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My experiences with an Editor

(The novel I picked to get the editor once over)

Picking an editor is a very stressful experience. Firstly you wonder if that money really is worth it. If you are serious about your writing then the answer is yes. I saw it as an investment. What really tipped it over for me was that I was going over my finances, checking whether I had enough to scrape together to get an editor. Thinking, okay I don't really need that trip to someplace or another. Then I saw that last year I had picked up a couple of papers as I started my masters. Not that I think I will ever finish it. But I could have hired an editor for all my books for the price of those two papers. Education in New Zealand is significantly cheaper than other places around the world like America as tertiary schooling is subsidised by the government. If I was willing to shell out that much for a course, I most likely would never finish, then an editor was worthy of my investment.

Next came looking for an editor. I knew almost straight away I didn't want to deal with someone on the other side of the world. My books are written in American English as that is what is dominant in my genre, but I didn't want an American editor. First of all exchange rate and all would almost double the cost. So I put out some inquiries to some local editors. I thought I'd be a cheapskate and just go with a basic proof but when one editor showed me a sample of her work I thought, that is what I want. She wasn't the cheapest but it was what I wanted.

When I got the manuscript back there were some things I was very pleased with and some that annoyed me. One thing that was clear, authors are blind to their mistakes. I have my favourite words apparently that I use all the time. I was aware of some of them and try to reduce them when I can but some surprised me. I had heaps of grammar mistakes. I think this is mainly due to the fact that I really don't understand grammar. I'm an English teacher but I don't think grammar is taught very well in school anymore. I know syntax and some of the more esoteric facts and tricks of grammar but I learnt more about grammar learning to read Egyptian Hieroglyphs than I ever did in school. So I was ready to be corrected on my grammar.

Oh, but taking criticism is so hard. Especially when the editor asks if English is my second language. (Cough, Cough... I'm an English teacher with a degree in English) a little embarrassing to say the least. One of the reasons I went with this particular editor was that they had worked with authors before. But that didn't show. I read a lot, I think I've mentioned that before, so I know what is out there in published work. What techniques are used and short cuts authors use. This editor wasn't aware of them. I'll give an example because this one really annoyed me. A lot of authors in the early days left out swearing to appeal to a larger audience but if they wanted to hint at a character that did actually swear they would just say... He swore. "What...." and then carry on with the dialogue. This way people can put in their own swearword and you don't have to write swearwords. Every time I did this the editor put a note to say I hadn't put any swearing in the dialogue. I'm like, I know. I did that on purpose because I'm writing for an audience that wants a clean romance without alienating the rest of my audience.

So, in all I was satisfied with the whole experience and I learnt a lot but I think from now on I'll just get my work proofed.

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