Once upon a time, I thought I knew stuff. Lot's of stuff. I felt pretty confident in the fact that I knew STUFF.
I mean. I totally knew that adverbs (lots of them) could mean death to the writer.
I also knew that showing vs. telling is a much better way to go--EVERYONE says so.
I learned that dialogue tags like, "she exclaimed" or "he declared" aren't necessary and that a consistent voice is key.
AND, that's not all, folks. I know LOTS of stuff. Way more than that. The above is only the tip of the iceberg of the STUFF I know. Yeah, I know stuff, a-huh, a-huh!
Then I met my editor.
As it turns out, my iceberg of knowledge was really not an iceberg at all. It was more the shape and consistency of an ice-cube. Itty-bitty. And I'm okay with that. I love my ice-cube of knowledge, because I know that several years ago, when I first started pursuing writing as a career and not just as a hobby, I didn't even have an ice-cube. I had one measly snowflake of knowledge--one crystal.
So my ice-cube of knowledge is pretty darn amazing. Even though sometimes I feel like the more I learn the less I know. But I'll tell ya, I'm SO glad I didn't rely on that ice-cube to get me by. OH, boy am I glad. I shudder at the thought of going about the process of writing without an editor at my side.
Because really, writing is all about trial and error. What works and what doesn't. And as writers, especially when we've been working on a project for a great length of time, we become so close with it that we can't see the mistakes, the plot holes, the inconsistencies. Not until someone points it out to us. A second pair of eyes--professional eyes.
I love my alpha readers and I love my beta's. But boy am I in love with my editor. (Melissa, you are amazing! Worth every penny). She makes me look smarter than I am. She does it all--beta read, line edit, content edit, encourage, and suggest. Someone who simply checks your spelling and grammar isn't enough. NO. It's not. Believe me. You want someone who will go through your manuscript with a fine tooth comb and pull out all the tangles. You want that person who will say, "Hey, you've got piece of broccoli in your teeth" or "You're not going outside wearing that, are you?"
Think about it. It's like being a celebrity without a stylist. Come on. Just look at this:
We all remember this. Where was her stylist to say, "Hey, those jeans are awful. Let's put you in a nice dark denim that will flatter your curves, not enhance them. And lets get rid of the belt while we're at it. We want people to love the song, not focus on the pants."
An editor is akin to a stylist. They want people to love your story and the way they do that is by removing the mom jeans from your manuscript. They keep you from looking stupid.
And that's what we all want--not to look stupid. No amount of marketing can hide stupidity. You may get some of your books sold in the beginning, but mistakes will scream out at readers saying, "I didn't care about you to get this fixed." Those readers may not come back to read a second or third book, which if you're in this for the long haul, is EXACTLY what you don't want to have happen. You don't want to disappoint. You're trying to put forth a product (yes, a book is a product) and this product will have your name on it. Why would you skip the editor aspect?
Money? The cost? Yeah, I can see where editors can be a bit pricey. But there are many opportunities out there. You just have to look and ask around. One place to start is at Editorial Freelancers Association. They have kazillion editors there who would bid on your job. Some are even willing to take a percentage of your book instead of having you pay an upfront cost, so look around. Just remember, what you pay is what you'll get, so skimping on an editor may not be a good move in the long run. Scout out the internet, put out feelers on Twitter and Facebook. Check editorial sites and services and see what works for you.
As I said, I don't know what I'd do without Melissa. She has mad skills. She has helped me to hone what STUFF I do know, and make it better. With Melissa, she is taking my ice-cube of knowledge and is helping me to grow it into a good sized ice-block (you know those bags of ice you can pick up at the grocery store? Yeah, that). Hopefully, in a year or two from now, I will have a nice chunk of ice.
What's your feeling on editors? Can writers get by without them (please say no)? AND if you know of an editor who is amazing and reasonably priced, comment with their name (business for them and an editor for writers on the prowl). It would be great to get a list going to pass on to those who may be looking, but are tight on funds.