I’ve been walking the line between author and editor these days. It’s a tight line, one that I’m having a hard time staying balanced on. It’s not because I’ve been consuming lots of good wine (I wish), but because I’ve reached the point in my editing where I really can’t take the step back that I need to. Or, I’ve reached a point where I know what’s wrong but I just don’t know how to fix it. So even as an editor myself, I know for certain that I need to be working with an editor as well. Just because I’m self-publishing doesn’t mean I’m not going to skip corners. Self-Published titles aren’t being taken seriously because so many people skip corners, rush the process, and try and get their book out as fast as possible. This problem isn’t exclusive to self-publishing authors, however. I’ve seen many authors trying to go the traditional route who also try and rush the process.
As an author, I really can understand this thought process. After all, I’ve just poured years and years into a book. How else am I going to find validation, if not from acceptance and support in the publishing path that I’ve chosen.
We need to temper this need, guys. We’re ruining our chances at making a great idea into an amazing book.
If you followed me at all during #p2p16 you saw that I ended up passing on books I loved because I thought that they would need more time than I could give them in the month allotted for the contest. I was looking for near-perfect projects that I would give up sleep and some of my precious writing time to work on. But there’s more at play in my personal schedule than just my personal writing time. I’m also a full time student who only had two weeks off between Winter and Spring quarter — who has had a very difficult time with anxiety and panic attacks since her terrible concussion.
So, let’s crunch some numbers:
- First pass read through, plus (physical) note taking as I read: 6 – 10 hours. This depends on the length of the manuscript, the pacing, and how much work the manuscript needs.
- Organizing those initial thoughts into categories to see what I’ve made notes on so far and what I still haven’t caught yet: 1 hour.
- Second pass read through. More note-taking, but broken down into chapter by chapter notes with special attention to what I haven’t made notes on (plot, character development). 6 – 10 hours.
- If I feel comfortable after this set of notes, I begin to work on the edit letter. These take between 2 – 3 hours.
If one manuscript was the only thing on my plate getting a book back to someone within a week would be no problem, especially if they were only looking for an editorial letter. The way I edit, however, I need at least a day (I prefer at least 3 days) of working on something else before I can jump back in the previous project (usually a 50 page edit) just to clear my mind. I also need to factor in reading submissions for work, working on reading and/or book reviews of ARCs and review copies I’ve been sent, and (gasp) some time to leave the house.
So right there, factoring everything I need to do in a week in, we’re looking at just over a week as a turnaround time for a quick developmental edit (when I’m not in school).
With #p2p16, we had to factor in the amount of time the author would have to edit. The more work a manuscript needs, the more the author will have to work on it in order to make their manuscript query-ready.
When you’re looking at a timeline for editing you need to consider how long it’s going to take for your editor to work on your book and how long it’s going to take for you to edit your book once you have feedback. If you’re working with a freelance editor, you also need to make sure you have an honest conversation about your expectations and what kind of timeline you’re working with. Some editors may be faster than others. Some editors might not be able to accommodate how fast you need your manuscript back, but they will probably be able to refer you to a trusted editor friend who can.
You also need to be honest with yourself. What kind of editor are you really looking for? What path do you want to take? How much time do you have to dedicate to editing your book.
No matter who you work with — an agent, freelance editor, editor at a press, your critique partners, your beta readers — in this industry, you need to be prepared to be honest and you need to know how to effectively communicate. Otherwise, you’re only going to be met with constant disappointed. Or you’re going to start demanding ridiculous deadlines and no one is going to want to work with you.
If you have a little more time to work with (and want to work with someone other than me) check out these editors:
And I’m sure I could list a DOZEN more. Have you worked with anyone not on this list and loved them? Leave their name and website in the comments!
No matter what you do, and who you work with, your writing future is in your hands. Be realistic, patient, open minded, and optimistic.
That’s the only way you’re going to survive.