There comes a time in every novel’s life when it is time to leave the safe haven of the author’s computer and journey out into the world. Before it reaches retailer shelves, a variety of individuals should read and critique your masterpiece.
One of the first editors who helped my novels on their journeys into the world was Marion Archer, a developmental editor who was instrumental in helping me to develop my craft. I asked her to join me on the latest First Draft Friday chat to share her editing wisdom.
Are your editors familiar with your genre?
I encourage you to watch the full video, but here is a quick breakdown of her top tips:
Make sure your editing/beta team reads the genre you’re working in.
Every genre has it own feel, pace, and specificities. You want an editor who is familiar with those genre norms – but one who also genuinely enjoys the genre and can advise you from a reader’s perspective as well as an editor’s.
Make sure your editors have applicable life experience and/or insight.
A well-rounded editor will have a variety of life experience and real-world knowledge that she or he can apply to the read. For example, a widowed woman might be able to help you deliver a loss-of-loved-one book in a realistic fashion. A younger editor might be a better fit for the dialogue and character perspectives of your young-adult.
An important note: Your editor doesn’t have to be an expert on everything that occurs in your novel. But you should consider adding beta readers or copy editors who can lend their own wisdom and experiences to the read and might offer insights that a single editor couldn’t.
For this reason, your team might change from book to book as the plot, genre, location and characters are unique to that book.
A few examples of folks with special insights you might want on your team:
- an Australian reader to make sure that your language, descriptions, lifestyles and references are accurate to the Melbourne location
- someone with a culinary background since your main character is a chef and her job plays a significant role in the book
- a sensitivity reader to make sure that the characters who are Black, indigenous or persons of color are accurately represented in the book.
Bonus tip from Marion: When you’re looking at prospective betas, one great way to see their feedback potential is to ask them for three-star reviews they have written (three stars are nice because the beta typically points out strengths and weaknesses of a book). Another, even better option is to request a sample letter of feedback that the beta author has done in the past.
Here’s the transcript of our First Draft Friday conversation:
Alessandra: Hey everyone. This is First Draft Friday. I’m your host Alessandra Torre. First Draft Friday is brought to you by Authors AI. So we have watchers joining us from YouTube and Facebook. And if you’re listening to the podcast after the fact, it’s great to have you. We’re so excited today to be talking about building an editing team, and I have the perfect person to talk about that, and that’s Marion Archer. Me and Marion have quite a history. I’ll share that in a minute, but Marion, do you want to just introduce yourself and share a little bit about yourself?
Marion: Sure. Well, firstly, I guess I’m Australian. So if you can’t understand me, I do apologize in advance. I’ll try and speak slowly because I know that’s what normally catches people. I’m a freelance editor and I work from home, which has been fantastic of course, with COVID. And I’ve been working on books probably for eight, nine years now, as a developmental editor first, and then it morphed into doing line edits, copy edits, not so much proofreading though.
Alessandra: What genres do you work in?
Marion: Always romance. Although I have done a lot of women’s fiction too now I think about it, so yeah.
Alessandra: Yeah. So Marion and I have worked on, I don’t know how many books, but…
Marion: I think 12.
Alessandra: 12, yeah. If I have a more complex plot or if it’s something that is more women’s fiction, I really like to bring in Marion because she has such a great eye for characters and their thoughts and is great with deeper books. Not that romance books aren’t deep because a lot of them are, but that’s one of your strengths – relationships and complexities of thought. As Marion mentioned, she is a developmental editor, but also works outside the lines a little bit into copy and line. So to kick off, first of all, can you tell us about the different types of editors, and if someone is building an editing team, what all do they need?
