When it comes to editing my work, I'm pretty obsessive. At Soap Opera Digest, I'd read over articles multiple times and I did the same with BAND GEEK. And yet, I'm only human. There have been many times where I've read my work in print and have seen typos or have -- gasp! -- spelled an actor's name wrong. Trust me, I beat myself up over those errors; I didn't take them lightly. I'm sure that there are even typos in BAND GEEK. I did my best to catch them all, but no one is perfect.
This is why it's so important to have a capable person edit your work before it goes to print. At the magazine, we had a system of checks and balances where pages would be edited by multiple people. It wasn't 100 percent effective (again, we're all human), but it worked pretty well. For my book, I had several people do reads on it -- but I made sure that these were people who know how to write well and who'd give me an honest critique. Having friends and family read your manuscript is a great way to get some feedback, but it helps to have your work looked over by someone with actual editing skills.
I'm very fortunate in that I know other writers and journalists. My first draft was read by my journalism pal, Marybeth, who went through and commented on every single line. Meanwhile, I had my parents and several friends also look over and comment on it. But Marybeth was the one on whom I counted to offer serious writing critique.
For the next go-round, I had my novelist friend, Amy, go through the book. Marybeth then did another read. Again, they were both very honest and gave me some ideas of things to change.
For this most recent version, I got a nice surprise. Back in January, I received an e-mail from a young woman named Rachael who claimed to be my cousin from my mom's side of the family. I checked it out and she is indeed my second cousin. Turns out that she is also a writer/journalist, who writes personal histories for people. Basically, they tell her their life stories and she puts their history into a book. Her work is amazing.
She and I quickly bonded and she spent a week with us in June. She then graciously agreed to edit this final version of BAND GEEK. I asked her because I knew she'd be thorough and honest. And she was! She gave me such great feedback and had notes on everything from how I could improve certain lines to how I could make Josh and Melinda's relationship work better on paper. I've had many agents critique my work, but her notes rivaled any of theirs.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have journalist friends or a long-lost cousin who happens to be a writer, but you can still find someone capable to edit your book. Perhaps you have a friend who was an English major and teaches a writing course or perhaps you could turn to a former teacher for help. If not, consider joining a writing group or even take a writing class. You could hire a professional editor, but that can be very expensive. Plus, I think it's more helpful to figure out the editing on your own. Marybeth, Rachael and Amy didn't rewrite my work for me. They simply made suggestions and then it was up to me to implement them. A writing class or critique group will be helpful in the same way.
Even with all of this editing, I KNOW that BAND GEEK isn't perfect. I tried. I worked on this novel until my brain felt as if it would explode. Really, all I could do was make it as clean as possible -- and hope that my efforts paid off.
Please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.