The Importance of Being Edited - Guest Post from Author Alan Seeger

The Importance of Being Edited

I've been a voracious reader for decades, pretty much from the time I could read. My parents used to tell me about how we were driving down the street one day when I was very small. I looked up at a sign we were passing, and asked, "B-O-W-L-I-N-G... does that say 'bowling'?

I'm not sure how apocryphal that story is, but I do know that I have loved to read ever since the days when I could only handle "The Poky Little Puppy." By the time I was 11, I had read Heinlein's "Red Planet" and "Have Space Suit, Will Travel," among others; shortly thereafter, I tried to read J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," although I confess that I didn't succeed in making my way through it until I was about 17. That is also about the time that I read Stephen King's "The Stand," which continues to be one of my very favorite books of all time. I always have to have something to read in my idle time -- if I don't have my Kindle or a book or magazine, I'll read whatever I can get my hands on; women's magazines, cereal boxes... you get the picture.

Along with loving to read, it wasn't very long before I began trying to write as well. I can remember filling spiral notebooks with scribbled stories when I was about nine. Despite that, it was rare that anyone got to read any of my fiction until I published PINBALL in January 2013.

My experience as senior editor of a weekly online newspaper from 2005-2009 made me realize that this sort of work was not only something I loved to do, but it was something at which I was excellent. When I got my first Kindle in 2010 and began reading independently published books, I realized that while there are a lot of excellent indie books on the market, there are also a lot that should never have been published in the first place. In between, there are those that have good plots, great characters and everything else that a good book needs, but there's a certain something lacking. Perhaps the author isn't good at punctuation, or maybe spelling is her weak point. One author may not know how to write realistic sounding dialogue, and another may be long winded and overly detailed in his narrative or simply have poor or clumsy sentence construction.

Whatever the problem, I realized that I could help.

I began reaching out to the authors of different books that I had read and enjoyed, and eventually one of them hired me to re-edit his book. When I was done, his reaction was very positive and I went on to edit several more for that same author. Since then, I have done the same for several others.

So as an independent author, why should you hire a professional editor?

It's important, first of all, to let someone else lay their eyes on your manuscript. After you've labored over the love child that is your book -- especially if it's your FIRST book -- for perhaps hundreds of hours, it's easy to get to a point where you no longer see the issues that are present in your manuscript. I call it reaching your mental saturation point. Letting someone else read your book allows a fresh perspective that will often reveal problems such as as doubled words (you see what I did there?).

So why pay someone to do this job? Well, I believe that not just anyone can or should be editing your book. You need to seek out someone with a bit of a track record. For example, in the year since I published my own first book, I have done a dozen proof-and-edit jobs for others in addition to heading up a horror short story anthology project, "13 Bites," that was published shortly before Halloween 2013. All have been well received; so far as I know, all my clients are happy ones.

So what should you look for? First of all, find someone who understands proper sentence construction, but also has an ear for how real people speak. Both are important. Typically, your narrative will contain "proper" English, while your character dialogue may or may not, depending on who your characters are and their station in society. If the person is a Wall Street executive, he may speak in complete, well constructed sentences. If he is from a small town in the "hollers" of Appalachia, he may not even know what a sentence IS. "Whut's a sin tints?" he may ask, "Is that like when ye turn all brown from bein' out in th' sun?"

No matter what you decide about your dialogue, punctuation is still vitally important. Do you use an ellipsis or a semicolon, and when is each one appropriate? When do you separate clauses with commas? These and many other punctuation issues are a major problem for many authors, and I love fixing them like a zombie loves brains.

Find an editor that understands what kind of book you are writing and how to work with you to make it exactly what you're shooting for; trust me, when the project is finished, you will be as happy as one human being can be with his clothes on.

Meet Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger was born in San Francisco, California, in 1959 to two transplants from Missouri. He grew up in Denver and Oklahoma City, and spent ten years in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. He now lives on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where he has been since 2007.

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The Importance of Being Edited - Guest Post from Author Alan Seeger The Importance of Being Edited - Guest Post from Author Alan Seeger Reviewed by Joshua Cook on 10:30 AM Rating: 5

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