November is upon us, which means it’s NaNoWriMo season again. To everyone who’s participating this year, go get ’em! And my sincerest congratulations to anyone who’s ever won NaNo. You’ve accomplished something I couldn’t do on my best day—you wrote a book! And you should be proud of yourself—I’m certainly proud of you.
So, now what? Now comes the hard part. Read it. Read it yourself, revise as needed, repeat. DO THIS FIRST.
Next, find critique partners or beta readers or both… and I’m sorry, but just because your mom thinks her shmoopie wrote an amazing book, doesn’t mean it’s ready to publish. This is the hardest part; getting honest feedback. Having critique partners can be a terrific experience. Writers frequently trade critiques and it’s a learning experience both ways, you can pick up some great ideas and pointers evaluating others’ work while getting feedback on your own.
After accomplishing as much as you can on your own, it’s time for an editor.
“Wait!” you cry, “If I’m hiring an editor anyway, why do I have to do all that other work? I wrote the book! Why can’t I just send it to you? That’s what I’m paying you for!”
Let’s walk through what you’re likely to experience.
You found an editor via referral, internet search, or, possibly, magic. You contact them and ask about editing. They are going to ask you several things: timeframe, synopsis, and… wait for it… a sample of the work you want edited.
A sample edit is a wonderful tool. You get to evaluate the prospective editor. Some of the things you’re looking at:
- Do the changes make sense?
- Does this make my story better?
- Is this someone that I can work with?
But guess what? The editor is evaluating you, too. Whether or not they’re willing to edit your project depends entirely on the quality of the sample you send. How much they charge you is also based on the quality of the sample you submit. And editors have the right to reject your project if the sample you sent isn’t representative of the rest of the work. Personally, I ask that you send a sample from the middle of the book because it’s most likely to accurately reflect the amount of work involved. Trust me on this, your prospective editor will know if you sent a first draft.
I hate sending rejection responses to authors. It’s truly one of my least favorite things. But on your side, getting a rejection from someone you’re trying to give your money to? That’s gotta sting. Why set yourself up for failure?
Another thing to consider is your self-imposed project deadline. The longer your project is, the more lead time your editor needs. No matter how great your story is, if you wait until the last minute to seek out an editor, you’re going to be disappointed. Editors typically book weeks or months in advance.
Writing a book is a huge achievement, and one you deserve to be proud of. Make your book the best it can be!