Marion: Definitely, if you’re a new author particularly, you need to build an editing team. You’ll never get one editor who will actually find every mistake. You might not even get two or three that will find every mistake. So don’t ever think that just because you have one editor that you don’t… everything’s done. There are different steps. Often, people start with their beta readers so they can get a story, I guess, content back to them and where the story is going. Do people like the characters, do they like the storyline? The next step would be your developmental editor often. I have a service that includes and sort of blurs the lines between developmental copy in line. So I actually had to look up the definitions to really get my head around what they were, but essentially, your developmental editor then is trying to work on building the story, making sure that the characterization is there, making sure your story arc and your plot and your character arcs are there as well. They’re looking at narration versus dialogue, internal thought, like, there’s a whole bunch of stuff they’re looking at, but basically, they’re like the angel on your shoulder I think giving you helpful feedback, constructive feedback, but also truthful. And honesty is the key, but they must respect you as well because you know, it’s your work, it’s your baby, so we don’t want to upset you, but you really do need to have that constructive, trusted voice in your ear. The next step after developmental is your line editor, and the line editor is someone who is often quite a stylistic editor because they’re wanting to make sure they maintain the author’s style of voice. They are looking line by line, they’re making sure that the words, the sentences are effective because you’ll find that there’s often a lot of words. And when you are writing, there are lots of extra bits and pieces you don’t really need. And that’s perfectly normal, but the line editor is there to clean up those sentences, and I often call them de-cluttering or trimming. Trimming out the fat, all the miscellaneous words you don’t really need. They also look for repetition of phrases, of words, and believe me every old that has a couple of words that they always use, so what do, we watch out for that.
Alessandra: I call them crutch words.
Marion: Definitely, definitely. We call it editing crutch words. Yeah, I agree. So they do polish, they try to avoid clichés, look for more specific word choice, and you will find when I do a line edit for you, I’m very particular about no repetition. So if I see something five lines up, I go, “Oh, we’ve just used that word. Can we use something else?” But that’s sort of the sources for, you know, like that’s my job. A copy editor aims to, I guess, make sure the prose is readable as possible. So they’re looking at the grammar, the punctuation, the spelling, making sure it’s succinct, correcting any errors that are normal to miss. And they also look at the style guide. So if you are writing toward a style guide, whether it be the AP or… gosh, what’s the other one called, I use it all the time, Chicago manual. Yeah, so depending on what style guide you are, the copy editor’s job is to make sure you adhere to those rules, or if it’s US grammar, for example, making sure it’s US grammar and punctuation. Which is always kind of fun when you’re working with say, I’ve worked with an Irish and an American author doing a duo. And when I was working on the American writing the Irish person, I had to make sure that he wasn’t using the word purse, which we would call handbag or bonnet and hood and different things like that. So looking for those words and fact-checking, that’s how the job of a copy editor to fact check. Pardon me. To make sure whatever you said or quoted or spelled is correct, particularly, if it’s a well-known name or location.
Alessandra: And I just want to hop in and say for a lot of you watching, you might not have the budget to hire three different editors. I mean, I’m a professional author and I don’t have the budget oftentimes to hire three different editors. So the beauty or a lot in the Indie world, which by Indie I mean self-published, there are a lot of fiction authors that will kind of do all in one. So you’ll see a price a lot of times if you ask for their rates, you’ll see developmental editing is X cents per thousand words, you know? And then, an all-in will be this or copy will be this. So ideally, It’s great to have three different eyes on it and doing it, but if you don’t have the budget to hire three different people, then you can find someone. And I feel like if you’re going to invest in one, I think developmental editing is the most crucial. In my opinion, is development editing really makes the book captivating and reading. But what authors will notice is those typos and misspelled words and word repetition, they will notice too. So if you don’t have the budget for a line editor or proofreader; invest in Grammarly and Marlowe, which is our product, will help with fresh words, those clichés, and pointing out that sort of thing. So, you can find digital tools that will help if you don’t have the budget for that.
Marion: You can. You can, but it is. I do. I do think that is something you want to invest in. And if you are going to ask one person, I would actually never ask one, I’d at least get a proofreader in if you can’t afford line and copy. And also, but your developmental editor may not actually have the line copy skills. So you do want to look for someone who can do those things. Yeah, so that’s a good thing. But definitely, having a proofreader at the very end is really helpful as well.
Alessandra: And you mentioned betas in the beginning, so your suggestion because this is a question I get a lot from authors and I don’t really know the right answer. So is it good to bring in betas before developmental edits are done? Because a lot of times my book transforms dramatically during those edits.
Alessandra: Yeah. So I guess it depends on you as an author, because for me, my first drafts are really, really rough where you might write off an outline and you might have really clean, polished first draft. So, are there multiple times you bring in beta editors? Do you suggest they come in before? Do you, as a editor, like for a book to have passed through betas first before it hits you?
