At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (Click here to read my post from that night), many authors on the panel spoke about the importance of editing. No brainer, right? Well, you might be surprised.
There are a lot of people out there who have written a “great story” and sent it right out to agents, burned their bridges, and never had a beta read. I know you are nodding your head. Hopefully it’s because you KNOW someone, and you are not the culprit.
I ALMOST did this around a year and a half ago (Wow, has it been that long already?) I finished HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT. I edited the heck out of it with only my own input, and I was about to send it out. I had trouble finding someone to read it for me, and I was confident, so I was going to skip this step…. but something told me to go out and find a beta reader. I found a guy I didn’t know, and we exchanged manuscripts. That’s when I found out that I had a great story **Yay**, HOWEVER, my presentation stank.
Author Jon Gibbs said “People send their work off too soon” He noted that when we read someone else’s work, we read what they wrote. (Duh, right?) Well think this over — When we read our OWN work, we read what we THINK WE WROTE.
How true is this? I never noticed my lack of setting or character description, because I KNEW what everything looked like. (Among many other problems my beta reader pointed out) You really need to get a few people to look at your novel while you are editing to make sure you are writing what you THINK you are writing. It actually took me about four beta readers to whack me upside the head and set me straight on this.
Jennifer R. Hubbard admitted that she didn’t edit enough when she started out, and that she was getting rejections. The book she revised 12 times and had others read was the one that got published. (I guess she is talking about “The Secret Year”)
Danielle Ackley McPhail suggested having different kinds of readers in the editing phase… Beta readers will help make your writing better, and “just plain readers” will tell you if the story flows and is enjoyable. She also suggested making sure one of your “just readers” is someone who does not normally read your genre to get a different perspective.
So, if you are like me, and have people in your life pushing you to get your stuff out there… stick to your guns. Do your beta-read drills. Edit after their comments, and then DO MORE BETA READ DRILLS.
I am excited to say that I am sending out HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT for the third round of beta-reads (and three “just plain readers”) shortly. After six beta readers, and editing and revising it with reckless abandon for well over a year, I think I’ve finally really written what I think I’ve written. If not, I have full confidence that my readers will “Let me have it”.
I am going to look for new readers too, so I can get some fresh perspectives. I am really looking forward to seeing if all this hard work has paid off!