Getting Edited

Some writers love being edited, and others really, really don’t. Once we’re finished with our darling that we think is absolutely perfect as it is, the last thing we want is criticism. Ann Rice refuses to be edited. Other than proofreading, her words are all written exactly as she wants them. Most other writers, famous or otherwise, tend to have their work edited.

Getting your manuscript back with comments all over the place, and your favourite scene completely trashed could very well lead to apoplectic rage or rivers of tears. If so much is wrong then obviously you must be an absolutely rubbish writer and you may just as well give up could be your next thought—the one that comes after writing the rudest, most insultingly literate letter to your editor before hopefully having the good sense to delete it.

The thing to remember is that when it comes to changing your actual story, as an Indie, only you get to decide. You don’t have to take your editor’s suggestions on board if you don’t want to. Typos and grammar, yes, those must be fixed, but at the end of the day the story is only yours, and no editor is going to be cross with you for not agreeing with their suggestions. They’re just trying to help, but their tastes are different to yours, and many other people too. Just because you’ve hired an editor doesn’t mean that you are obligated to change anything at all, so if you’re happy with any parts of your book where changes are suggested, then rather get a second opinion or simply leave it as you like it.

A useful tool to use with Microsoft Word for when you do want input from others on your manuscripts, or vice versa by the way, is to be found in the Review tab. Click on Track Changes.

Track changes in word image.

You can change words, delete or insert.

Deleting in word image.

You can add comments.

add comments in word image

Changes can be approved or rejected.

approve changes in word image

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19 thoughts on “Getting Edited”

  1. Great post! I LOVE getting edited. Reading books and blogs about writing is helpful, but having someone go through my work line by line is irreplaceable because I can see the feedback applied directly to my work. I really like the comments field in Word because the editor can ask a question or explain why they are recommending a change (if necessary). And you are right, Jo, it’s up to me whether I want to accept the change (and I occasionally don’t). 🙂

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  2. I don’t like being edited. I give criticism far better than I take it, but I always get my work edited regardless, because I can’t remember there ever being a time in history when getting a second opinion hurt. Lol.

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  3. My son asked me to publish his book but refused to listen to my editing suggestions. Because I love him I finally agreed, but he did ask my wife and I to proofread “for typos and missing words only.” Carol, who is not a critical reader, is now laughing at his prose, many of the very passages and stylistic miscues I pointed out to him.

    Indie writers, seek out an experienced editor. Fiction if you write fiction, non-fiction if you write non-fiction (it makes a difference, although I edited both for years).

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  4. Great post, Jo, and a subject very dear to me. A good editor will always explain any suggestions they make which aren’t self-explanatory, either as comments in the margin or via a phone/email/Skype/author’s-preferred-method-of-communication Q&A session once the author has worked through the edited manuscript.

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  5. I welcome edits and as an editor as well as a writer, I’m careful with how I approach my comments. I feel that the job of the editor is to provide the best comments and corrections with clarity and mechanics, but it is the author’s choice on how they use those suggestions. I know some editors rewrite for authors, but that’s like an art critic putting a blob of paint on a work of art.

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  6. Agree, agree! Editing the writing, so important. When I edit (screenplay currently), I make suggestions, mostly to clarify the scene. Both suggestions & structural edits are taken well. The Microsoft tracking option is great to work with. 💛 Elizabeth

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  7. Thanks Jo. Great article. Good points.
    It can be scary getting feedback on your precious work. However, I am a member of a wonderful critique group for my current manuscripts – some feedback (from all aspects of writing and grammar) is blunt or suggestions are offered. I have found that even people who are out of genre or don’t like a genre can give valuable insight or ask questions. If there is particular grammar or spelling for your work that is genre specific then you can always state this to your editor (I did with my published book on ethics and psychic phenomena/readings). It is important to work with one’s editor so you’re both on the same page …!
    Happy writing.

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  8. I always use the Review tab when I write. I put it on and leave it on. I don’t always agree, but find it helpful. I also use the Thesaurus provided plus a paper copy of a Thesaurus. I avail myself of all the help I can get. I also love Grammarly as a spelling aid.and check on commas. Good piece, Jo. 🙂 — Suzanne

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  9. Great post. And I love that you mentioned about not having to accept everything the editor suggests. I once had a bad experience with a new editor who tried to change my story so much it was no longer my voice. I wasted so much time with rewrites trying to conform to her when it was no longer me. I finally went back to my original editor when I found the proverbial grass wasn’t greener elsewhere. 🙂

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