Marion: That really depends on the author, to be honest with you. So for you, for example, you might give me a really raw draft, but I know that’s going to morph and change. So I know that I might read that version, I might read four or five versions of a book before I know you actually then start getting it seriously edited. I think it really does depend on the relationship between the beta reader and the author, and also the confidence that you have. So I prefer not to receive any really raw drafts when I know I’m only seeing it twice. So if I’m seeing a developmental read, for example, and I want two reads of it, if I see that it’s very naked form, I haven’t got a lot to work with, but with you, for example, that’s different because I know that you’re going to build and embellish. It’s different. Some people like the beta feedback before they come to me because they want to come to me with a really complete package and then get my input. Some will come to me first and say, here’s my rough thinking. And then they might get some beta feedback after I’ve gone through it once. So I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way. I really do think it’s an author choice, it’s a relationship, it’s trusting beta readers; it’s trusting your developmental editor. Does that answer the question? I’m sorry. I can’t be more specific.
Alessandra: Yeah, I think you’re right. It completely depends on the author and their project and how rough their rough draft is or their first draft is and how many passes they can afford and how many people that they’re going to have looking at it. If it’s just one editor, you know, if you’re only doing one editor and it’s a developmental editor, you want to get it as far and polished and perfect as it can before it gets to that person. You don’t want that being the very first person who’s ever read your book.
Marion: And particularly, if we want to build like some authors might only write two or three books a year, and so they’ve got time to do that building. If you’re a formulaic writer and you just know you’re going to bash them out and make bank, you may not need all those different passes anyway. So it really is a style confidence; if you’re not confident in your topic, then yes, go to that developmental editor soon. And it depends on that relationship. Again, if you can go back and forth with a couple of versions like we do, then that’s fine. Like, it doesn’t really matter which way you do it.
Alessandra: Yeah. And I think it also helps though. If you can find an editor that you love and you can stick with them, then they can learn. You can learn each other, so I can learn, and sometimes I know. Like I’ll be writing a scene and I’ll be like, oh, Marion is going to say I need to unpack this more. But it does help because you find a rhythm. If Marion had never, ever met me before and I spent her one of my really rough first draft, she’d probably be like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to work with this author.” But she knows with me that I will get there. It just takes a lot of going. And I do want you guys to ask questions as we go, so please feel free to pop questions. We have one right now from TKAMFan . And he, or she, I’m not sure said, “Is it useful when querying agents to mention the editors who worked on it?” I don’t know. I don’t think so, unless you’re working with some ridiculously huge famous editor. I don’t think that that matters. I would mention when you’re querying agents that you have worked with an editor so that they’re aware that this is not a rough, rough draft that it has been worked on. But yeah, but I don’t think you need to mention the agents, but the editors by name. Okay, so moving onto some tips when you’re building your team. So is it important that you find an editor who works in your genre mostly?
Marion: Definitely. Definitely. I mean, I’ve been asked to work on Sci-Fi books and comics and I just don’t. I don’t work on those and I don’t read those. And unless you actually have that love of the material, I don’t think you can give as constructive feedback or helpful feedback that is going to actually build a story for the author. I mean, if I haven’t worked in a genre for a while, so if I haven’t worked in say YA or NA, I will then go back and read a couple of books in that genre to sort of get myself familiar again with the lexicon and the vernacular of the age group. Or historicals, for example, that it brings out that resource and go to the adjectives out there. So I think you do need someone that does read it because they have to love it. And they also need to know what’s current so that they can give input that’s helpful for your story as well.
Alessandra: I think that’s great advice. And Patty had a question. She said, where would you find a good editor? If you’re a new author and you’re looking for an editor, do most people find you through word of mouth or is there…?
Marion: Yeah, I mean, they do. I think authors speak to each other and I think it’s like anything, it’s like any tradesman. If you’re wanting to work with someone, you’re going to ask your friends who they work with. A lot of people approach me after they’ve read so-and-so’s book. So if they’ve read Alessandra’s book, or if anyone say, “Well, Alessandra’s books, I love her writing, and so therefore, I’d love to work with you,” which can I say is not necessarily a very logical way to connect an edited to a new author because you don’t know what step I am in the process, for example. So I think you ask, you ask friends. When I get requests that I can’t take, I’ll go onto a Facebook group that I’m part of and I’ll let them know this is what the new author is looking for. So it is word of mouth and its connections. So I think you just ask, you ask your friends who have written books. If you love a book, you can certainly look up the editor that worked on that book and they might then hopefully send you to someone else or at least give you another way to connect with people.
