Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Going Through the Editing Process

My editor just sent me her edits for Chapter 6 of my book, "Climbing Kilimanjaro and Making a Difference". I am finding out that this whole editing thing is lot of work but I am convinced that the end result will be worth the effort.

I recently tried to read a book written by a friend. It had been self published and I was quite excited to read it. Unfortunately, I couldn't. It was full of spelling mistakes, large spaces in the middle of sentences and grammatical errors. It was such a shame that he gone to that much work and yet chosen the $200 self publishing package, which apparently didn't include editing.

I consider myself to be a good writer. I have a good grasp of the English language and my understanding of grammar is decent. I honed my skills writing policy for the federal government for ten years. I know what you are saying. Nobody reads that stuff anyway!! Well, my boss did and every time I sent a policy into his office for comment, it would come back with edits all over it.

I have to admit I was offended at first. But then I tried to sit back and look at it objectively. I came to an astonishing conclusion! It was actually a better product after I incorporated his edits. He was seeing things that I was oblivious to because I had been getting too close to it. I actually learned to appreciate his input.

When I first met with my editor, I had two issues that I wanted addressed. I wanted to know if my book was something that only my grandchildren would love and if it somehow had wider appeal, I wanted an editor who would be brutally honest. It passed my first criteria and I braced myself for the second. I thought I had become immune to that kind of honesty throughout my working career.

The edit of the Introduction came back with the normal grammatical changes plus a comment that part if it was too "preachy". Okay, I had asked for it. And you know what? She was absolutely correct and with a little work I was able to remove the preachings. Hmmm...I wonder where that desire to preach came from. Policy writing perhaps?

Since that time we have moved some paragraphs, eliminated some redundancy, elaborated on or clarified some paragraphs and ensured that I am not straying too much from the subject at any time. Oh yes, and some grammar has been fixed. And I am deeply appreciative. I am not sure what other editors do but I firmly believe that a good editor should go way beyond fixing grammar.

For anyone who has not ventured down the editing path, I strongly suggest that you find an editor who is willing to do that for you. And don't take the criticism personally. As long as the information you want to convey is still included, it is just possible it can be said better. It will definitely be a better product after it has been reviewed in depth by a second pair of eyes. It is worth the investment to ensure your masterpiece is the best it can possibly be.

I hope I am not being too preachy!

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