I am a perfectionist. I confess this as the disease that it is. I never should have let my husband read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. He now loves to tell me how it must be hell to wake up every morning and be you. Then he grins like a cheshire cat, relieved that he does not have this dilemma of perfectionism.
What is perplexing about this is that my debut novel, Benjamin, is just now typo free. YAY! It only took six months to track down every evil little typo and smash it off the page. Let’s not even examine that I am a professional editor by trade, when not teaching college English, and soon creative writing.
I don’t blame my publisher, because the truth is – the buck stops here. If you want a small personalized press where you have creative input into your final product, you must share equal responsibility for whatever that final product finally becomes.
When wearing an editor hat I catch, well, pretty much everything. I know this by the moaning of my clients. Based on their recommendations written for my website, they eventually are happy to have made those edits.
My own work, on the other hand, I cannot seem to read objectively. Perhaps that would be a little like seeing your child’s glaring errors instead of their beautiful heart, soul and vulnerabilities each time you look at them. Of course, there is also the question of whether you are using your logic (left side) of the brain or your creative (right) side. Creativity has no patience for an English skills assessment.
I’ve learned that it takes a village to edit a book. Every editor brings a different talent to the table for what type of typo they detect. Some editors are best for content rather than commas. They can help you shore up your plot and deepen your characters laugh lines or lines in the sand to make them more lovable. Or they can restructure your sentence structuring. These would be my gifts. I leave correct comma placement to proofreaders.
I have one writer/editor friend who somehow finds every word with a missing letter. You’d be surprised at how many of these show up in a book. The reader is almost always unaware. It’s like the social media posts that show words as random letters but with a few in the correct place and ask if you can read it anyway. Yep, the brain decodes it at rapid speed. That’s why we don’t see those missing letters (or letters out of order) when reading.
My personal angst as a writer is using the wrong spelling for my word choice. Pores for pours. Peer for pier. Funny how I catch these for others when wearing my editor hat. Maybe it’s similar to being more attentive to our guests, while glossing over family with a mere glance.
Small publishers do not have editing villages as a rule. They have passion, heart and soul for what they do, and a good eye for good reads – but not a lot of worker bees for final edits and tedious marketing. Those are going to be our burdens as the author. So, I have formed my own village of editors and I now have a publicist.
My publisher has been there for me every step of the way. Supportive, informative, and just plain believing in me, which every author needs well beyond that initial I will take a chance on you smile and handshake. This, by the way, is all you might get from the big publishers before being thrown into the lion’s den of the publishing process.
It has been an amazing ride this past year slowly breaking out of my cocoon as a cozy writer cuddled up to my keyboard, all the way to a published novelist fluttering about like a butterfly, signing books for readers and attending promotional events.
I cannot believe how much I have learned past the angst of how to write a synopsis for your well-crafted (because it was rewritten numerous times) manuscript, all the way to collecting and correcting those typos that unfortunately slipped through.
My earthshattering conclusion is that we evolve first as writers and then as authors, because if we don’t evolve we will certainly not be able to maintain an engaged audience and successful career. And this, my friends, is ultimately what it’s all about unless you are a one act pony with a life changing memoir from which you plan to collect your millions and retire.
Best of luck with that. (;
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