Alessandra: And the way you would look up to see an editor is if you look at the first few pages of that book. On the copyright page, they should list the editors that they use, so you can find the editors there. So if you do feel like there are three or four authors that you write very similarly to, tell stories in a similar manner that you do… look in the book’s first few pages and the editor should be listed there. There’s another site, the EFA. I’ve recommended that in the past and you can search for editors there. https://www.the-efa.org/hiring/
Alessandra: So great. You and I were chatting kind of about different things before this with editors, and you said something really interesting that I picked up on, which is the life experience of the editor can also come into play when they’re reading your manuscript. Can you unpack that a little bit and share what you mean by that?
Marion: Sure. I guess the best way to explain it is when I was training a new editor a couple of years ago, she was 20 and she wanted to start doing content editing. And what I felt was she didn’t have enough life experience to actually offer to the author. So I said, let’s focus on line and copy and proofreading, which is her strengths. She’d gone through university. She was ready to do that. I’m not going to toot my own horn here, but what I can tell you is, just by having, like I’m 51, I have four children, actually five since my son got married. I’ve gone through… I’m an avid sportswoman. I’m a musician. I’ve gone through lots of psychology to deal with life stuff; gone through a death of a parent. Gosh, I mean, the list is endless of what I’ve gone through, but what I feel that actually brings to the table is logic.
So for example, if someone is writing a psychiatrist appointment and the question is, “Oh, how’s your depression going?” It’s like you know; I would never actually ask that. Or you know, I’ve learnt Japanese at the university level. And so I was working on a book where she had all this Americanism into the Japanese person. I thought, no, you can’t have that. That’s not how they would speak to you. They wouldn’t look you in the face and say, no, that’s not part of their lexicon or even just living in a different country. I was recently working on a book where a character, the main character was coming to America after living in a Middle-Eastern country. And she didn’t speak any English apart from the little bits and pieces of the yes, no, simple answers to simple questions. And suddenly, she had this girl at the university level in New York university reading these massive English terms. I’m thinking “they really can’t do that.”
So just understanding English as a second language, just having lived in a different country where English is not the only language spoken or not the main language; all that kind of comes into the input that I can give. In terms of, they wouldn’t understand that, you need to go back to Basic English, or can we build to the point before they get to America? Can we build in more English into her lifestyle, into her world so that when she gets to America, it’s not such a, “Oh my goodness, she shouldn’t know that information”. So, that’s what I mean. And it’s not that you need to find someone that’s old like me. It’s more that you probably need to, I guess, know a little bit about the editor of what they’ve read or do they broaden your knowledge? Do they actually make you wiser, I guess is probably… did that answer that question?
Alessandra: It does. And I think it speaks on, it doesn’t all have to come down to just your developmental editor, if you can fill in these goals because it is going to be hard to find someone exactly. And I can’t imagine reaching out to an editor for the first time and being like, “So, you think you can talk about divorce and a miscarriage?” I can’t imagine how that would be received, but what it does mean is you need to have a well-rounded beta, well-rounded team. You can fill that in with a lot of different betas or copy editors. But what you were saying, I was just… I spent the last three minutes trying to remember because there was something you pointed out in one of my books, and I had a character who was talking on the phone while, I believe pumping gas is what I think it was.
Marion: That’s what it was.
Alessandra: Yeah, and you were like, it’s either illegal or something. And I was like, what are you talking about? Like, people talk on the phone while pumping gas and I looked it up and it is illegal or it’s illegal in certain places. And I think of all the times I’ve talked on the phone while pumping gas. There’s so many things that the more eyes that can go on your book before it goes out because there are also times I’ve said something or my characters have done something horribly offensive and I didn’t realize that. And thank goodness for my team, who, you know, caught something that I might not have known about a certain culture or about something like that, like talking on the phone while pumping gas; never, ever would have occurred to me. And I’ve had customers smoking while outside at a restaurant in California and then an editor was like, “Nope, can’t do that”. So even just from State to State, you know, or if you’re writing a book set in Alaska and you’ve never been to Alaska and you don’t realize just normal, cold weather things that people do that you wouldn’t even think twice about or be aware of. So you need to make sure that you have somebody who’s lived or is familiar with places that you’re writing also.
