‘Put yourself out there,’ they said, after the umpteenth rejection of my first novel. ‘Why don’t you self-Publish!,’ they said. I nodded, smiling sweetly, thinking, ‘oo-er I’m not sure I want to take the scary path to self-publishing.‘
I had set my heart on being traditionally published and, during the first lockdown, I was presented with the best opportunity I would ever have to buff up my manuscript.
The first Lockdown
Over twelve months later, the competition from others vying to see their name in print is fiercer than it has ever been. In the current climate, agents will struggle to find the time to read all the MS’s they have received from the ever-growing numbers of wannabe authors.
2021 was the time to ‘get myself out there.‘ I’m no spring chicken, so I need to get on with it. So why did I hang around when I’ve been sitting on a finished manuscript for such a long time? Well, however old you are, your self-confidence often needs buoying up, even if you believe you have a story worth telling, and there is no better person to do that than your editor.
I knew the manuscript would benefit from a damn good edit, but not by me. I had been editing it until I was blue in the face, but who was I going find to do it?
At that point, I was still unaccepting of anyone’s suggestions about how my ‘first born novel’ could be improved, as well as being nowty* with those closest to me if they dared suggest any changes.
And then a hero comes along… with the strength to carry on… © Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff.
Well, it was a heroine in my case, and someone who had read the draft manuscript two years ago. She’d asked me then if I’d wanted her to edit it and, for some ridiculous reason, I declined. I have no idea why. Maybe I was terrified about what her overall reaction was going to be or, how much of it was she going to edit out?
Fortunately, and very recently in the scheme of things, I got over myself and emailed her the manuscript. I was still reserved when I received the edits of the opening chapters, even changing things back to my original version in a couple of instances.
But, around chapter twenty, her suggestions and changes began making perfect sense. Since then, there have been times when I thought some of the changes she’d made were as I’d originally written them. Ahem.
I am not quite there, yet, but I do feel incredibly fortunate to have found someone who is not only editing the manuscript, but will ‘hold my hand’ through the whole self-publishing process and who is making me feel that self-publishing is not such a scary path after all.
Leaning to trust, as well as respect, your editor’s decisions, is key. Writers pour their innermost feelings into their writing and they should never send their book anywhere without a few sets of well-trained eyes to help improve it, but editors are more than a second pair of eyes, they delete everything that hinders rather than benefits a story.
The bottom line is that an author and editor need to work together because, ultimately you both share the same goal – to get, and keep a reader’s attention.
*Nowty, in Northern British English, means grumpy! And I am very proud of my Yorkshire heritage.