How Editing Can Be Like Car Repairs

on 17 July 0 Comment

As a story teller, I love analogies. I think that everyone can gain additional perspective if an analogy enables them to relate to an unfamiliar situation. For me, many of my new editing are first-time authors who haven’t worked with an editor before. Many people however, have had a vehicle repaired, however.

So, I’m hoping this post might help those who are new to the editing process.

Whenever I am discussing a project with a new client, almost the first question is: How much does editing cost? I completely understand why this question is asked from a practical standpoint.

And here’s some insight about the answer: Asking how much will it cost to edit a book or article is kind of like asking a mechanic how much will it cost to repair a car. A mechanic can’t tell you how much it will cost for you to repair a car, and an editor can’t give you a price without looking at your written work.

A mechanic will first ask questions to learn about your car:

What kind of vehicle do you have? Is it even a car? Is it a motorcycle? A smart car? A BMW SUV? All these vehicles require different parts and the work involved to fix them to optimal levels varies greatly, which varies the cost widely.

An editor will ask you about word count, genre and topic. Most need to see a sample chapter to formulate an estimate.

Some manuscripts are still just car parts that haven’t been properly assembled and checked…in other words, they are various pieces of inspiration in a pile that may have been written at different times.

Other cars are very polished pieces crafted by a budding and meticulous car builder, who is smart enough and vulnerable to being evaluated by an expert of the craft. Sometimes, these works are already solidly constructing and just need some testing and tweaking. But you can always learn and get great reinforcement when you have your work evaluated by someone who is an expert in the field.

The goal of your project also affects how much you may need to have something edited. Do you just want a record of events of your life for loved ones should something happen to you (a bicycle), or do you want to inspire thousands of people with beauty in a product that has value (a BMW)?

The first takes less editing, but the second requires building a bridge with your potential audience, and evaluation about if your content is relevant to them. It requires multiple reads, at different times, for different purposes.

As you begin to seek an editor, figure out how professional you want your book to be. You could have a 13-year-old watch YouTube videos and try to figure out how to fix your car, or put together parts of cars to get you from point A to point B—and you may even have some success.

Similarly, you could have someone without editing experience edit your book. But, I’d recommend asking yourself, who do you trust with the investment you have put into your book? Are you looking for a best seller or an award-winning book? Or are do you just want something out ASAP?

I personally advise people to go the professional route unless you are only circulating your piece to family, because once it is out there, you can’t take it back!

When people rely on self-editing, crucial parts often get left out. You may have not thought to put some of the factual details in your work (the where, when, why and how) because your brain fills in the gaps as you read over your own work. A good editor will identify potential reader questions, just like a mechanic will ask you about sounds your car may make.

It’s ideal to find a balance of quality, speed and budget that works for you. You may not be able to buy or produce a BMW right now. Maybe you are actually in the market for a bicycle. That is fine…and you will get further with it than on foot. If you only have budget for a bicycle right now, decide if you want to buy the bike now, and use it, or if you want to save for the car using the funds.

Having deadlines are great—but be flexible in case you choose to alter the scope of the project. If you take your car in just for an oil change, but you find out you need a new transmission, and you decide to go ahead and get the transmission, understand that the repair will take longer.

If you need help in editing, we are here to help! Keep writing! The world needs your message. Click contact us if we can be of assistance.