Marion: Well, even things like, and I know we were talking a little bit about the whole diversity of your group as well. I was working on a book a while ago where the… let me see, the driver had a tattoo on his right hand, but he was driving in England. And so, the passenger can’t see the right hand, the right finger and so I’m going, and she’s describing it in detail, this tattoo, and going, “hang on a second, she actually can’t see”. So sometimes if you are writing for example where the story is based in Germany or anywhere else; if you can build into your editing team, even if it’s just for that book, someone who is more aware of that, someone who actually has lived in Germany or speaks German fluently, or if there is a difference in the vernacular between different areas to make sure you actually do that level of checking is really important. And that might be a copy editor. It might be a developmental editor. It might be the line editor, or it might be a beta reader say, no, they would never say it like that.
So that’s when you have to have a little bit of diversity in there, and it may not be every single book you need to have those people. Sometimes you might bring in an extra person simply because you know there’s a bit of a hole there. So I guess, put the effort in. Years ago, someone said were working in 1941 and the Second World War, and so she’s talking about conscription and this person was whatever their age of 21. I was like, “Well, no conscription at that point in the States was 18.” And she wanted strawberries in November. It’s like, “Well, no, back in 21, they wouldn’t have had strawberries because there wasn’t an international trade. So it’s sort of important to fix that.”
Alessandra: I wouldn’t have thought of that.
Marion: So, I mean, it’s only because my father was in the Second World War that I knew conscription ages or that, you know, we didn’t have international trade, but it’s not that I knew of that, so I’m not really that smart. It’s just that I looked it up. And so, I guess, be prepared to think, hang on a second, what would they do with strawberries in, you know, that kind of stuff.
Alessandra: Yeah. And there’s just too many things. One person can’t do it. Yeah, you can’t know everything.
Marion: No, definitely not.
Alessandra: We do have another question, Angela March said; “How many times should the author read their work? I can’t seem to pick up mistakes after the third time reading it because my brain knows what I wanted to write,” which is so true, “any suggestions on other ways to clean up the manuscript before sending it off?” I’ll answer this, and then if I miss something or you have any other ideas. One thing that a lot of authors do is they’ll, and I don’t know how to do this, but apparently, you can have your Kindle free to you. If you can send the manuscript to your Kindle and have it read to you. I pick up so much when I hear something read aloud, what you really pick up on is word repetition. And you’re like, how did I use the word amazing three times in the paragraph? I didn’t notice, you know, or when a word is skipped because a lot of times, yeah, our brains open the gap. When a word is skipped or if you know, shirt instead of skirt is used, it really, you can hear it when it’s read aloud. So that’s one of my suggestions, but it’s painful. You know what I mean? It’s time-consuming, you have to, but that’s one of my tips. Do you have any?
Marion: I was going to say the same thing. You don’t need to necessarily even go to your Kindle. You can read it aloud yourself.
Alessandra: That’s a good way.
Marion: You know, like you can do it either way. And often, if I’m not confident in dialogue or internal thoughts when I’m working on a scene, I will actually read it out loud when I’m working on it. And that’s how I’ll catch issues as well. But I’ll read it and think, “Does that actually sound like a 40-year-old guy? Or does that sound like what they would actually say in that situation?” So reading it aloud is really helpful. I don’t think you can ever say you have to read it three times before you send it to a development editor. There’s no rule for that. But I think the essence or the thing we need to point out is you have to have time. Don’t rush your work, take the time to give the editor the time. So even if it means you put aside your baby for three or four days and then come back to it and then read it out loud, you might pick up different things, “Oh my goodness, I missed that whole section there. Or how on earth did he have three hands in that sex scene?”
Alessandra: It happens.
Marion: It does happens, I know it does happen. I’ll often go, “hang on a second,” like when I’m working on something.
Alessandra: Wait a minutes, how is he seeing her face because he is behind her?
