Those of you who know me, know that I am a big fan of The Story Grid podcast with Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl. I like to listen to them in the car because I feel like I'm doing something productive with my commute time. I soak up every word Shawn says as he doles out sagely advice to novice writer Tim and I feel all of Tim's pain and frustration along with him.
One of the points that Shawn likes to drive home is how important it is to know your genre. He even named his company Genre Management, Inc. The man is that serious about it. He preaches frequently about knowing your genre and all of its conventions so I did my homework. At least I thought I did. I thought that I was writing a humorous memoir. People kept comparing me to Erma Bombeck so I read up on some of her stuff.
Imagine my surprise when my Editor came back and said the following:
This is a fun, engaging self-help style book. It’s humorous and the writing voice and style work well for it. I greatly enjoyed reading it.
When I first read this, I am ashamed to admit that I was scratching my head. Did she Just say self help?
How did I write a self help book and not know it? It was hard news to swallow at first, but I paid for Katie's advice and I decided I was going to use it and I'm so glad that I did. The manuscript turned into so much more under Katie's direction. Also, for the first time in my life I got to write, "The end" on something longer than a short story.
Here is the most important piece of advice that I can give you. Don't wait until you are 100% done to start looking for advice. You can spend years tinkering away on something and adding the occasional spit and polish and still not know if what you are doing is any good. Puppy Love was not near complete when I sent it to Katie. I was still fuzzy even on how to end the thing. It wasn't even complete.
By hiring Katie, I not only got great advice from a professional, I also got the push of a deadline hanging over my head. Editors have a schedule. You pay a deposit to hold your spot in that schedule. That means you have to have it ready to go when the time comes.
I have always done my best work with a deadline looming. My best papers in college were written the night before the paper was due. Having that deadline forces you to finish and you are so focused on it, you finally ignore the voice in your head that says your writing complete crap. There's also something to be said for the subtle change that takes place in your mind. Hiring an editor makes you feel like a professional, so you sit your butt in the chair and work like one.
In closing, I totally advise hiring an editor if you take your writing future seriously. It has been an amazing experience for me. Do your homework first and choose an editor that meets your needs and be sure that you know what kind of editing you are looking for. There are different kinds and levels of editing. I got Katie's name off of Joanna Penn's website at thecreativepenn.com.
If you are interested in giving my editor a try, her name is Katie McCoach. Her website is katiemccoach.com. She is a freelance editor based in Los Angeles.
I hope that you found this helpful. Don't forget to sign up for the drawing I'm having at the end of March for a free copy of "You are a Badass" by Jen Sincero. It's an awesome read and I think you'll love it. Happy writing!