s time to take off your hard hat and ask another pair of eyes to look at your work. Ideally that will mean sharing in a live or online writers’ group, exchanging work with a critique partner, or sending a draft to “beta readers.” You can then incorporate each type of feedback into further revisions of your manuscript.
3. Professional editing. The final and necessary stage of editing is to hire a professional editor to evaluate and correct your work.
If you have a finished draft in place and a deadline to meet, you may be ready for a final copyedit right away, bypassing the lengthy process of garnering feedback from peers. Or you may have covered all the bases yourself and with critiques offered by others, and need just a final proofing before publication.
HyperEdits can help with all these aspects of professional editing, customizing our service to fit the needs of your situation and the unique qualities of your work – or streamlining the process with a standard rate and quick turnaround if you prefer. A free sample edit provides me with a preview of your writing project and you with a sample of the kinds of changes I would suggest. Email today for a free estimate, or with any further questions you may have.
further reading: Nowick’s Rules