Self-Editing   6 comments

This week’s topic for the blog hop is supposed to be interviewing our editors. You can join us or check out my fellow authors here.

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Image result for image of an editorI don’t have a professional editor. A rule around our house is that hobbies must pay for themselves or not cost much to pursue. Brad started an entire business without incurring any debt and that business is still self-supporting. My books, being a small business, must be self-supporting. I do invest my own money in them, but I have a budget, which means that I spend my money on the things I’m not good at — like advertising — and the things I am good at, like editing, are not yet in the budget. When the books make money, that profit is reinvested into the areas where I need help – promotion. At some point, I hope to tip over into the place where I have enough profit to hire professionals like editors and cover designers, but I’m not there yet.

I trained as a journalist and worked as a reporter for a while. I have also worked as an editor in several jobs. So editing is a skill I possess in my personal toolbox.

Of course, an author editing her own book is fraught with difficulty. It’s like driving and navigating at the same time … possible, but complicated. Fortunately, I belong to an author cooperative where I have a ready source of beta readers, often in exchange. It’s all about being honest with each other. If I am ruthless with their work, they learn to be ruthless with mine and pretty soon, we’re all acting like editors.

So what do my beta readers say?

“This is the easiest beta read I’ve ever done,” was what Melissa said about Objects in View. “What’s with all the dialogue tags? You really don’t need them. Stop using THAT word (or phrase)! Didn’t this character have a similar conversation with another character two chapters earlier? You really do dialogue well. It feels natural. You manage to work faith into what is really not a Christian book and not lay it on too heavily.”

Image result for image of a beta readerMelissa wasn’t telling me anything I don’t already know, Objects in View being my fourth published book.

My professional skills come out in that I have gone through the manuscript several times before I turn my work over to betas. And, I will go through the book at least twice after I get the manuscript back.

I was trained in a time when dialogue tags were considered a required part of dialogue. You never wanted to leave the reader wondering who was speaking. These days, we assume the reader can figure it out. But they still work their way into my writing if I’m not thinking about it.

We all have words and phrases we overuse. They sound good to us, so we don’t eliminate them from our writing. We need betas or editors to point them out to us.

Image result for image of a beta readerSometimes my characters are trying to work out something for themselves, so they go back to the same topic again and again with different characters. Unfortunately, that bores the reader, so I have to refrain from doing that, even though I don’t object to it myself in the books that I read.

I know I’ve confessed this before. My characters just sort of appear in my head while I’m doing other things. They start to tell me that story that I end up writing. Well, they also have conversations in my head. Today, I had an interesting one between Shane and Rob while I was working out. While I do change their dialogue to match certain parameters, I am largely just transcribing the conversations I hear in my head. Thus, the dialogue flows. I don’t think that’s a skill. It’s one of the talents that just sort of flow from my writer’s brain. I am much more gratified when someone compliments me on my imagery because, to me, that’s a skill I’ve worked on. Dialogue just sort of happens.

My faith is part of my life. It does not consist of 12 rules that I follow assiduously in an effort to please God. What I believe informs my life. The faith of my characters has the same flavor. I don’t write books for a Christian audience, but I don’t write books intended to offend Christians either.  When you read my books, if there is a Christian character, you will see them portray what I identify as authentic Christianity. That’s faith that is intermingled with a human personality. So, when a character does something that stems from their beliefs, it shouldn’t come off as forced or message-like. It’s simply what they do because of who they are … unless that character has a faith that is external. Yes, sometimes I put hypocrites in my books because those exist in the real world too.

Image result for image of a beta readerI know some really great writer advice sites will insist that you shouldn’t try to publish a book until you can afford an editor. Editors cost a lot of money that I simply don’t have. In order to get around my lack of funds, I have taught myself to be ruthless with my own writing and then I use my betas to add another layer of honest evaluation. Last but not least, my husband and children have become pretty good copy-editors, who pick up the last few typos with red pens going over the physical manuscripts.

Someday I hope my books make enough money that I can afford a professional. I think that will be an interesting experience. Of course, I wonder if an editor will accept (as my betas must) that sometimes I disagree with them and will keep something the way that I originally wrote it just because I think it works best that way. Don’t know, but I look forward to finding out.

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Posted September 19, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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6 responses to “Self-Editing

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  1. Like you I also edit my own books. Using an editor is far too expensive!

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner, Indie Author. and commented:
    Are there any authors interested in joining a beta readers group on Facebook? I can set one up if so. Each author would earn 3 points for beta reading a book, and pay 3 points for their own book to be beta read. It’s cheaper than using an editor!

    Like

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