Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Hire More Eyes?

Had several consults lately, and I'm noticing a trend. Those I spoke with didn't like writer's groups and had never considered hiring an editor.

The Myths and Misunderstandings of Finding Other Eyes to Review Your Work

1. They will slow down your process.

Chances are, that's exactly what you need to happen. If you've been the only person with  hands on your story, you can't see the flaws. The story might be in your head, but not clearly portrayed on the paper. Never rush a story. It's a path to disappointment.

2. They will steal your story.

Nobody steals stories these days. Everyone is too wrapped up in his own story, and chances are they aren't in love with your work as much as you are. But let's say the story is phenomenal. How will you know how phenomenal it is until someone thinks so other than yourself? What if it's great until chapter 15 when the momentum slows to a crawl, but you know how it comes out on the other end, so it's cool. You need those eyes. Even if, by a really rare chance, someone likes your idea, they will not write it like you do. They will not risk you coming after them for plagiarism. Get over this. There are too many stories to tell to steal them. If this concern makes you abstain from getting help with your work, then either grow up, take the chance, or give up writing.

3. They don't know your work like you do. 

No they don't. However, you want them to. Who doesn't want the world to embrace their story and adore it as much as its creator? Let them get to know it. Only then can you receive a clear read on whether you're work is working, or your too close to your baby to be objective.

4. They have an axe to grind about passive voice, or romance, or strong female characters, or talking dogs, or fill-in-the-blank.

Every editor or writer has pet issues. In a room of ten writers, you'll receive ten diverse critiques, and that's a marvelous experience. You don't want each person to critique the same. You want the grammar guru, the character champion, and the point-of-view princess. You want the big picture seekers and the detailed divas. Let them grind their axes. Then be adult enough to sift through all the notes, taking time to ponder what advice is worth following and what is not.

Writer's groups and editors are gold when they are good. They can impact the quality of your writing to the point you'll deed your house or sign over your first born. I'm that way. When my novel is released, I have a dedication in the front to include my writers groups, with four special people being particularly key in helping me become a novelist.

Toughen up and take it on the chin. Whether in a group or hired by the word, let people rip your work apart, because when the manuscript heals back from all that spilled red ink, it'll be so much stronger.

NOTE: I'm talking DAYS until the release of my mystery. Fingers crossed!


Kathryn J. Bain said...

I was always worried about hiring an editor because some of them don't know what they're doing. I finally met a publisher and asked her if she had anyone to suggest. She did, and I was very happy with the results. In fact, the book she edited, a novella called "Game of Hearts" is coming out in March.

Do your homework before you hire, and you will be happy with the results.

Hope, your book will do great. You have a wonderful platform to get a jumpstart, and you know what you're doing. Congratulations.

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

I keep intending to research gthis question: did the greats in our literary canon use readers groups?

If not, I wonder why/how the writing environment changed to the point that now they seem to be a necessity.

Perhaps publishers' editors were more involved in those days.


Hope Clark said...


Publishers/editors were highly respected and probably more heavy-handed in managing their writers. Plus writers were not all that common like they are now. Competition less. Fewer people read. Less competition. If you were published, it was prestigious. Today we have to fine-tune so tightly, be more marketable, cater to the average person/reader. A whole different environment.

Laurie Boris said...

Any editor worth her red pen will offer you a free sample edit and/or references. Great info, Hope!

Kim Bookless said...

Thanks for this great post, Hope. Good editors should be treasured!

Sreeja said...

Thanks for this post, it is very informative.

Andrea said...

I've also found that I learn something new at every critique group meeting, even if we aren't talking about my project. Now that's value!