I absolutely love NaNoWriMo, that annual November lite-competition in which authors around the world attempt to each write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. It’s fun, it’s a great discipline tool, and it can leave you with a great “start” to a manuscript (notice I didn’t say publishable book).
But NaNo is not the norm. Most of us do not write a full novel every month, though there are some authors out there who have the time management skills and the talent to do so. They also have a fan base who is breathing down their necks for more content, so they’re driven, as well.
Here’s my problem: if it took you a year or more to write your book, why do you think I can edit it in ten days?
Yes, I’m an editor, and every so often I get clients who waltz in with a manuscript, negotiate the process, then commence hounding me for their edits. (NOTE: I have knowingly taken on two “emergency” projects whose details I don’t have to go into here…if you two are reading this, you guys are NOT what I’m referring to!)
Ask yourself this question: if it took you months…whole SEASONS of the year…to write your book, do you REALLY want me to rush? I can hand it back to you in three days, if that’s what you really want. But IS that what you want?
Of course not.
The real problem is that a lot of authors have no idea what editors do. We’re not just looking for typos. We fact check. We compare to other books. We question your tone, your message, your intent. We even remember that on page thirty-one you said he had blue eyes, but on page nine hundred they’re now brown.
We do it all.
Unfortunately, a lot of the problem stems from authors who might be suffering from a little bit of a superiority complex. After all, they’re such amazing writers that these edits should take me about twenty minutes, right? They also work under the impression that I somehow pay my mortgage, my car payment, and my child’s orthodontist despite having only one client…them. That’s a really interesting mathematical anomaly when you think about it.
Please remember that your editor cares about you and your book, or he wouldn’t be doing this. We don’t edit because we love destroying dreams or watching you wait nervously for your manuscript to come back, we edit because we love books and want the world to have plenty of great things to read. But we can’t help you make your book great if you’re not willing to understand and acknowledge what it is we do.