How I found my Editor

I have gotten a lot of feedback and questions about how to find the right editor. Although I do believe this process is going to look different for everyone, there are a few things you'll need to take into consideration. 

First: where to find editors. There are so many resources online to hire a freelance editor. Below are just a few options, but remember, the more active you are in the writing community, the more opportunity you will find to network and meet up with writers, critique partners and editors.

Although networking is so important, there may come a time when you want to work with someone who brings something more to the table. For me, I live in a larger city, but find connecting with like-minded, motivated and higher vibrating individuals, is challenging. I have found that they are either writing in completely different genres, have very different ideas of success than I do, or just aren't a fit personally for me. None of these make them less, bad or inadequate, it just isn't the fit I might be looking for. I wanted to work with someone that was actively in the publishing industry as either a writer or editor, and was very current on trends, wants, needs and expectations from large publishing firms and agents alike. 

So let's start with a few websites to begin your search:

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  • upwork.com
  • freelancer.com
  • reedsy.com
  • fiverr.com
  • thecreativepenn.com
  • writeplanediting.com
  • poolepublishing.com

I chose to use Upwork. I've used Upwork in the past to hire freelancers for my "day job" and had great success with the site, the response and the level of talent available. I created a post about my needs, being very specific, raw and transparent about my requirements, my expectations and my work in progress. 

I received quite a few responses, most were very clinical in their approach. I found them to be fairly dry, listing their experience chronologically; focusing more on their achievements and why they were the right person to work with me, rather than focusing on my needs and the struggles I was having with my manuscript. The editor I ultimately hired was more casual in her approach, while remaining helpful and professional. Not only did she address all of my concerns, fears and doubt in my work, she offered up free advise for how I could address some of the shortcomings of my book. She was helpful and relatable from the first message she sent. 

Fit should be your number one criteria when looking for an editor. You should be looking for someone that you are comfortable with, who is easy to communicate with, and who understands what you need of them. This is going to be different for everyone. I needed someone who was going to give it to me straight, but who would understand that I needed to hear that feedback in a constructive and motivating way. I wouldn't have responded well to someone who condescended, criticized or made me feel as though I were inexperienced in writing. This might not be what you need. Find someone that fits your personality and style. 

Second, you want to make sure that your editor understands your genre, your style, and your goals. If you are hoping to produce a self published book, more for yourself than anything, and are content to hold them on consignment in a few small bookstores in your home town, you won't want an executive level editor that works exclusively with a top 5 publishing house. In the same way, if your dream to write the next Harry Potter series, you wouldn't hire a hobby writer to edit your work, someone that has never published a book, and reads/ writes technical tutorials for the local machining shop - they might not be the right person either. 

And lastly, don't be afraid to ask for samples of their edited work. Most editors are happy to provide you with examples, so that you can see if their style matches what you are looking for. 

Ultimately, finding the right editor is a very personal process. It can take you to the next level with your WIP, or it can discourage you from ever putting yourself out there again. Take your time selecting someone that compliments you and your WIP.

Good Guys are good, and Bad Guys are Bad... right?

You would think writing your hero and your villain would be easy right? The good guy - your hero - is good. All his traits are positive. He is selfless, patient, courageous, and honest, and the bad guy is, well, bad. He is arrogant, vain, stubborn and unpredictable. This is what makes a good story, isn't it?

It's important to remember that your characters need to be balanced in their own right. Yes, ok, your villain's over-confident, obsessive behaviour towards winning the national spelling bee balances out your hero's boyish good looks and rockstar-at-everything-he-does, easy progression to take the trophy; but who wants to read a story about a character that can't do wrong. How boring is that? In the same way, how believable is it that your villain is pure evil from the very soul of his being - that he doesn't have one redeemable trait, not a single one? 

It doesn't.

So how do we make our hero and our villain more well-rounded? Well, we give them traits that would seem counterintuitive to the role they play. But how do we do this?

The first step is to get a very clear idea about your character. Go ahead and pick a character, whether that's your protagonist, your antagonist, a supporting character, or the little old lady that lives four doors down. Once you have that character selected, I want you to write down all of their traits. Are they bold? Adaptable? Empathetic? Confident? Socially awkward? Selfish? Patient? etc. Go ahead and make that list - It's ok, I'll wait. 

Got your list ready? Ok, let's get started!

