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Editing Etiquette

Today, I’m super excited to have Ginger & Books’ first guest post, by Jami Montgomery. Jami just happens to be the Editor for The Assassin.
Writing and editing go hand-in-hand. If you’re a writer of any kind, whether you’re a blogger, a novel writer, or even a songwriter, chances are you’ve had to deal with editing. But not everyone understands that the abilities to “Self-edit,” as well playing nice with your editor are essential to the writing industry.

Editing Etiquette

Self-editing is the process of reading through your own work and fixing as much as you can. Wrong word choices, spelling errors, and run-on sentences should all be focused on during this stage of the writing process. There are plenty of tools out there to help with word choice and spelling: google, autocorrect, dictionaries, and your writing software of choice all offer definitions and spell check. There’s really no excuse for misspelled words once your writing makes its way to the editor.

Now, I know for some people, self-editing is a challenge (Like Laura). That’s why, when I edit for someone, I try to give tricks and tips to make self-editing easier. For instance, reading your book aloud to yourself will help fix flow, make dialogue sound more natural, and help you find run-on sentences. Reading aloud to someone else can help, too, but sometimes writers are too nervous about their own work to do that, and that’s perfectly okay! The most important thing is to make the book as good as you can get it on your own before you send it off to an editor. It will save you (and the editor) a lot of headaches.

The second ability that comes in handy, playing nice with your editor, is sometimes more difficult than self-editing. Mainly because a lot of writers believe they don’t actually need any help. In the past couple of weeks, I have come across several people who ask for my help, then throw all of my suggestions back in my face. That’s a big no-no when someone is trying to help you. Especially when someone is taking time away from their writing and their family to help you for free.

Sometimes, editors and authors butt heads. Some simple Editing Etiquette on both sides can make it better. Click To Tweet

Remember this, writers: If someone is taking time out of their busy life to help you out, just say thank you if you don’t agree with what they’re saying. Don’t insult them (this happened to me three times in a week), tell them you’re going to consult a real professional (twice in the same week) and that you don’t edit because you don’t think it’s important (yes, someone actually told me this).

For one thing, I am a professional editor. I do all of my own editing for the books I self-publish, and I edit for friends who self-publish as well. While I may miss one or two things occasionally, as is to be expected when you read a novel so many times that you practically have it memorized, I don’t appreciate it when people assume that just because I’m not an international bestseller, or just because I don’t hold a creative writing degree, that my work isn’t “on par” with what they’re wanting.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like these days, people just want to hear “Your work is perfect! It needs no work!” They ask for editing help, but they don’t actually want you to do any editing. And I don’t understand that. The best reviews, and the best critiques, are the ones that give helpful advice on how to make your story better. Especially if you’re just starting out on a writing website like Wattpad or Inkitt and you don’t have a lot of practice under your belt. Thinking back to my inkpop days, I was always ecstatic when I got a review that taught me new comma rules or gave me better word choices. Nowadays, everyone wants to be the next big bestseller, but they don’t want to do the work to get there.

What I’m trying to say is that editing is important. I edited for our dear friend Laura here, and while our edits didn’t always match up, we always worked out a way that made us both happy with the style. We were very civil about it. No name calling, no throwing “I’m going to ask a real professional” in either of our faces. And that’s the way editing a book with someone should be. There should be a sense of comradery there, an understanding that both of you just want the book to be the best that it can be.

Which doesn’t mean writing a first draft and considering yourself finished. I feel sorry for the people who missed out on inkpop. It was a great community filled with people who wanted to succeed but who also wanted to help you succeed. It was a family that grew together, finding our styles and reading into the late night hours to help out friends. Wattpad, Inkitt, even WriteOn, are all missing that vibe, for the most part. (Of course there are exceptions) I’m so thankful that I still have my Inkiesaround to help me continue to grow in my craft and to encourage me to keep going.

Jami MontgomeryJami Montgomery is a twenty-something writer from small town South Texas. She writes in a wide range of genres, including sci-fi, historical fantasy, supernatural, and, most recently, contemporary. She has two published works: Knight’s End, a NA historical romance, released in 2012, and Otherworldly, an upper YA supernatural ghost story, released in 2013. In her free time, Jami loves making cupcakes, playing with her dogs, reading, and beating her fiancé at video games. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. 

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