A few weeks ago I wrote about how to handle the responsibility of editing someone else’s manuscript. Now I’d like to address the other side of this coin: How to handle someone else editing your manuscript…your hard work…your precious baby. ;)
First let me address the issue of allowing someone to edit your manuscript, because you NEED to let someone edit your manuscript. Often writers won’t let their work out for fear of plagiarism or the negative comments might be too hard to handle.
It is very true, negative comments are painful, but in the world of writing they are necessary. I can assure you, if you make it to the professional level you’ll get plenty of negative comments. And if you are afraid of plagiarism, I’m not telling you to give your work to anyone and everyone. Find someone you can trust.
Another important step is finding multiple people you can hand your manuscript to at the same time. Find people from different viewpoints too. Find someone who is good with grammar (teachers or secretaries are great). Find someone who reads books in the genre you write. Find someone who reads avidly. Find someone you know will be CRITICAL. If you pick people you know will only come back with positive comments you are handicapping yourself.
Now let’s get to the point where your work has been returned and you are ready to apply the edits.
-Start by looking at each person’s edits side by side. If there is an area more than one person brings up that is one you definitely need to work on.
-Learn to separate opinion from real issues. Just because someone tells you to change something, that doesn’t automatically mean you have to. It might just be their opinion.
-Don’t automatically throw something out you don’t agree with. Honestly consider each comment.
-Identify the problem, find your own solutions. An editor might offer a suggestion on how to fix a problem area. Consider their solution, but feel free to come up with your own. Just make sure the problem is fixed!
-Grammar is SO important. Pay attention to every comma they want you to add.
-Apply the edits then go back and read it again. Sometimes in the process of editing a document we can unintentionally mess up sentences or formatting.
-Don’t just stop at the exact edits. If a particular issue is pointed out in one area, make sure you haven’t repeated the problem in other segments.
-Don’t take it personally. If someone doesn’t like your work, that doesn’t mean they don’t like you. They are simply trying to give you the help you asked for.
Warning: Some people are just not good at editing, no matter how well intentioned they are. You’ll learn over time who is good at it and who isn’t.
Most importantly, rejoice! Your manuscript has just taken a huge step forward!
So, who edits your work?