Marion: Yeah. He’s holding it by the foot now… Like this yeah. So I think sometimes putting it aside for a couple of days is really helpful, but reading it out loud I think is absolutely crucial if you’re not sure.
Alessandra: Somebody said they had coffee with Patrick Rothfuss once, and he said he edited Name of the Wind 300 times. 300 times is a lot, but I’ve definitely edited book 13 or 14 times, you know? No problem. We did have another question. They said when you edit all three areas, if you are doing kind of developmental editor, do you do it in one pass or three or more?
Marion: That’s a really good question. So for example, the way I set up my developmental editing package is the first read I focus on is content and I look at line edits as I go. And I’m doing that a little bit less than I used to do that because I found that there’s so many corrections down the side. Sometimes it must be mind-boggling for the author when they go, Oh my goodness, look at this. So I like to focus on the content only in that first read, because I need to be able to look at the big picture stuff. I need to look at characterization. I need to look at whether this story is flowing okay. And if I’m really concentrating on line edits, then I’ll miss all that. So I have pulled back a little bit. I’ve changed the way I do things to accommodate that, but I will pick up some quick things as I’m going through, simply to get some of that little… the rubbish or the de-cluttering out of the way.
But in that second read for me when I’m going over the content again, and I’m looking at the story again, and whether everything fits and if it’s logical, if it’s credible, et cetera; that’s when I’m actually taking a really slower pass. And I’m looking at all the sentences individually, I’m looking at the words and that’s when I’ve got my thesaurus out the whole time going, you know what, you’ve used “kind of” and “sort of”, and “all of” a lot. Let’s try and trim all that out. So definitely wouldn’t do it all in the one go. I don’t think you could actually provide the author with sufficient feedback if you did that. Having said that, you could hold on to it, have a break for a couple of days and then go back in, and I think you’d be surprised how much you would find. I just don’t do it that way because our brains are too smart.
I’m a photographic memory style person, and so once I’ve seen it, once I’ve read it once or twice, I’ll just remember everything in it. I’ll just, yeah. So proofreading should always be done by a different set of eyes because they have to come fresh into the story, they have to come fresh into the book and the content, et cetera, so, yeah, I wouldn’t do it all in one go.
Alessandra: And also I delete a lot in rewrites, you know, so don’t make it perfect because I might delete that entire chapter.
Marion: Yeah, that’s right. That’s so true.
Alessandra: Margaret said, and we have to wrap up pretty shortly, but I do want to just knock on the final things that Marion has said, but Margaret did have a great question. What are your thoughts on spell-check tools other than normal spellchecker? So do you like when authors use Grammarly or something like that?
Marion: I wouldn’t know the difference to be honest, if they do or not. I can tell that some authors throw me a book and they haven’t, to me, haven’t gone over it at all. Particularly, when I know I’ve worked with that author, like 13 or 15 books, and they’re still coming out with the same errors or still the same repetition of the same word, et cetera. But I don’t know the difference. I think it’s good if you can get away a lot of the clutter, the better. The cleaner it is, the easier it needs for developmental editor to read it. So there have been times where that grammar and punctuation is so bad that I can’t actually read it. I don’t know what’s happening in the story. So I’ll send it back and say clean it up a little bit. At least, give me a dialogue marker so I know where the dialogue starts and stops sort of thing. And I actually think that’s respecting your editor and respect to her work as well. So don’t give your editors something that’s so messy that they actually can’t even read it to find the story. So yeah, I hope that answers the question.
Alessandra: Yeah, I think it does. So TKAMFan said can you talk about your cost structure? Is your cost structure on your website or?
Alessandra: Okay. All right. So anyone who’s interested in potentially using Marion – and I tout her skills from the top of the rooftops – if you visit makingmanuscripts.com, you’ll be able to see the breakdown of what she charges for different types of levels of edits and everything is by word. So when you see those costs, is that several passes or is that one pass, or how many passes are included, or is that also listed on the website?
Marion: Well, it is also listed. I’m not someone that’s going to keep charging every time I have to read a story. Like, for Alessandra, I know we’ve often done four or five stories; that doesn’t worry me at all because to me, that’s my job is to make sure that your work is where you want it to be and that you have confidence in your work. So with the developmental editing, I always have two passes. Sometimes when I do content only, some authors just want one look, others want me to go back and have a look at it. So I will go with what the author wants mostly, unless it’d say six months down the track and they’re bringing it back to me and they want me to have another look. Then when contents changed so much, that’s a different rate, but look, and every editor is going to be different. I guess I’ve always wanted to make sure editing is affordable and that I’m approachable. And so, I probably don’t… often I’m told I undercharged, but you know, that’s the way it is.
