Friday, June 5, 2015

Trying to be perfect

Katherine Pickett recently spoke on"Editor’s, Who They are, What They Do and How they Can Help You" at the Carroll County Chapter of the Maryland Writers' Association. She also discussed how writers can make it easier for their editors and help smooth the road to publication.

Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services, so she knows what she is talking about when she talks about editing. She also is the author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, published in 2014.

Her keys to success: educate yourself, be flexible and work only with people you trust. Everyone needs an editor, Katherine said. But a well prepared manuscript can save you time and money. She shared lots of information about what to look for when searching for an editor, such as rates, time factors and their track record. You also need to feel comfortable with them.

I enjoyed hearing about self-editing, since I am at that stage now with my YA novel. It seems I can go over it again and again and still find minor errors. To a writer, although there are different levels of problems, but no error is minor. Even after all this rereading, I was still dissatisfied. I was looking for more ideas about how to edit my work and Katherine delivered.
Katherine Pickett talks with Kerry Peresta,
 President of Carroll County Chapter MWA

She stressed that self-editing can save money and time. First take some time off, create some distance from your work. Then as you approach it again try different methods. Read it aloud and pay attention to places where you pause. Look for punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors.

Change to a larger font. It’s easier to find punctuation errors. Print your work and read it on hard copy. Run your fingers under the words as you read. Then go deeper.

Move to a new location while you review your work or try a different time of the day. Check facts, the timeline, characters and consistency. Is the tone consistent? Everything has to be in there for a reason.

Some people even edit it backwards, starting at the end and moving back to the beginning.  Approach your writing from different angles. Think of your audience. Are you speaking to your ideal reader.
Too often we see what we expect to see, not what is actually there. Question motives. Then again, question everything. The idea is to trick your brain. See what is actually there and how you might be able to make it better.

Revise, revise, revise!

Katherine explained that there are developmental and substantive editors. A substantive editor ensures appropriate and consistent tone and smooth transitions, checks for consistency in point-of-view, eliminates ambiguity, and ensures that dialog sounds natural.

More editing follows as a book is prepared for publication. A proofreader goes through a book's layout and tries to catch anything the copy-editor missed. After receiving a manuscript proof, the author should evaluate the editing, answer any queries as completely as possible, make necessary changes and return the manuscript on time.

The better you have prepared your manuscript, the less time editors will need to spend on it and the less it will cost you. The better your manuscript, the more chance it has of publication and becoming popular.

Pickett’s company provides copy-editing, proofreading, and developmental editing to authors and publishers across the country. She has been involved in the publishing industry since 1999, including five years as an in-house production editor with McGraw-Hill Professional and two years with Elsevier Inc. Although the majority of her experience lies in nonfiction trade books, she also has edited children’s, young adult, and adult fiction, memoirs and more.

Her book Perfect Bound was a silver award winner, 2015, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards and a Finalist, 2014 Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

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