Thursday 28 August 2014

Your Editor IS Shakespeare (But You’re Too Proud to Listen)

The situation: your manuscript comes back covered in tracked changes and comments.

You feel: rage.

You’ve paid somebody to edit your book and you’re expecting half-a-dozen minor suggestions and a pat on the back. Instead, your returned manuscript reveals that you can’t spell, punctuate or construct sentences. In fact, it’s a wonder you passed GCSE English.

At this point, there are two attitudes you can take:

- What a wanker! I know best.

- Wow, that editor did a lot for his money.

You tell yourself that you have a better command of the English language than he does. You tell yourself that your unorthodox sentences are part of a creative rebellion. You rant online about editors being too big for their boots.

I’m sorry, but unless you’ve been really unlucky with your editor, he probably does have a better command of the language than you do. His entire job revolves around understanding spelling, punctuation and grammar, whereas yours includes storytelling and other skills that dilute your attention to linguistic accuracy.

Whilst it’s okay to occasionally bend the rules of the language in the name of creativity, you must first demonstrate that you know what the rules are.

Accept that you may be the book’s author, but that doesn’t make you the expert on its finish. If you genuinely think your editor is over-editing or plain wrong, get somebody else to look over the document for a second opinion.

Do not sack your editor in an angry rage. Do not trash your editor’s reputation on the internet. Do not add an introduction to your book excusing your illiteracy, e.g.

‘Don’t bother reading if typos happen to be a pet peeve of yours. Perhaps someday I will be able to afford an editor who isn’t up his own arse. But then what can you expect from someone whose pathetic pernickety excuse for a life involves placing commas in necessary locations, excising extraneous ones, and fixing spelling errors.’

Insulting people who care about literature isn’t a great start when you’re trying to sell a book. Consider switching to a career path designing emoticons.

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