So now that you know everything that your character is, let's talk about what your character isn't. 

Select one of those traits. Any trait at random. Got it? No skipping ahead.... 

Now take that trait and think of the exact opposite trait. Is he courteous? Make him rude. Is she completely disorganized? Make her organized, a real type A. Does he constantly come out with the most witty comments? Make him stumble over his words, really unapt with conversation. 

Take that new trait, and write a scene with your selected character where they demonstrate this trait. Go ahead, take it for a test drive, just once around the block to get a feel for it. Is this a new trait that you can flip to make your character a little more believable? 

With these changes, your characters are going to feel more genuine to your reader.

So often we give our characters traits to prove to the reader that they can take on the tasks we are going to set out for them, that they are amply prepared for those trials, but in reality, we are only hindering them. If you can assign a counterintuitive trait to a character, that ultimately makes  achieving their goal harder, you are deepening your plot, and your character development. If you take a cowering introvert, and plop them down, completely unprepared, in the middle of a political rally, and force them in front of millions of people, standing at a microphone, I can promise you, any speech they may give is going to be abundantly more meaningful, rather than that of a charismatic, diplomatic extrovert. 

Try this for every character that has a leading role in your book. Your hero, your sidekick, and especially your villain. Make him likeable in the most terrifying ways. I promise you, the results will surprise, satisfy and inspire you!

Step one - Run away from the big scary reality!

Welcome back!

Remember when I said I was going to post about my process with my writing coach? Are you ready? I really want you all to take this journey along with me.  

So, starting now, I'm going to create a "journal" in essence, to share my process. It will be random posts, hopefully in between helpful content, to bring you along with me. Shall we just dive in?

Today is my first real chat with my writing coach to discuss my developmental edits. My manuscript was sent on Friday, and by Sunday, my coach had already sent it back. I was waiting to open the email to a message that said "listen, this was an ok first draft, but I don't want to waste your money, or my time, to do a developmental edit when you just aren't there yet... let's discuss". I was shocked to see a full edit attached to the email and such powerful, uplifting comments about my work - In the email anyways. 

So the nature of an editor is to find the problems with your writing. That's why you hire them after all. I think I opened, closed, and digested what she sent at least 15 times. The paragraphs of explanation in the email took one full read through, then I put my phone away and had to breathe, assess, react, and then re-read it all to make sure I wasn't over-reacting. Then I opened the overview file. When editing, she completed both manuscript content notes, and then also a separate document that summarized the areas that I need to be prepared to work on. 

I got through the first paragraph of the overview document, closed it, and had a minor self-bashing, I'm not good enough, this was a waste of time, I can't do this moment. Then I re-opened that document and read the breakdown of main focus areas. Closed it again, and thought, nope, I will have to come back to this when I can concentrate. I can't concentrate now, I'm not ready for this. About an hour later I re-opened the document and read the details under the few headings I knew needed work (writing style and pace). She just confirmed my own doubts about my pace (basically that I have rushed a few scenes that need a little more love). But the writing style was a big shock. I was expecting to read that there was no style. That my voice was flat-lining, that my style was bland, that I was, unfortunately not cut out for any of this - Amazing how we naturally beat the hell out of ourselves! Instead she was in love with my dialogue (I have never considered myself good at dialogue) and the entire manuscript was very well written. She commented that, at this place in the process, I am further along than most of her clients. - Hooray!!

It still took me until the next day to get the courage up to read the development edits on my actual manuscript, and still, I would get a chapter's worth of notes read, before I would close the document.

Self doubt, fear, and defeat were a tangible thing.

After half a day of looking at the email, and being too scared to open it, I made a cup of coffee, curled up in bed, and got comfortable. I was going to get through it all, and if at the end of it, I was convinced I really wasn't cut out for this, well, better to know now, rather than finding out after months down the road. 

I have to tell you... after the first few chapters, the comments were few and far between. Most of them relating back to characterization, which I already knew needed some work with my MC, but otherwise, it wasn't as big a pill to swallow, as I had made it out to be! 

Today is our first real call. Today we are going to go over the edits, and hopefully by the end of our call, I will be ready to dive back in. I'm feeling confident, positive, and still fractionally overwhelmed with the work ahead of me. I am excited to finally be over this first step, and moving in the right direction. 

 

Sometime you just need to do a hard reset!

