I am a published author. But it wasn’t all plain sailing, let me tell you. I wrote drafts of two whole books before I wrote my draft of The Mentor Within. Both had value, but I couldn’t quite get to the stage where I was prepared to send them to an editor and move through the process of finalisation and publication. I think, in part, I was just scared.
This is not unusual. I have clients, colleagues and friends who have had a tough time getting to the end of their writing projects: it’s hard to put your words out into the world. Strangely enough, the very person who is paid to help you to make it happen is often the same person we are too scared to show our document to. The dreaded editor.
Now what is it about editors that scares us so? What do we really think they will say to us? That it’s rubbish? That all our work was for naught? Or are we just projecting our self-judgement onto our poor unsuspecting editor?
When I finished my 50,000-word draft of The Mentor Within, I worked on it just a bit more here, and edited it a bit there. I was sure the Table of Contents wasn’t right. I wondered where my stories best fitted. I lay in bed and fretted about whether I was using the right heading structure, whether I had repeated myself, and whether it could ever be good enough to print.
What was I doing? I reckon the same as every other first-time author. I was avoiding hitting the send button.
Well, I have a tip for any budding author. HIT THAT SEND BUTTON. It took Michael Hanrahan in a “Chat With The Author” moment for me to finally release my precious document into my editor’s hands for a first peep. Michael said:
- most new authors are scared to send their first draft in
- it is the editor’s job to tell the author if the document needs work
- he and his colleagues are not shy about telling people to rework sections
- the editor will not let ‘rubbish’ slip through.
In short, he told me that it is the editor’s job is to help you see what you can’t see because you are too close to the document. His reassurance helped me to release my precious ‘baby’ for a first health check.
And now I’ll take the liberty of offering a few tips for when you finally do send your draft to your editor:
1. DO IT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER
Why struggle through the whole process by yourself? The sooner you start to get feedback, the sooner you can publish. Get some tips while you are writing rather than when everything is complete. Support for structure and style go a long way.
2. STOP JUDGING YOURSELF
And hey presto you’ll stop thinking the editor will judge you. Simple, really.
3. MAKE SURE THE EDITOR YOU CHOOSE IS GOOD FOR YOU
You have to have a good partnership with your editor, so work on a trial piece first to see what you think of their feedback.
4. DIARISE THE EXACT DATES OF THE EDITING PING-PONG
Decide who gets to work on the document when, and stick to it. There’s more back and forth than you realise.
5. ADD 10 DAYS JUST BEFORE THE FINALISATION OF THE BOOK
Make sure you take one last read through, cover to cover, before your final edit. This is the step that most editors and writers forget to plan for. It gives you the confidence to know that everything is done.
So there you have it. Think of your editor as your mate. He or she is there to help you get the best possible product out and the sooner you let that person help you, the sooner you can complete your book.