Today I start second-pass edits on the first book in my Dakota Cowboy series, Dakota Storm. Because I’m going ‘indie’ (self-publishing), I knew I would need a rockstar developmental editor, and I found one in Jennifer Herrington. I highly recommend her. She slapped my ass with an eight-page, first-pass editorial letter that had my head spinning – in a good way. I managed to get through those edits (still deciding if I need counseling), and now I’m onto my second round of edits (she said she liked this book when I first sent it to her…didn’t she? 😉 ). This editorial letter was only three pages in length (a lot of praise and high-fiving for rocking my first-round edits), with a truck-load of in-manuscript comments <– and I mean A LOT.
There is a misconception out there concerning indie authors that I thought had been squashed by now. That misconception is that we don’t use editors. The truth is, some do and some don’t. I think every book needs an editor, no matter how good the author believes they are. Listen, my mama read the first draft of Dakota Storm and thought it was the best thing she’d ever read. My daughter thought it was awesome. My critique partner said she liked it – though it needed a little TLC as most books do. I edited it for two straight months. Sent it to my editor with my fingers crossed.
My editor? LOVED my voice and my small-town setting…and then told me all the things that needed to be strengthened or fixed…in an eight-page, single-spaced editorial letter.
Let me break this process down for you in simple, non-author terms so you understand what I’m trying to get at.
- Your mom will tell you how beautiful you are and that you don’t need to change at all.
- An editor will tell you how absolutely STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS you are…then tell you that you need to lose twenty pounds, get a tan, hit the salon, get a mani and pedi, and by all means, get your teeth whitened before they are even seen with you in public.
You NEED that. You need someone to tell you what works and what doesn’t work in your manuscript. You need someone who is not afraid to hurt your feelings, and you need to be humble enough to take their advice when they tell you to fix something. Writing a book is easy. It’s the editing process that’s hard. When you write you’re basically throwing sand into the sandbox and making a few sloppy ‘sandcastles’ with overturned buckets – kinda like a happy little six-year-old. When you edit you’re sculpting a sandcastle in an adult competition that’ll make people gasp from all the details that you weave in. This is where the foreshadowing really comes into play. All the cliffhangers that’ll get your reader flipping the pages. The tightening of dialogue and sentence structure. Your editor is standing behind you (at least he/she should be), eyeing the sculpture and throwing out suggestions on how to make it better.
Do you want the real answer to, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” Ask an editor. They’ll be like, “Well, you should have bought a size bigger – but we can fix that.” Yep, they’ll give you the truth and then they will help you fix it – and the good editors do it without making you feel like garbage.
So now I’m off to start on my second-pass edits. No, I’m not wearing bells, but I DO have my war face on.