Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CBP Presents- Grammar Goggles

That All-Important Second Look

Whether just starting out or an experienced author, looking to break into a new market or planning to self-publish, Grammar Goggles can help you polish your manuscript and take it to the next level.

Just Wanna Hang with my Peeps

The other day someone asked me an interesting question. Why, she said, would she bother with an editor when she had two awesome critique partners and a slew of people begging to Beta read for her? My answer was to the point and took her aback, I think:

Expertise, with a heaping helping of honesty.

She was expecting the ‘expertise’ bit, but not the honesty. I hope it made her think, carefully, about the roll critique partners and Beta readers play, and what editors should be offering.

For the most part your crit partners and Beta readers are your “peeps”. They’re in your corner, on your side, wanting to make you feel good and keep writing. Yes, if you’re lucky, they’ll be honest with you but, for the most part, they don’t want to hurt your feelings. You’ll probably get comments like, “You know, I can’t get into your heroine, for some reason,” or, “the scene when the protagonist meets the doctor just doesn’t sound right.” Really? Okay. You go back, look at the heroine or the scene, fiddle a bit, and hope you’ve fixed the problem. Have you? Only the Shadow knows.

Editors, on the other hand, are in your employ. If they see something grammatically incorrect, they’ll not only point it out but also give ideas on how to fix it. They’re supposed to notice if your character’s eye color changes partway through the story, or if your hero goes from wearing a suit to jeans within the same scene. Most importantly, you’re paying them to be utterly and completely honest. Rather than say your heroine isn’t sympathetic, they’ll tell you why. Instead of just saying a scene isn’t working they’ll try to figure out the reason, help you to decide whether you need to get rid of it all together or if, and how, it can be fixed.

I don’t want to sound mean, because really I’m not, but I’m not being paid to be a friend. Authors I work with need to remember why they sent me money, which is to help make their books shine. I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen, but sometimes it ain’t pretty. Sometimes the comments fill the margin and jump into a separate box because they just go on, and on. I’m not trying to tear you down or make you cry. I’m just doing my job the best I can. With all the expertise I possess and all the honesty I can muster.

On the other hand, if you read your editor’s notes and feel as though you’ve just got a reprimand from the principal, I suggest quietly looking for another. It’s also not the editor’s job to chastise or judge, and unprofessional comments are unacceptable. Honesty? Yes. Expertise? Of course. That’s what you pay for. Tact should come free of charge.

So keep your critique partners well-fed and happy, thrill your Beta readers by letting them see that new work-in-progress, but remember why you have them and why you pay an editor to take that second look.
My main focus is on grammar and line editing but my rates also include low-level content editing, where I make note of any questions regarding continuity, pacing and story line. These services are built into the charge since I know, from experience, I can't see problems in those areas without making mention of them.


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  1. Not sure where I'm supposed to be showing Love to Cara... BUT.... Much LOVE to you cara!!! congrats and Best wishes all the way around!!!

  2. Nicely put. I always warn authors that I am editing for that I tend to be brutally honest. I TRY to be polite but I definitely point out things that I think need to be altered. Fortunately, MOST of my authors have had thick enough skin that they appreciate my honesty (but not necessarily the extra work I put them through, lol).

  3. Thanks for sharing. I've had friends who asked me to proof their stuff complain because I'm brutally honest. If someone asks me to edit something, I'm going to be honest and brutal. You will most likely get something back with corrections, suggestions, etc, full of red ink. It's not to be mean, but to help make a better book. Sorry for the rant, thanks again!