Going Under My Pen: The experience of an Ink Deep edit
I was recently editing a book about starting a photography business, and the author told the reader to consider what it felt like to be in front of their camera. This got me thinking about what it felt like to be “under my pen.” Having your work edited is about so much more than getting all of your commas in the right place. It’s about having a conversation and building a relationship. I can easily list the services I provide on my website, but it’s much harder to explain the type of experience I provide for my clients. It doesn’t lend itself well to bullet-point lists. I decided to tackle the subject in this week’s blog post. So, here we go! This is how I want you to feel during an Ink Deep edit:
Enlightened – It is extremely hard to be objective about your own writing. You know what you mean to say, and your characters have been living in your head for months, so it is hard to tell when something is not coming across. I will always be completely honest in my assessment of your writing and your story. After all, there is no point in paying someone to edit your work if they aren’t going to tell you the truth. But I will explain the reason behind my edits so you can get some insight into your story and into the craft of writing. But you won’t just get a new appreciation of where your manuscript needs work. Many writers underestimate their strengths, and I love to tell a writer where they excel. Building on your strengths is just as important as improving on your weaknesses, so I will be sure to let you know what you do well.
Supported – Though I will always be honest, I will also always be nice about it! I know that sending your manuscript to an editor can be scary. All of those deletions and additions and comments can feel very personal. Editing is about trust and you can’t trust someone who is condescending or harsh. I won’t sugarcoat my edits, but I will phrase them in a supportive way. I want you to come out of an edit excited about the rewrites in front of you and feeling like I am here to help you.
Understood – Authors write because they want to tell us what they know, what they’ve learned to be true. So it can be frustrating to have an editor come in and start changing things. I never assume that I know what you’re thinking. If something isn’t clear to me, I will ask you about it. If there’s one thing you can count on in an edit from me, it’s lots of comment boxes with questions: “Is this what you meant to say?”; “How do you think your character would react if…?”; “Does this rewrite capture the feeling you were going for?” It is vitally important for an editor to maintain the voice and vision of the author, and I will ask as many questions as is necessary to assure that I do.
Encouraged – The editor-author relationship is one of teamwork. We both want the same thing—for your book to be the best it can be—so while I will be offering criticism, it will be in the spirit of encouraging you to dig deeper and reach higher, not in the spirit of tearing you down. And while I do hope that you will learn things from me that you can apply to future books, I don’t see myself as your tenth-grade English teacher with her red pen. I will not be “grading” you or judging you. We will be putting our heads together to find the best way to tell your story. And when you sit down to review my edits and consider rewrites, I want you to hear me in your head shouting, “Go, team!”
Respected – You have done an amazing thing in writing a book. Lots of people talk about writing one, and many start one, but a much smaller percentage actually get to the end. It takes creativity, skill, and persistence to do what you have done. So whether you plan to self-publish your book, send it to traditional publishers, or stick it in a drawer and count it as a “practice novel,” you deserve respect for what you have accomplished. And that is what you will get from me. Every book has its strengths and weaknesses and every author is in a different place on the path to mastery. Regardless of how far down that path you’ve travelled, your words are valuable, and I will treat them as such.
What do you want the editing experience to be like? If you like the way an Ink Deep edit sounds, I’d love to get you under my pen! Send me a message and let’s talk about your book.