Yes, you read the title of this blog correctly: “editors”. And while “OCD” and “obsessive” and even “crazy” are all words that have been used to correctly describe me, in regards to being an author? It’s just common sense. Because while both Dionne Lister and Scott Morgan are good friends of mine, they both work for a living, and they’re not sitting around, waiting for me to send them my latest pile o’ words. And while both Dionne and Scott are two of my favorite people in the world (Dionne so much so that I spend over an hour each week doing a podcast with her), and I genuinely like and respect them, I don’t have them edit my work because we’re friends, nor do I promote them and their work for that reason. I ask them for their BAMF editing skills because I like and respect them professionally. I trust their judgement, and I trust their suggestions. And their judgement and suggestions are what shapes my work into the final product, the books I publish for my readers.
Generally, when I finish a project, I send it to Dionne or Scott, depending on who has the time to take the project on. In some situations, I’ll ask both of them to look at what I’ve written. A prime example of this is the writer’s grant I completed last week. Being awarded this grant I so desperately want will provide me not only with the monetary backing to complete two or three other projects I have on the table, but will also give me the opportunity to be mentored and promoted when I complete the books I have planned. Winning this grant that I’ve worked on for over two months is the single biggest goal I’ve set for myself since publishing my first book in early January 2012. And other times, I’ll send my work to both of them because I want their honest opinion as both a reader and as an editor. Two sets of eyes are better than one, and in most situations? Three sets of eyes can get rid of any wrinkles and aid in my cranking out a near-flawless piece of work.
I advice everyone (and their brother) to take the time to find a good editor. Because while I might know what I’m saying with what I’m writing, the world doesn’t exactly know what I’m saying, and since my readers aren’t living within the jumbled contents of my brain? They’re only going to get what words I put down on the page, not the idea that was behind those words, especially if those words are written in the wrong manner. My all-time favorite example of this is the time I wrote, “At twenty-one, James was fourteen years my senior.” When Dionne pointed that line out in the track-notes of the edit she had done for me, my jaw hit the ground and I started laughing. “James” being the first erotica short story I had ever written and published, the way I had written that line made it appear as if James was twenty-one, and at fourteen years the main character’s senior? That places her at the young age of seven. And considering the genre? I’d just written something I’d find disgusting in real-life.
So a good editor points out mistakes that you yourself will miss. A great editor, on the other hand, not only points out your mistakes, they show you ways to correct them. They help you develop your project into something that is polished, enjoyable, and note-worthy. And they do it politely, without making you feel like a jackass. Bad editors give editors a blanket crap reputation with having their head up their asses.
And while Dionne and Scott are both people I consider dear friends, when they edit my work? They’re not my friends, they are my editors. For six months, both Scott and Dionne have had the task of kicking my ass. And they’ve done it correctly, every single time. And I have said “Thank you” every single time and meant it. If I get angry or aggravated when going over the suggestions they make? I’m not angry at them, I’m angry at me.
I was asked last night if I was nervous about submitting my grant applications. My honest answer? No. Because I know I submitted the very best work I could have written. If I’m not awarded this grant? It’s because someone else was better suited for it. And today, when I mailed off my grant proposals, I placed the stamps on the envelops, and tossed them in the outgoing box without a second look.
So Dionne and Scott? Thank you. Those are two words I cannot say enough to you two for all you do in helping me publish my best work. Thank you for the repeat mistakes (yes, I’m referring to punctuation inside quotation marks), the whining, the non-stop questions during the lead up to me hitting the publish button. You both rock, and I wouldn’t be where I am without your help.