Lessons I Learned After Hiring Professional Editors

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cotton_nightie

© Cotton Nightie

Cotton Nightie

Guest Writer @ GoneWithTheWord

Now that I’ve worked with a handful of different editors I can share some lessons I’ve learned. It takes a deft touch to tell someone that something they created isn’t working without making the criticism seem personal. Some editors I’ve worked with offered criticisms that, while honest, were not especially constructive. The best editors can not only point out your mistakes, but suggest a way to fix them in a way that stays true to your voice. You want an editor to help strengthen a story while remaining honest about its faults.

The hardest lesson I learned highlighted the difference between stories written primarily to earn money and those with other goals. Genre fiction promises to provide readers with stories that meet their expectations. If you read a thriller, you expect danger and suspense. If you read a romance, you expect that happily ever after. Working with an editor who understands a genre can be of value, but it may be necessary to defend aspects of a story that are more important to you than how much it will earn.

Working with professional editors has changed my writing for the better. My current editor, Annie Hilen, has helped me see my weaknesses with dialog tags, participle phrases, sentence structure issues, plot and character inconsistencies, and keeping the plot focused on the key aspects of the story. In my latest book, Something Different, she kept the Cajun accent I used for various characters consistent and made the story flow so much better than I had originally outlined. She read the chapters as I wrote them, giving me feedback on pacing and emotional impact while there was still time to make substantive changes to improve the story.

No matter where you need help, an editor will help improve your writing. Finding an editor has more in common with making a friend than hiring someone. I’ve worked with a number of very good editors, but it takes time to learn to trust their judgment. Now that I do, they can tell me when my writing stinks, and I’ll happily pay them for that privilege if it means more readers will enjoy my work.

Cotton Nightie is a best-selling author who has established Cotton Nightie Press; a boutique publisher for the kinds of romantic stories you want to curl up with.  

 

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