A Hollywood legend says that Fred Astaire’s first screen test led to this critique: “Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.” I remember this when I think about my career as a professional writer–it’s all just a matter of the right people seeing your work. And that’s how I feel about being an editor/manuscript doctor for other writers–just because your book might need work, that doesn’t mean it can’t eventually shine!
Let’s assume you’ve just spent weeks (if you participated in NaNoWriMo), months or maybe even years to finally complete your book. Now, you want to get it out there, to agents and publishers, as quickly as possible. But you know it needs some more work.
Problem is, you’re tired of looking at the damned thing. You can’t keep track of what your characters have done or should do. It’s too big. You have continuity issues and some scenes feel flat. You need a fresh pair of eyes.
Asking friends and family is one idea, but you can’t always expect complete honesty from them–they don’t want to hurt your feelings if (when) they have to tell you that your book isn’t yet perfect. Plus, you may be putting them in a tough position. This is a lot of time and effort to invest, as a favor. And, most importantly, they probably don’t know what an editor looks for.
That’s what I do for you. I’m a professional, fresh pair of eyes. I recognize when “show, don’t tell” becomes an issue. I notice when a character or dialog is unrealistic or underdeveloped. I can see when you were rushing a scene to get it over with, so you could get on to the next one.
Why else you need a pro:
Image source: my actual desktop
It takes a lot of time and focused concentration to read your work-in-progress. It’s unpolished and, frankly, sometimes hard to understand. The writer has left out important details and some of the sentences are clumsy. Some of the prose is too dense.
This is not a judgment–it’s simply the nature of the beast. We all do it.
Meantime, it’s also the editor’s job to pay careful attention to the plot and continuity, to learn your characters and watch for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Your manuscript’s issues take up space in the professional editor’s mental cloud and receive front burner attention, just like when you were writing it.
Why I love being an editor:
I love being an editor because I am really good at helping other writers get through this frustrating aspect of creating a solid manuscript. It helps both of us to become better writers, because we learn from one another.
I love to encourage my clients to reach higher and keep getting better at their craft. It takes a lot of guts to actually finish writing a book. Only someone who has accomplished this feat can understand what it means, and how difficult it can be to ask for help, without knowing what kind of cruel critique we may receive in return.
I know how hard writers can be on themselves and that they sometimes need a little hand-holding. Being a writer is one of the most absurd, yet rewarding things one can do. And sometimes we need a little help from a professional friend.
How to hire me:
I work through a company called Book Marketing International. The advantage to hiring me through BMI, as opposed to direct freelance, is that your manuscript will pass through the hands of Linda Langton, a successful NY literary agent.
Because Linda knows what publishers are looking for (they want publication-ready submissions, these days), she can tell you exactly how much work your manuscript needs. The bonus is, if your book is good, she’ll help you to get it sold.
Tell her Lisa Bonnice sent you. 😉
Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author and editor/manuscript doctor (and former stand-up comedienne—is there anything she can’t do???). Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife, mom and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her.