Monday, June 4, 2012

From An Editor to An Author

Please welcome editor Judy Beatty!!

Tonya asked me to write a blog on editing, and I’ve been mulling around what I want to tell you over and over in my mind for days now.   I have finally zeroed in on some things that I feel are important to the editor, and for the author.

In editing a manuscript, there can be a tendency to “want” to forget that the author has his or her own voice, and change sentences into how we as editors would say it if we had written it.  This is where we can make or break trust in the person we are editing for.  It’s common to try and change sentences around to our liking, but once the author’s voice is revealed, we must edit in their way of thinking, and not ours.  I had one lovely author recently tell me that she sees my grammatically correct sentences and says “Grammatically correct? What’s that?”  Also, I edited a book for an author that had characters speaking the worst English I have ever heard, but that is the way he wanted it, and that is the way I had to learn to edit his book.  Now I am highly aware and try to find the pattern and rhythm  in each authors writing, and once I do that, I can easily edit without changing their voice.

Punctuation tends to be an issue in every manuscript I edit.   Commas are by far the most overused punctuation on the planet.  Quotation marks inside or outside of the period/exclamation point/comma are another issue.  I find this rule handy: If in Britain, put the quotes outside of the punctuation, and if in America, put them inside.  Since most of us are in America, writing to Americans, then I try to keep what our readers are used to seeing prevalent.  If any of you are writing to a British audience, please tell your editor so they can edit accordingly (I say with tongue in cheek).

It helps, also, to have a wonderful daughter who teaches high-school English for a living.  AHEM…YES, I do write her occasionally when I get stumped and ask for her opinion, and thank God, she is so quick to help me.

I love working with already published writers, but am sad to say that so many manuscripts are getting edited (even [especially] by major publishing companies) and leaving so much to be desired; and you, the author, have probably paid through-the-nose to have them edited, but they are still so full of errors and have been published that way.  Since I do a lot of re-editing for authors who are already published, I feel deeply sorry for them and want to do everything in my power to make their manuscripts as clean as possible. When I read a book for fun, and it is full of errors, I tend to cringe and put it down.  Actually, that is how I got started in editing.  I read a series by a well-known author, and found so many mistakes that I wrote her and asked if she would like for me to fix them.  She sent me her manuscripts and I was on my way with a new career.

New writers are fun to edit, and a bit more time-consuming, because they are just finding their voice and a good editor can help them find it if he or she is willing to take the time to discuss issues with the writer.  It’s great fun to watch new writers evolve, and see each new book come to life with more of “them” in it.
My final thought is, no matter if you are an already published author, or if you are just starting out –edits will need to be done; sometimes over and over again, until the manuscript is so squeaky clean you can see your face in it.  I do look forward to working with many of you, and will continue to enjoy reading your works, and editing to my heart’s content.  

Until then, “Happy Writing”.

Judy is giving away a one time free editorial service to one lucky comment today!!!!

34 comments:

  1. Great post! Thanks so much Tonya and Judy!

    (I left out a comma so you would pick me)

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    1. Paige, you are so cute! You put a big smile on my face!

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  2. Great post, I am currently in the process of editing some work for other people and I do agree that the comma is the most overused thing in the history of literature!

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    1. Cassandra, I buy commas in bulk. It's so easy to just toss them in the air and let them land;)

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  3. Great post! I have the opposite problem with commas and tend to leave them out when they should be there. :)

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    1. Hahhaaa! Wendy! I can relate to that too.

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  4. I love my commas ;) So true about so many authors needing to have their already "edited" book re-edited. I've had bad experiences myself.

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    1. TM, Judy is currently going through ALL of my books to help re-edit them. I thought I had found an amazing editor each time....sigh....Judy and I work soooo well together that I ask her questions if I question her edit. Of course she's always right!

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  5. I'm a debut author and my weakness is inserting em-dashes into my work. I didn't realize how many until I got my proof galley back from the publisher and had to note every single one that the software had not converted. Yikes!

    Now that my book is out, I wish I'd spent more time on line edits in general.

    Que sera sera!

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    1. Oh, Elizabeth. I use to use em-dashes as well, but now I just leave them out and try to have a complete clean manuscript...so hard.

