If you’re selling a car, you are likely to wash it, clear all the junk out of the boot, and wipe down the dashboard, even vacuum under the seats, to ensure you’re going to get a good price for it. If you are selling a house, then you’ll likely fix those irritating little dripping taps and squeaky floorboards, paint the spare room, and maybe replace the curtains in a couple of rooms, right?
Why do you do this? It’s not only because you want to present your car or house in it’s the best light, but because you know those things need doing. You do the repairs and tidy up in order to make a bit more money and ensure a quick sale. When it comes to getting your manuscript ready for an editor to work on, you need to think like you’re selling your house or car. The things you know are there that need fixing and can be taken care of by you, will translate into two things:
- A lower fee charged by your editor for him or her not having to take care of the obvious tasks.
- A little more respect from your editor for your having taken the time and made the effort to present your manuscript as ready as possible for them to work their magic.
Why are these both so important?
If you check with your editor and/or publisher before the professional editing phase about things like use of ‘or ‘ to show dialogue, UK vs US English, various spellings of some words, how they like to treat footnotes, indexing, or references etc, you are going to save perhaps hundreds of dollars invested in their time and efforts by their not having to change simple things. Discussing a style guide with your editor or publisher before you begin to write can also save a lot of time.
Your editor needs to be able to focus on the sentence structure, the flow of the content, the areas that don’t work, and the things that don’t make sense. That’s what you use an editor for. However, every editor I know – and I’ve worked with quite a few now – hates having to do simple and obvious corrections throughout a manuscript – it slows down the process considerably. And can be frustrating.
Having your editor respect your efforts to get your manuscript ready for them, means they are more likely to love doing your editing, and given how much reading they have to do for a living, having them love your work just makes for a better relationship all round. And that’s worth having don’t you think?
Your editor should be part of your team – work closely with them and you’ll find your writing improves significantly over time.