The Harp Effect is on her way to her first professional edit. They grow so fast, don’t they? What a great way to start off the new year.
So far, the completed manuscript has been through two edits by me, where I read through the entire thing without cringing, which came on either side of a content edit by a complete stranger who responded to my Facebook ad for an avid reader. (I took her to lunch as reimbursement.)
Not to mention I got a tremendous extension of God’s grace on the price. This editor was recommended to me by one of her clients, whom I met at a conference a few months ago (the best author networking I’ve achieved year-to-date). Although the price for her services was reasonable by industry standards, and much better than most freelance editors I’ve researched, I’m a little tight in the wallet right now. I was prepared to bite the bullet anyway to obtain a quality content edit that was being handed to me on a silver platter, but one of my mottoes is, “You don’t get if you don’t ask.” So, I politely expressed my situation in a few words and my desire for any potential for a lower price. And I got it.
So, we’ll see what comes of that. I don’t foresee the emergence of any major loopholes through fresh eyes. The Harp Effect has been, by far, the most frustrating of my books to write – as it’s taken me 13 years to perfect – and yet it’s the one book I could publish in confidence without a professional edit. That thing could go to market tomorrow and I wouldn’t flinch. However, I still felt that, as much work as I’ve put into it, I owe it to myself to really have it checked out by a technician before I deem her “trip worthy”. (But, as I’ve learned with Greater Perspective, thanks to electronic publishing, “finished” nay so much describes the physical state of the book as it does the emotional fortitude of the author to resist changing it once it’s published.)
This may surprise you, but I’ve learned a lot about editing from watching a series on YouTube called “Everything Wrong With [insert movie title]”. In each video, while relevant clips of the movie are playing in the background, the voice over guy points out all of the inconsistencies and conveniences that exist in the entire film. Some of them were box office hits. And it helps me to appreciate two things:
1. How difficult is the task of the screenwriter to make things logically perfect and entertaining at the same time.
2. You don’t have to be perfect to be successful. If someone can still pick apart some of the greatest films of our decade like that, then there’s no pressure on me. There will always be some necessary degree of creative license. On the other hand, some really dumb things won’t keep you away from your millions. (In fact, there are movies making millions that shouldn’t be.)
So, my personal test for knowing when any story is ready for print is:
1. Can I look any potential critic in the eye, knowing my craft of the story elements was as good as it could get?
2. When I go back and read it months later, does it still entertain me? That may sound obvious, but it’s quite easy to get bored with your own material over the long haul of novel completion. With all the burnout you’re going to suffer, you know you’ve created literary gold if it still emotionally stimulates you like a first-time reader. Now, some edits I’ve done with fresh eyes on my own work have made me cringe, but, luckily, each re-read of the completed Harp Effect and Greater Perspective still makes me smile, laugh, get horny…whatever the scene calls for. (Especially when it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten what I’ve written.) And for that, I breath a sign of relief.