Breezing through during these last days of 2014 to bring you my latest un-editorial experiences in the world of writing. Today I want to discuss the top twelve ways to make your editor bawl her eyes out.
Twelve Ways to Make Your Editor Cry
1. Telling your editor how long it should take her to read, edit and return your manuscript. I know you’re paying for your editing by the hour, but you won’t get your 400-page manuscript back in 7 or 8 hours no matter how hard you push. Save your editor some tears (and a few curse words). Don’t ask!
2. Being waaaay off in your word count. Nothing makes an editor weep faster than being told you’re subbing a 15,000 word book that turns out to be closer to 20,000 words. Know your word count…and expect a fee adjustment!
3. Submitting a single-spaced manuscript instead of a double-spaced one. It’s hard to believe that people still submit single-spaced manuscripts for editing, but they do…even though all the books, websites, podcasts, webinars, newsletters, critique groups and emails say it should be double-spaced.
4. Submitting a manuscript with no punctuation. Just the thought of this makes me want to dissolve into tears. But it still happens. I recently had someone submit a 54,000-word manuscript with no capital letters, no commas, no periods…no nothing. All I could do was go to bed and pull my blanket over my head.
5. Submitting a 300-page paragraph. Okay, so you’re not a book designer. I get it! But come on, everyone knows what a book looks like. How many times have you seen a 300-page book with no sentence breaks, chapter breaks, page breaks or chapter headings? You haven’t! And if you did run into a book like that, would you read it? Of course not…so don’t expect your editor to read it either.
6. Submitting your manuscript for a second edit without fixing the problems in the first edit. Writers who are eager to get published skim through edits at lightning speed, missing periods, commas, quotation marks, capitalized letters and so forth. Then they re-submit the book for the second edit and the poor, distraught editor has to go back and fix all the same flaws she found in the first edit. It’s tortue, I tell you!
7. Not knowing how to use the tracking tool and not bothering to learn. DON’T tell you editor you don’t know how to use tracking, and don’t ask for an impromptu lesson. Make it your business to Google “how to use tracking” and learn via Youtube or other Internet websites. You’ll save your editor a bucket of tears.
8. Telling instead of showing. Don’t bore your reader to tears by telling about a boy who bit into something sour. Thrill your reader by relaying how a tart taste clamped onto the boy’s unsuspecting tongue like fingernails clamping onto a forearm; how it locked his jaws and made his baby-blue eyes cross in his head.
9. Using six words to describe something when one or two would suffice. I don’t want to read that your hero is a big, thick, muscular, tall, dark, swarthy hunk of masculinity. Tall and swarthy will do just fine. You can sprinkle in the rest later.
10. Claiming everyone loves your book when you’ve only shown it to your spouse and your children. Oh yeah, and your mother. Your family loves you, so they’ll probably adore anything you write. If you’re going to vet your book, vet it! Join a critique group or pay for a professional critique. But don’t give me your sister’s, mother’s or first cousin’s opinion about what you’ve written. It only makes me want to cry.
11. Moving ahead with self-publishing your book when your editor has warned you it’s not ready. If your editor tells you your book is a disaster on stilts, you should probably listen. The words may seem cruel, but her intentions are good. She knows that self-publishing can be expensive, and she wants to make sure you do it right the first time.
12. Finding an error in your self-published book and blaming it on your editor. Believe me, your editor will be just as upset as you if you find typos and other problems in a book that has already gone to press. But it isn’t her fault. It’s YOUR book, and you’re the one who’s responsible for what goes out into the world. Don’t make your editor cry. Accept the blame for what you did…or didn’t do.
I hope these tips will help you in your quest to get edited and published.