Happy Career Milestone!
This month, new book releases have provided me with my first editing credits.
When I was asked recently to do “real” editing, I was hesitant. Should I accept payment for providing a service that I am not “trained” nor “licensed” to provide? I mean, Me? Edit!? No way…I barely remember what a participle is, let alone how to avoid dangling one.
A bit of research and discussions with editor friends helped me decide that yes, I could transition from reader-critique to paid editing, with a clear conscience, for one reason: It turns out that there are a lot of types of editing.
I am quite skilled at “developmental editing.” According to the Reedsy site, which helps connect writers with resources, “Developmental editors look at everything-the forest and the trees, side-by-side. They make your whole book fit together better by examining everything from single words to overall structure. Nothing is sacred; developmental editing leads to rewriting as often as it does revision, so expect your work to change substantially.”
My friend Jay, was the first fiction writer to comment that I was good at catching things. I was doing a critique of his book, Daughter Cell, in 2013, and a character’s clothing description changed dramatically from the beginning of a scene to the end. That is the sort of continuity error that drives me insanely crazy when I catch it in a badly edited book, movie or TV series.
Instead of this being like all the other moments when I embarrass the dog by fuming impotently at the television, shouting, “She just survived a shootout in three feet of mud, how’d she suddenly get clean enough for a closeup, un-makeup-smudged, touching, romantic kiss! Where’s the MUD!!??!??!”, Jay, wrote me back, profoundly thankful that I had caught the error.
Other independent authors, either in my writing groups or referred, have allowed me to embrace this nit-picking, rule-following, tiny-detail-loving aspect of my personality (Virgo rising or some such thing in my natal chart). Since I’m going to see the errors when I read anyway, I might as well be helpful by pointing them out while the author can still do something about them.
Until I started to record The Corpse in The Cabana, I had no idea that the way I read, and the skills I bring to my job as a narrator, would be “useful” to authors. I read every word of every book because I love the words! I like to watch the images and scenes in my head, and I hear the language as if I was narrating. My ability to provide helpful edits boils down to a theory that my inner psych major adores: If they hooked me up to an MRI, the scans of my brain activity would look similar (if not identical) whether I was reading a book or watching a movie. Because my experience of the mediums is similar. (I like books better because a lot of soundtracks are distracting.)
At some level, I knew there were readers–furtive, closeted readers–who skimmed whole descriptive sections, or even (BLASPHEMY!) skipped to the end to decide whether or not to finish a book (you know who you are!). I have never been able to read that way or skip ahead. I even have a hard time putting down books I don’t like.
All of these “strange” qualities as a reader turn out to make me a useful developmental editor, someone who is attuned to what is missing from the “big picture” of the book. If I can’t visualize it, there may not be enough information. If that sounds wrong in my head, the language is a bit off. If a character takes an action that makes no sense, some scene is missing. And for heaven’s sakes, yes it does matter if a character put her hair up in a twist, but then loose waves of it are getting in her eyes a paragraph later.
Again, Reedsy advises, “Bring in a developmental editor when you’re ready to move beyond drafting, or when you feel there’s something missing but you need someone to help you see what it is.” So if you have fiction you need to improve prior to final copyediting, hit me up! I’m still fairly new so my rates are quite reasonable.