I’ve been asked why I would hire an editor, since I am an editor myself. Isn’t this a waste of money and time?
The answer is simple: No, it is not a waste of money or time. I’m too close to the book to see the mistakes or recognize the places it could be better. Although I will always perform a self-edit before I send it off to another editor, I know from experience that I’ll miss things.
Here is what I expect from my editor and the Manuscript Critique. First, I must recognize that it is an editor’s job to point out what does not work and where the problems are in a manuscript. They hunt for the bad stuff, so naturally they can sound negative and discouraging even though they might be positive, kind-hearted people. (I certainly try to be.)
The trick for the editor is to point out the good stuff too, and the trick for the writer is to hold on to their vision for the book in the face of the realization that it’s not yet perfect. (Actually nothing is ever perfect, not even carefully edited manuscripts.)
It usually takes an editor about two to three weeks to finish a first read-through of a manuscript and write an overall evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses. (Depending on her schedule, of course.) I expect her to make general suggestions and some specific suggestions about how to fix the weaknesses and highlight the strengths.
I want to know if she thinks Grandma’s Masks shows heart and humor, and that its theme of the elusive nature of truth is evident throughout. I want to know if this is a fun book to read. I want to know if the end is satisfying or if it leaves the reader hanging. (Actually with Grandma’s Masks, the reader is supposed to be left hanging.)
I want to know if she thinks the chapters are in an order that makes sense and the story arc moves the characters and the action along. I want to know if the editor/reader gets confused at any point, and what she is confused about. I want to know if she thinks the sentences are too wordy or too long. I want to know if she thinks more dialogue is needed, or less description, or there aren’t enough sensory details.
When I get the manuscript critique back, my first reaction will probably be a bit of hurt feelings. What do you mean, my baby isn’t perfect? Then I will get over it. I’ll try a few of her suggestions, and then I’ll see that they make the book better. Then I’ll try a few more.