In Chapter 1 of Birth of a Children’s Book, I talked to you about the importance of hiring an editor. In Chapter 2, let’s talk about what it’s like to work with a professional editor. It isn’t easy! Putting your pride aside never is.
What is editing? A lot of self-publishers think it’s checking for typos and fixing grammatical errors. This is proof-reading. Important, but only part of editing. What are the other parts?*
2. Consistent point-of-view (I struggle with this)
*See links at end of article for information on each.
For me, after writing for decades, a lot of it is intuitive. I don’t worry about proof-reading at all for the early edits. If I catch a typo or grammatical error, that’s great. But, I leave those details to my editor. (Sorry, Sara!) Occasionally other writers ask me to review their children’s stories. When authors give me their manuscript for feedback, it’s clear they believe they are just a few tweaks away from publishing their book. When I started out, I thought this was true of my work, too.
Now I expect that my story is going to change. When you accept that, you open yourself up to great opportunities. My main editor, Sara Dean, has contributed to the best lines in my books. I hesitate to tell you her name because I want her all to myself. (No, I’m not kidding.) When Sara edited one of my early stories, Bagel Boy, she completely changed a couple of scenes that I thought were perfect. I read it and thought, “She is not taking away my voice.” Over-dramatic, I know. But, I truly felt violated. I was absolutely, positively not going to make those changes.
I set the edited manuscript aside for a few days. Then decided that I was being very defensive. I realized that her version was a great improvement. More than that, I added a line that improved the scene. This would not have happened if Sara hadn’t “taken away my voice.” That sounds so ridiculous to me now.
See the original scene, Sara’s edits, and the one that was ultimately published in Bagel Boy.
To find great editors who charge affordable rates, try online freelance companies such as Elance.com and oDesk.com. There are many to choose from; these are the ones I have personally used.
Don’t stress out about editing, but don’t go it alone. Keeping an open mind and setting aside your pride can make your stories better than you ever imagined.
Read Chapter 1 of Birth of a Children’s Book
Read Chapter 3 of Birth of a Children’s Book
Credits: Bagel Boy by Aviva Gittle, illustrated by Jennifer Chappell
There are lots of resources that give great advice on how to edit. Here are some good articles to get you started:
1. Phrasing (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phrasing)
2. Consistent point-of-view (I strugglewith this) (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-point-of-view-in-literature.html)
3. Flow (http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/flow/)
4. Rhythm (http://www.dailywritingtips.com/5-tips-about-writing-with-rhythm/)
Great article, Aviva! Thank you for sharing your experiences, I truly enjoy reading them and learning from them.
Thanks, Mariana! It’s been a long and winding road. 🙂 I hope people can learn something from my experience writing and publishing children’s books. Next, I’ll be talking about selecting illustrators.
Very interesting and you are so right about keeping an open mind for changes.
Can´t wait to read the other chapters
Thanks, Eva! You’ve inspired me to get going on the next chapter. 🙂