Good afternoon, and Happy Sunday everyone!

I am bright eyed and bushy tailed this wonderful Sunday, with enough motivation and inspiration to choke a horse! (that was a really bad example of how pumped I am... I would never choke a horse.. nor do I understand that statement... do horses have really wide throats? Is it hard to choke one? Or does that mean to actually wrap your arms around one and try to choke it physically... because that I think I could understand... but again, why would you want to choke a horse?) 

I digress. 

I had an amazing time away with my husband in the mountains this weekend. We stayed at a resort, smack dab in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, where there was no cell reception, no wifi, no tv, no nothing. It was the two of us, a crackling fireplace and a frozen lake that spread out in all directions with nothing to stop it, but the towering mountains. Everything was snow covered, wintery and beautiful. It was amazing to be so far away from everything, to be disconnected, to be somewhere without the buzz of computers and the squawking of phones, the obnoxious "too-loud" chatters that think their conversation is the most important thing in the world, and to be able to focus on what is here, and now, and, of course, to celebrate four amazing years with my loving husband. 

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It's so hard to take time for ourselves, have you ever noticed that? To really take time for ourselves. In the chaos of day to day life, in the hustle of trying to get ahead, in the "girl boss" gotta-get-it-done world we create, it's hard to take a moment to just... be. 

It's important to take time for you. To take a few moments every day to just be. It's important to take a day every once in a while to disconnect, and to find you. To focus on what's important and to alleviate every last expectation from your world. That doesn't mean neglect things, but remove expectation. It will be there when you plug back in, but set aside a block of time to release it all, know that everything that needs to be done, will be, and recognize what is good, positive, and intentionally live in that moment. 

 

I've Decided...

I'm stuck. I hate being stuck. I hate knowing that I know exactly where I want to go, but have no idea how to get there... precisely zero ideas. 

What am I stuck at?

Revisions... Revisions Suck!

I think that's going to be my motto for 2018. Revisions Suck! 

Two books. I have two books completely finished.. well the first draft anyways. But now what? 

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As a self-taught self-starter, I have basically educated myself about this whole "author" life. I have researched, and attended the writing events, and dove in head first to learn my lessons as I go... I have learned what is good, bad, and horribly wrong about my process. I learned about the ups and downs of emotions when writing (only to confirm through Youtube that those mood swings not a downward spiral into insanity or a complete mental breakdown, but normal for writers! It comes with the territory.) I've relied on myself to get this far, and now I'm stuck. 

My dilemma? I know what aspects of both books need to change. I have revised my outlines, strengthened them, improved them, found the plot holes, noted the characters that were under developed, highlighted the cliches and tropes. Yet I stare at my screen unable to figure out just how to do it. Do I re-write the whole line/ paragraph/ page/ chapter? What do I keep? What do I get rid of completely? Do I change point of view? Do I alter my characters gender? Maybe I just need to kill someone! (whoa whoa.. I mean a character... let's not get too carried away here!)

I have been sitting on my hands since January, too scared to do much, over thinking, rehashing, and stressing myself out. So now what?

I have finally decided to seek help... Yes, professional. No, not what you're thinking! I've hired a writing coach. 

This was a big step for me. One that I wasn't entirely sure I was ready for, that my book was ready for, or that I was willing to accept defeat. In my mind it was defeat knowing that I was going to allow someone else into the inner workings of my novel this early on. But I've done it!

I hired her through Upwork, an online freelance website. I was expecting all the writing coaches to price themselves out of my comfort zone, but was pleasantly surprised to find really talented and highly versatile writer, editors and coaches available at incredibly decent prices. I have just over a week before I send in my WIP for a developmental edit with her, and then we can begin hashing out my changes, my revisions and the direction I want the book to go. 

I guess what I am trying to say is: Moral of the story, When you are stuck, you are the only one in your way. There is always someone going through something similar. Someone who has experience in this, and someone who you can reach out to for help. In my case, I am paying for that help, but this is a step in my process that has hindered my results for far too long. I have made excuses, I have been stubborn, and I've thought I could do it all myself... but sometimes, it just makes sense to seek help. 

I will be posting about my experience and process with my new coach, as we get to know one another and start this process with my WIP. I will also do a follow up with how to find the right help using a resource such as Upwork, or other freelance websites, what to look for, and what to watch out for, so stay tuned for that.