Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To Answer your question...

Every Tuesday will be dedicated to answering some of the GREAT questions you all have asked!

Today's question is: What is your opinion on hiring a professional editor to edit my manuscript before sending it in to a publisher?

And today's answer will be given by Nikki Arana! Take it away Nikki...

The biggest reason that new writers receive rejections is because they send out their ms (manuscript) before it is ready. So many unpubbed writers think when they finish their first ms, they've finished a book. In almost all cases, they've finished a first draft. If it has been written with the guidance of a critique group of other unpublished authors, it's probably a good first draft, if it was written without any mentoring, it's probably a detailed outline. That's what the first draft of my first book was . . . the agent I sent it to is the one who told me. (grimaces)

The first step toward publication is to learn how to write a book. This takes time unless you hire a professional. There are professional editors, Sometimes called developmental editors, who can do that. But it is VERY expensive, around $75 an hour. They work with you step by step as you write. Like going to college and you're the only one in class. You end up with a book that only needs polishing. You always think of improvements after the first time through. But by then you are knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions on your own.You only get one chance to make a first impression with an editor or agent.

The concern about somehow the writing is not your own if you use an editor I find no basis for. I've never had any editor change a word of my writing that changed my voice. The concern that you can't deliver that quality of writing after you get the contract isn't true either. I'm writing my fifth book and still use the same professional structure editor I did on my first book. I still occasionally have payoffs without setups, have the hero do unheroic things, and have something in the story that doesn't make it to the page. But now, those things seldom happen, so it takes the editor less time and has become much more affordable. I consider the money I spend as my college tuition. Most editors accept payments.

After you know as much as your unpublished critique partners, professional editing is the next step toward publication. Yes, there are always those stories of a newbie sending out an ms and selling it. But out of the hundreds, even thousands of writers who submit mss, that happens very rarely. It is getting harder and harder to break into print. If difficult finances prevent you from using an editor, then try and find a pubbed author to guide you. They can be just as valuable, but often can't give the time needed. There are also conferences, workshops, and classes. It will just take a little longer going that route.

Pray with all your heart and work with all your might. Give your God-given call and God-given talent every opportunity to prosper.

Nikki Arana

2007 Excellence in Media Silver Angel AwardAmerican Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year - Women's FictionWinner of The Beacon Award
Jessie Cameron Alison Writer of the Year Award
Conference Speaker - Workshops


Christine H. said...

This was an excellent article, but it certainly does seem discouraging for those of us with limited financial resources.

Tricia Goyer said...

To share my personal experience, I've never had a professional editor edit my work before submission, but I have had other writers (friends) read my stuff for me.

Also, I've found writing books VERY useful. I've read them, studied them, and have put their advice to the test.

It is a slower route, but it's paid off for me. And it's FAR less expensive. In fact, I've found my local library in rural Montana has MANY books on writing.

Christine H. said...

Thanks, Tricia. I had saved the money for a writing course this winter, but had to use it to pay the bills instead. I'm just glad God provided what we needed at the right moment. And I think this blog is incredibly helpful for me.

I have another question for your experts:
My mom attended a CWG conference a couple of years ago and loaned me the tapes. One of the speakers told the group emphatically that you should NEVER write a full manuscript until you've sold the proposal, as it is equivalent to "working for free." However, since then I've heard the opposite from a couple of other sources; that publishers won't buy a proposal from an upubbed author, only a completed manuscript. Which is correct?

Christine H. said...

Here's another question for the group, a philosophical one:

What is the goal of writing? Is it publication? Or do you think you could truly feel satisfied with your efforts even if you never get into print?

Jen's Journey said...

I feel truly satisfied in just writing, though I would not mind if a publisher picked up a manuscript and thought it was worth their time and/or expense to put my book on the shelves.

Perhaps, those of us with limited finances might help each other as we have found common ground in the hints of this site. I almost feel we have developed a small circle of new friends.

E Bussey said...

Christine asked: What is the goal of writing? Is it publication?

Interesting you asked because I have been pondering this myself. I enjoy writing and use to consider how nice it would be to make money doing it, but somewhere along the line that changed.

I've been through some hard times and God has been my Rock. I've been prideful and humbled, angry and loved in spite of myself and I am a daily work in progress.

Financially we could use the income from writing, but my main desire at this point in life is for others to know the incredible love and forgiveness that God has to offer - to fully realize the abundant life that is available to us through living in His presence.

Interestingly enough, writing my thoughts and rantings comes easy, but putting it into a format that will reach hearts is a challenge that I am still trying to conquer.

So I guess my goal is publication, but my desire is to encourage others with the good news and if financial reward comes it would be completely appreciated!

Christine H. said...

I guess I'm thinking of it this way... if an artist paints a picture and no one sees it, is it art? Does the call that God has laid on us to write, implicitly mean writing for publication?

I can see it both ways. On the one hand, our work won't have any impact for God if no one else reads it, but on the other hand, God sees all that we do and appreciates our faithfulness. One of my friends, who is a pastor, said that doing anything God has given you the talent for pleases Him, just by the act of doing it.

E Bussey said...

Absolutely agree Christine! God is pleased when we use our talents and I believe there are some who may never be published and yet have a huge impact on lives for Christ. Letters of encouragement, sharing scripture in notes with friends, journals we write, family histories and chronicles. All of these can touch others.

The other side of the coin is that if God is nudging a writer towards publication or submitting and we continue to ignore Him, then we are being disobedient. I'm guilty of this! I know I drag my feet sometimes when it comes to polishing and submitting my writing. I'm pretty sure it is out of fear, but I haven't figured out of what yet.

I trust God, I know He is in control. In all honesty I don't think it is rejection I'm so afraid of. I think it is the possibility that God is asking me to give "completely" of my time and efforts. I want to give fully to Him, but deep down I'm also feeling a bit selfish about my time.

Tricia Goyer said...

I write for pay. I also write for free. When I first started writing, most of it was for free, but it was awesome to see my words reaching people.

I think that God has a unique role for each of us. There isn't one right answer. There is a lady from my church who writes cards, letters, and prayers and send them out weekly. God chose that for her. I have another friend who lives near me whose one book has sold more than all my combined. That's God's path for her. It's my job (our job) to just focus on Jesus and follow His lead.

Christine H said...

In all honesty I don't think it is rejection I'm so afraid of. I think it is the possibility that God is asking me to give "completely" of my time and efforts. I want to give fully to Him, but deep down I'm also feeling a bit selfish about my time.

I can totally relate to this! I'm not that great at time management to begin with, so when I concentrate on one thing everything else starts to slide. It's really difficult to be faithful to all my roles as a wife, mother, writer and friend.

lollipops said...

Great article, and great advice from Tricia and the other bloggers. Thanks for sharing your expertise. I'm another who can't afford a professional editor...so I'm taking the slow road.