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Writing Process & Programs > Polishing for an edit?

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message 1: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) Hello everyone. Happy writing. Was looking for some feedback on the professional edit. I recently hired a developmental editor for my debut novel. I have heard a lot of people say the work should be as good as you can get it before sending it. Has anyone found they would never be done self-editing if this were the case? I am nearly done with line edits on my own and am wondering if its a waste of time if I work through it again? To be clear, I intend to finish this last edit, but where does it stop? I know its not perfect, but I begin working with the editor in May and wanted to step away from this book for a bit and work on my second to clear the pallet so to speak.


message 2: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Persson | 2 comments I've worked with a developmental editor too on my debut novel and they do (are supposed to anyway) big picture stuff. If your novel is descently polished I wouldn't worry too much. Your dev editor might ask you to rewrite big chunks of your novel and then you'll regret having spent all that time on polish :)

It's probably a better idea to get some distance from your novel so you can look at it with fresh eyes together with the dev editor.


message 3: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 726 comments Mod
If all you correct in your self-done edit pass is just a few words per chapter, I think it's okay. It's pretty much impossible to catch everything and if you were re-reading it until you find nothing, it could take forever.


message 4: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) C.J. wrote: "I've worked with a developmental editor too on my debut novel and they do (are supposed to anyway) big picture stuff. If your novel is decently polished I wouldn't worry too much. Your dev editor ..."

Thanks. These were my thoughts too. Each time I do another pass I am fixing things-- now that I am at the word level I could polish forever. After this last run through I will read it all the way through and take three weeks away from it.


message 5: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) Tomas wrote: "If all you correct in your self-done edit pass is just a few words per chapter, I think it's okay. It's pretty much impossible to catch everything and if you were re-reading it until you find nothi..."

I am doing some significant word changes on this pass, but it is my first-word level edit. I plan to do a read through and wait on my dev. edit.


message 6: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 404 comments I believe you should edit until you're sick of it. This may mean once or a dozen times. It's different for each person, but at that point, your edits will be sub-par, and your brain will scream for anything else to do. To me, that's the sign of "as good as you can get it."


message 7: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Chapman | 150 comments My understanding of a developmental edit is that big chunks of your novel might need to be changed / taken out, as the editor looks at the structure and content of the book, so doing a lot of detailed editing at a paragraph/ sentence level yourself before you send it may not be necessary. I had a manuscript critique of my most recent two novels and my editor said that I probably wanted to send my manuscripts sooner rather than later so I could get her feedback and not end up undoing work I'd done. If you're not sure how polished your book should be before you send it you could maybe ask your editor for their advice :)


message 8: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 726 comments Mod
L.K. wrote: "If you're not sure how polished your book should be before you send it you could maybe ask your editor for their advice"

That's actually a good idea. Send a few chapters and ask. If they tell you it needs work, you can resume editing. If they tell you it's good enough, send the rest.


message 9: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Dev editors, from what I've read, often get involved before the first draft is done, so I'd echo what others have said: earlier is better than later to avoid unnecessary work.


message 10: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) Phillip wrote: "I believe you should edit until you're sick of it. This may mean once or a dozen times. It's different for each person, but at that point, your edits will be sub-par, and your brain will scream for..."

I am on my... sixth self-edit. I have not reached the sick of it stage, but I am finding I love editing. I didn't think I would, but I love to see all the red and reading the improvements. I plan to hire a line editor after this dev edit. As this is my first book I am trying to learn as much from each editor as I can for my next book.


message 11: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) L.K. wrote: "My understanding of a developmental edit is that big chunks of your novel might need to be changed / taken out, as the editor looks at the structure and content of the book, so doing a lot of detai..."

I hired my editor from Reedsy-- they required a sample, which I think was three chapters. I received good feedback from the sample I sent, so that might be my answer. Thanks so much.


message 12: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 143 comments Do you have a writer friend you could run it by? Someone who knows something about writing can let you know what the really obvious flaws are. I am embarrassed to say I was head-hopping, but had a friend kind enough to point it out to me.