Alessandra: That’s the way it is. Is there anything you want to say before we sign off? Is there anything we missed on your notes that you want to be sure that they’re aware of?
Alessandra: I will say while she glances at the notes, I think that really key takeaway is that oftentimes, you do really need a team. Not oftentimes. You DO need a team, whether that team… it could be mostly volunteers, beta readers, you can find beta readers a lot of times. A lot of times you can find an English teacher or someone like that that will proofread. But it is important when you receive feedback. I’ll say this, with my first book, you know, early on, the only people reading it were maybe my friend or my mother. And if that person doesn’t read in your genre, a lot of times you’d need to kind of throw away all of their feedback. You really need readers who read in your genre because they could hate it and it can be the best thing that’s ever hit that genre, you know, in a hundred years or they could love it and they love you and so they’re telling you how amazing it is, but they’re reading it kind of through those rose glasses. So it is important to find honest beta readers who read in your genre. And a lot of times they can point out the problem, but they can’t always point out the solution. And that’s a lot of times where a developmental editor or somebody with training can do a better job.
Marion: I think that’s right. And I think that is the key. It’s not just going to your best friend to read your book. It really is finding people who you trust. If you have a beta reader on one book and you really don’t like that feedback, stop and analyze why. If it’s just an ego thing that you’re thinking, “Oh, I wrote this, it should be great,” then that’s not really helpful. But if you can stop and look at it going, “Is that constructive? Is that helpful? Is that in line with where I want the book to go?” I think you’ve got to show off your ego a little bit and try and think is this good feedback? If it’s not, don’t use that beta reader again, that’s fine. And sometimes building a different beta reader, as we said before, if you think there’s something missing, but definitely build your team. I’m very pro multi-step editing.
Marion: I do think that you need to be thoughtful in how you build your team and ask other people if you’re not sure how to build that team. I don’t often take on new authors, so I apologize in advance if that’s what you’re looking for. But I do think that if you have an editing team and you’re going, “I need to build in more”. Don’t just jump ship, try and work out what the missing link is before you go, “I’ve got to get a whole new team.” You probably don’t. You might just need a different person in step two or a different… an extra reader at certain point. So I guess, think through all your options, don’t just jump ship, but do take your time for editing. Don’t just think it’s something you can quickly skim through, but take the time and also give your editor time to do their work. Don’t quickly ask for the turnaround time, unless you have to get it to the next person, but always give them time; that’s probably the thing I want to say as well.
Alessandra: Yeah. And I would ask them what the timeframe is versus dictating them. Or if you do have kind of what… I mean, if you do have a timeframe; I would say, this is my timeframe, is that feasible? Or, you know, do I need to reevaluate it or look for someone who maybe has quicker availability?
Marion: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, that’s fine.
Alessandra: But I’ll be remiss before… first of all, thank you so much, Marion, for all of that.
Marion: Thank you for having me.
Alessandra: Thank you for everyone who joined in. I would be remiss, while we’re talking about editing if I didn’t mention Marlow. So if you guys listening have not met Marlow yet; she is an artificial intelligence developmental editor. So when we’re talking about Grammarly or different tools, or if you’re wanting, you know, she falls in that line. She is an artificial editor, but she’s so much more than those other tools because she can actually read your book and understand its plot and your characters and moments in your book when intensity ramps up or when the reader is reading the pages more slowly. So if you visit authors.ai, you can try for out for free. We do have free reports that you can run on your manuscript. And it’s almost instant. It’s within a couple of minutes. And if you want to try her PRO-report, that’s a really great first look; before it hits a developmental editor, you can really get a great look at your work from an unbiased editor who loves all genres. So that’s Marlow, I hope you guys check her out. And as always, thank you for joining us on First Draft Friday. If you’re watching on YouTube or listening to the podcast, please subscribe. And we will see you guys in two weeks with another First Draft Friday. So, thank you so much, everybody have a great weekend.