Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Now that I’m in the editing business with Indie-Scribable (sans clients, as of yet, but I know they’re out there!), I’ve been thinking about how I approach manuscripts written by others. It used to be easy when I was a medical editor: you bring the text into line with house style. Piece o’ cake. The hardest part was slogging through dense and repetitive doctor-prose. (They’d all rather say “utilized” than “used,” among other things.)
With an indie writer’s precious work, I have a different idea. Keep known style points in mind but be open to adaptation. As I mention over at the Indie-Scribable website, I’m not one of those editors who is obsessively hostile toward adverbs and adjectives. They have their place. (Use adverbs wisely, I say.) If I sense that the writer is skillful about it, shouldn’t she get to sprinkle a few of ‘em hitherly and yonly? It’s a rhythm thing, a color thing. If she’s inclined to swagger, then I want her book to swagger.
So here’s a question for you indie writers out there. What do you really want from your copyeditor? A firm hand that corrals your work into proven patterns? Or a lighter touch that lets your writing show the small idiosyncrasies that identify you as a writer?
Interestingly, I had the latter for my first novel, Parts Unknown. I was a little apprehensive waiting for the edits from the HarperCollins copyeditor, but when they arrived I saw that she had approached the text with complete respect for the sound of my voice. She fixed a few technical issues, capitalized a few trade names, and queried about a few passages where my meaning wasn’t as clear as it could be. I was overjoyed.
What do you say? When you hire an editor, what do you expect? What are you hoping for?
PS — Don’t forget, my first three clients get a special rate, and all clients receive a copy of one of my ebooks. If your manuscript is ready for copyediting or proofreading, drop me a line!