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  6. Walking the old grammar and punctuation tightrope used to hang me up, too. My "voice" and standard punctuation "rules" didn't cohabit well. I've since learned punctuation is so much more than peppery spots on white space: it's indicative of my style and care as a writer. Nowadays, I pay my dues and respect the cute little punks.

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    1. Mary, that is so true!! I've found with other editors that they like to change my voice with their punctuation and it drives me crazy :?

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  7. Wonderful insights,Judy. I especially like the tip about the quotation marks and punctuation. The only time this messes me up is when there is a single word being put in quotations at the end of a sentence. Then I think I need to put the punctuation outside the quotation mark. For example: Paula refused to listen when the woman said "jump". I question myself every time, but I think I have it right. Yes?

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    1. Oh, PJ....Judy is always correcting me on this one! She's explain it much better than me;)

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    2. Sorry, but it should be "jump." Can you believe it? Personally, I would like to see it the way you have it - it just looks right. Here is a good site to visit whenever you get confused on which way to use punctuation with quotation marks. It helps me every time. http://grammartips.homestead.com/inside.html
      Whenever you are using a direct quote, you would put the period before the punctuation. Otherwise, it is always outside of the quotation mark. There are a lot of rules, such as a single letter or number, etc. This site will help you with those (or your editor, whichever comes first). :-)

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  8. I have the same question as PJ Sharon because that one messes me up, too. Sometimes I'll reword a sentence just so I don't end it with a quote - and thus ensure I don't put the punctuation in the wrong place!

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    1. Stacy.....I love my......and that is hard to end in a sentence in too!

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  9. Awesome post! A good editor is so important to us as Indie published authors. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Valle Bower
    vallebower.com
    (for some reason, it's not letting me post through my wordpress account. not recognizing me, I guess)

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    1. Oh! I'll see if you were spammed...darn spam.

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  10. Hi Judy,
    I'm a relatively new author and find I have problems with commas. I also wondered about the placement of punctuation with quotation marks. Great post. Thank you so much.

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    1. Thanks for hanging out, Gerri!

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    2. Hi Gerri. I'm so glad you are writing. I'm so sorry you are having punctuation issues, but rest assured - you are NOT ALONE. I giggle as I say that, because some of the best of the best writers have those same issues, so don't feel alone. I just answered PJ Sharon on the quotation issue and gave this URL to go to: http://grammartips.homestead.com/inside.html
      That will help you a bunch. I find with commas that it is best to read the sentence out loud several times. Find where you take a break to breathe, and usually (not always) that is a good place for a comma. As long as one doesn't take a paint brush and just splatter them everywhere, I don't mind commas. It's when they, are, every other, word, that, I have a, problem (giggle). Any time you have an issue with them, feel free to email me, and I will be glad to help you. beatty_home@mediacombb.net

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  11. What a lovely post! I have had the pleasure of working with Judy and seeing how her impressive work transforms writing into something truly amazing. She’s not only an outstanding Editor she’s a delightful Lady!

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    1. And I want to introduce you all to the next upcoming awesome author, my heart-daughter, Leah Lozano. She is writing a wonderful book and I'm so honored to be working with her.

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  12. This is great advice! I know we authors have a hard time remembering certain things about our own work, especially punctuation at times. ;) However, with an English Degree under my belt, I have to make sure that I use my grammar properly and I like to have a second opinion on what I may have forgotten! lol Great post!

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  13. As an unpublished author, I find editing hard work.

    I wish I could afford to pay someone, but that is not possible. I have tried to read books about how to improve and use software to catch the ones I may have missed. Of course they too do not catch them all. So I will continue to do the best that I can.

    This information will help me continue with my journey.

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  14. Judy, thank you for a look at the world of editors. At this point, rewriting seems like a never ending job for me. I'm striving for that squeaky clean manuscript.

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  15. You made an excellent point, Traditional publishers put out books with many errors, yet Indie authors get alot of heat for errors. Editing is not an easy process and finding the right editor is crucial. Thanks for the informative post.

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  16. Paige W. Pendleton is the winner of the free book edit. Congratulations Paige. I look forward to working with you.
    Judy

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