Note: in this day of crazy PC, ‘he’ means ‘he/she’. I should have written ‘she’. Sod it, sue me…
I Frequently hear writers mention they are in the depths of despair (or similar words) because of what a Beta Reader or an Editor has said/done to their manuscript. Well, all is far from lost. Disclaimer: I am talking about some Beta Readers and Editors. Some may be excellent. Let’s have a good look at Editors first:
1) Editors are not God.
While this may seem strikingly obvious, most people assign “God-like attributes” to an Editor. ‘What he says must be right’, as I am but a Writer, and he is an Editor. ‘He knows more than I do’. These and many other similar ideas exist in the minds of most Writers and are total nonsense. Often, as it is your work, you may know better than the Editor.
2) Editors are human and Writers are human.
Equal footings. Also, anyone can write and call themselves a Writer. Similarly, Anyone can call themselves an Editor and edit – I’ve thought about doing this myself based upon feedback I’ve had from some editors, I can pull better BS from my butt very easily, charge people £5 per page, and laugh as the unsuspecting writer re-writes their manuscript from scratch while I grow rich. Personally, I think that’s where most Editors are born. From their butt-holes where their head is firmly stuck.
3) Editors have a preferred writing style.
If your style is different, they will attempt to enforce their style while destroying yours. There is nothing wrong with your style (unless it’s just rubbish, that style isn’t in the list of different writing styles); there is merely an Editor/Writer conflict. Dump the Editor, don’t dump your style.
4) Editors can be wrong
Blasphemy? No, just stating the obvious, which many Writers seem to miss. I recently received a comment on a paragraph in one of my works: “Where has this come from? You need to write something early explaining it.” I didn’t bother replying “Try looking back two paragraphs dumbo.” – I just dumped that editor.
5) TRY the editor before you buy.
A bone-fide editor will, for example, offer to edit 3-4 pages or even a chapter, free, before you commit to any formal paid agreement. If They refuse, there is a reason, and that reason says “keep away”.
Bottom line, and this applies to good Editors also, it is your book, and it is quite okay to ignore editors comments (Unless you started a sentence with ‘Suddenly’). Take what fits with YOU, leave what does not; but always remembering – ‘Is there anything I can learn from what he says’. A good Writer is always learning. Do not though, especially if you are new to the craft, just ignore a comment. Reason it out. This is how you can learn much.
See comments above for editors except: some beta readers are just twats that can’t write and enjoy tearing peoples work apart for no reason. Take anything and often everything a beta reader may say with a huge pinch of salt. If you don’t like or feel hurt by a beta reader, for goodness sake, forget them and what they said, and NEVER use that person again.
I have just remembered I have a PhD. in Editing from Urglesborough University, and have been editing work successfully for the last 30 years. During this time I also became Professor of Linguistics at Piddletown University, where I taught for 20 years. I only charge £10 per page, and your work then will be accepted at anywhere you submit it to. Too many people ask for freebies, so I only accept work for which I rightfully will get paid. Please contact me for further bullshit… um, I mean details.