In last month’s blog, I presented two of your questions to my friend, a fellow author (Bristlecone Magic), and master editor, Dennis De Rose. (Dennis De Rose @Moneysaver Editing and find reviews and more here!
His response was so well received that I shared with him three more of your questions numbering them three to five for discussion with last month’s two questions. And, no surprise, he happily responded to them. So, in this blog, I will share Dennis’s thoughts and comments on three more of your questions. And allow him to add anything else he would like to share with you. Below Dennis’s comments, I have attached my Craft Talk on self-editing as a refresher.
Question Three: “What are the most common mistakes authors make in selecting an editor?”
- Rushing to select an editor without vetting him or her. How do you know if you’re a ‘good fit’ if you don’t take time to get to know or talk to him or her. Make sure you ask the right questions.
- $$$ A few things: Don’t settle for the cheapest you can find. You get what you pay for. Do not pay for the job before it’s begun. But expect to pay something upfront as a retainer fee. By the same token, don’t overpay either; be aware of the going rate for the type of editing you expect.
- You wrote it; he did not. Don’t allow the editor to change your voice. You have every right to disagree with his changes but give him a chance to explain why he did what he did.
Question Four: “What are the most common mistakes authors make in their writing that a lot of editors point out or that a lot of editors might miss?”
- He said, she said. Some writers sprinkle these like salt when it is not necessary, especially when only two people are talking.
- The dreaded comma. How many times have you seen commas where they don’t belong or are not needed. What bugs me is seeing a comma before the word and. And it is a connector, so why pause with a comma.
- Compound words (two-by-four, look-see, high-five). Writers and editors are often guilty of missing them. If you’re uncertain, take the time to look it up.
- Filler words. If, and, but, etc. If you can read the sentence w/o them and it sounds right, delete them. Every word you don’t need adds to your printing costs, so be frugal. It also helps to speed up the read.
- Repetition of those pet peeve words. Be aware of how often you use certain ‘favorite’ words. It happens to all of us.
Question Five: “Nick lists ten steps of editing. Nick also suggests we not do them all at once. Of these steps, which are best to leave for a professional editor? And which should we do first, second…last?”
Dennis’s Response: As a writer, I do not break down editing into steps, but for some, it may be crucial. Do not obsess over ‘what-ifs.’ You’ll drive yourself crazy. Do not worry about plot holes. I said Tom when I meant John-don’t sweat it. This sentence sounds clunky. This paragraph/chapter is too long… You know what? Let your editor handle those things but work together to make your book the best it can be. You owe it to yourself and your hard work. Remember, take the time to write right…right?
Additional Comments from Dennis:
- Many writers believe quantity trumps quality. But I have to write as many books as I can and as quickly as I can. Be my guest, but how many will you sell? Readers deserve to read well-written books, not shoddily written garbage. After all, they are paying good money.
- Do your research. Take time to check out the BBB and sites like PISSEDOFFCONSUMER.COM. For every excellent publisher (or editor), there are ten ready to take your money and run!
- Don’t spend $125 for 1 ISBN. You’re wasting your money. Instead, buy 10 for approx. $ 300. One title may require 3 ISBN’s depending on your chosen formats.
If you have any other questions feel free to contact me MONEYSAVER EDITING at DDEROSE@HVC.RR.COM.
Unabashed promo: I just finished writing my first novel, Bristlecone Magic, and Nick was nice enough to read it. Ask Nick or me about it if you’d like to know more.
Nick’s Craft Talk: A 10-Step Plan for Self-editing
Never do your self-editing all at once. As you begin the rewriting process, you also start the editing process. This is the art and the heart of it; when you begin to build castles and the rewrites, you can share with your writing group or your initial reader. A poorly edited manuscript is certain death for any legitimate agent or publisher. And it is one of the things within control along the journey to publication. Learning how to edit your manuscript will not only reduce cost but will improve your skill as a writer. Do it.
- Review opening and closing lines for each scene. Why did you stop the scene with that line? Why did you start the new scene with that line? Always asking, “Why do I (the reader) want to go on?”
- Eliminate (unless included for a good reason) passive voice.
- Get out of the way of the action. For example, don’t say – “Angelo, felt his stomach drop as he realized he left his knife at home.” Instead, say, “Angelo’s stomach dropped. His knife was home.”
- Review for story and plot– does it hold together? Does this scene move the story along?
- Make a list of the promises you made and the foreshadowing, and edit to ensure that you have kept your promises and fulfilled the foreshadowing.
- Edit for repetition. Search for repeated statements, descriptions, and words. Search for your most often used words.
- Eliminate as many adverbs (especially “very”) as possible.
- Do a surgical edit. Reduce the word count. Don’t kill your darlings but do imprison them in another file on your computer or folder.
- Have someone (or the computer) read your story out loud.
- Finally, and only if you’re like me, consider a final professional line edit. I can’t do that myself, I tend to read past mistakes, but maybe you can.
If you’re looking for support groups for writers, I highly recommend the Wisconsin Writers Association. Go to, https://wiwrite.org/
Thank you for hanging with me. Keep writing, and please stay brilliant, healthy, and hopeful, ~ Nick