Editors are great, but they can only do so much. Most of the work is up to you.


message 13: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) Eileen wrote: "Do you have a writer friend you could run it by? Someone who knows something about writing can let you know what the really obvious flaws are. I am embarrassed to say I was head-hopping, but had a ..."

I have no writerly friends. I think I will be looking around FB for a critique partner for my next WIP. I def don't mind paying a professional, but I have read mixed opinions about when to turn it over to them. As I am planning on having at least two more edits I am confident it will become the best book I can make it. I want to learn as much from them as I can.


message 14: by Jay (new)

Jay Greenstein (jaygreenstein) | 249 comments A few things you might look at before sending to the editor:

1. Be certain you've handled the three issues a writer should address quickly on entering each scene, before the reader needs that knowledge.

2. Verify that scenes end in disaster for the protagonist, and lead cleanly into its sequel.

3. Verify that the protagonist's short-term scene-goal is initiated and maintained through each scene.

4. Do a check for crutch words (sometimes called filter words) to strengthen viewpoint.

5. Verify that there's one motivation for each response, and only one response for each motivation.

Hope this helps


message 15: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) Jay wrote: "A few things you might look at before sending to the editor:

1. Be certain you've handled the three issues a writer should address quickly on entering each scene, before the reader needs that know..."


Jay, thanks so much for this. Very helpful.


message 16: by Elliot (new)

Elliot Jackman (elliotjackman) | 21 comments Only one book worth of experience, however, I am a software developer, so I’m pretty methodical about getting things I’ve written into production. Some of my thoughts:

1. Do hire a professional, friends are great, but you need someone that's seen lots of books and not afraid to tell you that you should remove chapters 2 & 3 (Even though they’re your favorites)

2. DO NOT spend lots of time proof reading and polishing sentences. Don't misunderstand, your book should be close to publish quality, not a hack. My meaning is that I threw out the first 5 chapters and re-wrote the whole front of the book after dev edit feedback. Book increased by 20k words. Polishing sentences would have been a complete waste of time.

3. Hiring a pro dev editor before your book is done means hiring them twice or more, as they usually have a wait time of weeks to months, so don't feel like they will just be available to chat with you 24x7 as you work on the book. That's unlikely. If you’re part way through the book and not happy with the way it’s making you feel when you read it, then by all means get someone. No sense trudging through writing hundreds of pages that you might throw out. They charge by word count, so there will only be a partial overlap in costs when you do it again with more completed.

4. The very best thing to do is read your book out loud, preferably with someone else there. I didn't start this until after the dev editor, but it really helps to find things that just don't feel right. Many are difficult to notice when you read silently.

5. Make the call to commit to it being done, then hire the line editor for spelling/grammar. Once you’re done with that editing, which was the worst grind for me, then one more out loud reading and put a bow on it.

Whether you use Reedsy or Upwork or some other method, have them edit the first two or three chapters and pay them for it.

Remember, a good editor is not necessarily the one that tells you you’re the best they’ve ever seen. There are some that edit stuff just to edit too, so you have to really think about what they said to decide on who to use. I had one sample edit where they broke my first sentence into three sentences. I was like, really?

If the dev editor gets hung up on sentences, then they may not be the right person. I feel that they may be a line editor trying to become a dev editor. For me, I wanted someone to help with character development concerns, feedback on issues with plot and general feelings about things the characters where doing or saying. I felt that sentence structure and stuff could wait until the end.

I read my book about ten times from front to back. I also read it out loud three times.


message 17: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 143 comments Elliot wrote: "Only one book worth of experience, however, I am a software developer, so I’m pretty methodical about getting things I’ve written into production. Some of my thoughts:

1. Do hire a professional, f..."


I have never read my books out loud, but I think it is a good idea. If not, get a lot of beta readers.


message 18: by Eva (new)

Eva MacKenzie (evamackenzie) I have read my book out loud front to back at least twice now. I love reading it aloud, and not just the dialogue. This is all very good advice.
Elliot: I think you answered my question in your second point listed. I feel as though I am wasting a bit of time on polishing if, in fact, I am going to have to do major rewrites. I just know there are two schools of thought out there-- make it as good as you can make it on your own before you hire someone. Which to me means at the word level. I hired a dev editor to look at big picture things though.


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