Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Importance of an Editor - and a Manuscript Assessment

I have been reading for years (and years), have beta-read for other authors and review books frequently, but when it comes to writing itself, I am very much still learning my craft for a reader does not a writer make – at least, not entirely. 

Being asked to beta-read has taught me how read critically, to recognise ‘good’ writing from ‘poor’ and to be able to identify plot structure and characterisation rather than just enjoy the read (or not) without thinking any more about it. But identifying issues within your own work is a challenge, especially when you know story, because sometimes what is in your head is not on the page but you can’t see that it’s missing. 

Like any aspiring writer I want to give myself the best possible chance of getting my work published. Working in the bookselling industry I am lucky enough to have a number of contacts who will look at my work – but that is no guarantee of an offer.  So I decided that when my manuscript was ready for beta-reader feedback it would also be ready for an assessment by a freelance editor.


Some writers bulk at the expense of hiring an editor to assess their manuscript. After all, isn't it the job of an editor at a publishing house to go through your work and make it better? Well sure, in a perfect world. But few editors in a publishing house have the time to give a manuscript from a new author that sort of a love and attention. If you want your work to stand out - and to be considered publishable at all - then you need to go the hard yards, and invest in yourself, to polish it within an inch of its life.

I sent my precious manuscript to Abigail at Bothersome Words and the entire experience has been fantastic. I now have an assessment that is making me look at my work through ‘new’ eyes – and furthered my education in the art of prose which I will take with me when I begin the first draft of my next book. I have a detailed and unbiased analysis of the plot and of each character, as well as notes on pacing, questions on world building, examples of showing and telling (and overwriting) in my prose as well as points on its overall cohesion.

Getting an assessment of my work has helped me craft a plan of attack for my 5th (and final – I hope) draft and pointed things out to me that I was just too close to the work to see. Seeking assistance from someone who works with the written word for a living has benefited me in ways that have already changed how I approach each stage of working on a novel – not to mention in ways I have not even noticed yet – and I highly recommend it. I will definitely be working with Abigail Nathan at Bothersome Words again.

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