Bernie pic

Bernie pic

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Importance of Being Edited

My guest blogger is Katie Dowling who is interviewing me which sounds pretty weird so I will let Katie take over.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bernie from Bent Banana Books, who has been on both sides of the equation when it comes to editing and being edited. 

Q: What does it feel like to have your 'babies' held under the spotlight?

A.      I think I have a healthy attitude to fiction editing. I believe my editors want to make my work better. Editing is a negotiation but if a writer stubbornly refuses to negotiate it is their loss. I was grateful for the editing professional editor Eoin O’Brien did on my novel Iraqi Icicle.

Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring author about going into the process of having their work edited? 

A.      I would suggest they work towards hiring a professional editor for eventually a full edit. . While I realize many aspiring writers may not have the money at their fingertips, hiring an amateur editor is a backward step in most cases. While you are saving for a professional editor, you can find beta readers and send out advanced reader copies (ARCs). (Search the internet for more on these.)
You can also apply for a grant to pay for editing services.

Q: Is it important to pay for a professional job, or are there other ways to get by? What if someone is very financially strapped? 

See my last answer. The three most important things in publishing a manuscript, in order, are editing, the cover and the title.
You can research information about titles and you can get good cover designs relatively cheaply but full professional editing does cost a lot.
As I said, saving and applying for grants are ways for the financially strapped to pay for editing.
If it is going to take you a year to have your novel ready saving $8 a week will give you enough money for cover design and editing when it’s ready

Q: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing in this day and age? 
A.      For new writers, comparing self-publishing to chasing a traditional publishing deal it is all pros for self-publishing Big publishers have got rid of most of their “mid-listers” which is where you would sit if you were lucky enough to secure a contract.
Instead of reading unpublished manuscripts, the publishers can now read the sales figures for self-published authors and pick those up who are selling above their peers.
Also self-publishing is a way to see if you really do have a big enough readership out there.
The main downside of self-publishing is that authors can get caught up in endless marketing of their first book and not finish their second. The other thing to be wary of is spending money on unproductive advertising.
Editing and cover design are never a waste as they make your book the best it can be and something you can be proud of even it turns out to not be as irresistible as you thought it would be.

Q: How has your work as a journalist informed your writing and editing practices? 
A.      People bag journalism because it is often written for readers with a 12-year old vocabulary. On the flip side journalism teaches us to admire brevity. Using big words to impress will surely backfire.
Another thing you learn in journalism is not to use the same word twice in a sentence and to avoid the same word in consecutive sentences. (Of course we are not talking about, a, an, the, of, in and so on). This is a common error in creative writing made worse if a writer overuses uncommon words or expressions.
As far as editing goes, journalism teaches you the need to concentrate when editing. Many of us know how the mind can play tricks such as thinking a word is spelled correctly when the first and last letters are right.

Q: Do you have anything else to add? 
A.      As a small publisher of Bent Banana Books, and an author, I wish all emerging authors all the best. It is a long hard road but writing is a lot of fun which is why so many of us do it.
It is also a life-long learning process so there is a lot to be said for starting young.
BTW, if you are in the area, you are welcome to the launch of my novel Iraqi Icicle Third Edition. It is at 1pm on April 1, 2017, at Pine Rivers Art Gallery, 199 Gympie Rd, Strathpine.

Our song is from another Katie

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