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People at Walmart – They Need an Editor (Your Book May Need One Too!)

After nearly fourteen years working at Walmart, there are a great many reasons I am grateful I no longer work there! One reason – I am no longer bombarded with live versions of those People at Walmart memes you see on Facebook. Trust me, it is far more frightening live. The nightmares are recurring less often the longer I am away. I am certain they’ll go away completely. Eventually. SHUDDER

 

I have often thought those people were in need of some help. Some of them simply needed a mirror. I am certain if they saw themselves they’d reconsider their wardrobe choices. God, I hope so! Some of them were in need of a diet and some exercise. With the proper food choices and exercise (and buying the correct size) their fellow shoppers would not be subjected to shots no porno director would ever consider making. Some merely needed some makeup tips or a sandblaster, whatever works. Tammy Faye Baker called. She wants her makeup back.

 

Basically, all the People at Walmart denizens need is a good editor. A good editor can cure a multitude of sins. Some writers may be good editors as well. There are actually customers who show up at Walmart who are well-dressed, with hair that doesn’t look like a chameleon on LSD, and makeup that doesn’t have drag queens saying “Damn, bitch! What were you thinking?” These people don’t need an editor because they know what it takes to make certain they don’t end up on a People at Walmart meme. You don’t need an editor because you’ve been reading and writing romance for years and years. You know what a well-edited story is supposed to look like. Right?

 

Self-publishing can be an expensive endeavor. Between cover designers, formatters, proofers, editors, and many other out-of-pocket expenses it is little wonder authors are looking for ways to minimize the up-front hit to their bank accounts. Perhaps hiring an editor seems like an unnecessary expense. After all, you’ve been writing for years. It’s your story. You know what works and what doesn’t. And your cousin’s sister-in-law is an English professor. She’ll read over it and spot any errors for free. You have a critique partner who keeps you in line and knows exactly what you want to say with each story. You’ve got this. Editor? We don’t need no stinking editor!

 

Then again, with Amazon pulling books for poor editing and reviewers becoming savvy enough to use terms like – no internal conflict, I didn’t believe the heroine’s motivation and that third subplot was not resolved you might want to reconsider. Sending your baby out in a onesie and booties that don’t match is one thing. Sending her to her prom in ugly shoes, the wrong color dress, and a hairdo from the Rocky Horror Picture Show is something else entirely.

 

Editors come in all varieties and can serve all sorts of purposes. They can hold a mirror up to your work and point out that bra strap peeking out or that hem about to unravel. Sometimes that mirror can have you dragging that manuscript back into the house for a complete makeover. God knows I wish some of those Walmart customers had access to that mirror.

 

Editors can trim away the fat, hoist the girls into a better fitting bra, cram that well-rounded story into some spanx to smooth out those rough edges. They can help you dress your story in the right words to walk out the door and grab the reader’s attention. They can tone the makeup of adverbs, adjectives, and those subplot eyelashes so thick no one can see the story but you down to that natural Julia Roberts level. Or they can take your “natural look” sparse story and help you fill in the holes. A little verbal concealer does wonders for a slow, bumpy story.

 

Sometimes, you simply need an editor to check your story’s clothes for loose strings or missing buttons. Sometimes an editor simply needs to give the story’s face that last touch with the face powder or that last little curl at the back of the head. A good editor knows how to look at your story and see the things you didn’t see. Sometimes even to see the things you thought were there, but weren’t. A good editor’s job is not to write your story, or even to rewrite it. A good editor’s job is to check your outfit, hair, and makeup and suggest those little nips, tucks, and flourishes that will have your story going from “Isn’t she lovely?” to “SHE’S A BRICK HOUSE!”

 

Ever wonder why Angelina Jolie, considered one of the most beautiful women alive, has her own personal makeup artist? Because she needs one. Period. Or as Dolly Parton says “It takes a lot of effort to look like this!”

 

Ultimately it is your choice. Just as it is your choice as to what you want an editor to do, how much you want them to do, and how far you want them to go. Hiring an editor is like hiring a doctor. This person works for YOU, not the other way around. And, like finding that perfect personal physician, it may take a few tries to find the right one. Everyone has that one true friend who will tell them the truth about how they look before they walk out the door. Most people take weeks, months, even years to find that friend. Once they do, they hang on to them because that is a rare form of trust. The process for finding the right editor for your work should be just as diligent, just as discerning, and just as selective.

 

Your critique partner, your cousin’s sister-in-law, or your friend who teaches high school English will do their very best to help you polish your work. But lets face it, those People at Walmart all have friends too. Friends who let them leave the house like that. Friends who walk around Walmart with them and don’t say a word. Friends who let friends shop in their pajamas and smoky eyes that look like the Mask of Zorro.

 

Authors, however, have a higher responsibility. Your readers expect the very best story you can give them. The very best story you can create in your head. The very best story you can write. The very best story you can polish. The very best story you can publish. You are the person who decides what that story is. An editor is the person who helps you deliver it.

 

Why do you need to hire an editor? For the same reason I never go to Walmart in my pajamas. You never know whose looking. And you damned sure don’t want to end up on Facebook for all the wrong reasons. Neither does your book.

 

What do y think about editors? Need them? Don’t need them? Love them? Hate them? A necessary evil? Lets talk. You can wear your pajamas for this discussion. I won’t tell. Smoky eyes, green hair, and thongs are completely optional.

 

 

 

16 responses to “People at Walmart – They Need an Editor (Your Book May Need One Too!)”

  1. Beth Trissel says:

    Great post, AGAIN, Louisa. 🙂 Good points and I love your humor.

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  2. Wow really? says:

    Could you be more judgmental? Yikes. I didn’t make it to what I’m pretty sure is the most important part of this post because the first few paragraphs were so offensive that I DNF’d… Just wow.
    “Some of them were in need of a diet and some exercise.” – probably true, but also none of your business and it certainly should not be a reason to mock them.

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    • Kate Parker says:

      There’s nothing wrong with being portly (heaven knows I am) if you don’t try to wear your teeny teenaged daughter’s clothes.

      That said, I enjoy satire. Remember Jonathan Swift? Those who got his humor loved it. Those who didn’t wanted him thrown out of church.

      And Louisa, I enjoyed your analogy with editors. I use at least two every round after critique partners have shown me all my faults. It’s the most expensive part of self-publishing, and the most necessary. My mirror on my writing must be warped to miss some of my errors.

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    • I am sorry you were offended by my post. I certainly did not write it with offensive nor judgemental intent. I am a woman on the obese scale. I am working on better eating choices and getting more exercise. I do, however, take enough pride in my appearance to make appropriate clothing choices for my size and age. I do it for myself, because it was the way I was raised, and because I do not want to offend others. This post is about the ability to take a critical look at one’s work, to realize it is not perfect, and to have the courage to ask for help and to do what it takes to change it so it can be its very best. I try to adopt the same attitude towards my physical and mental well-being. As Kate Parker and a number of others have said, much of this post is tongue-in-cheek and makes use of analogy. I apologize for giving offense. It was certainly never meant as such.

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  3. jbrayweber says:

    Sadly, many people often do not respect themselves enough to take a step back and really look at themselves (or as in the case with authors, look at their books) with a critical eye. Or, they just don’t care what others think. Such as it is, they risk being mocked, ridiculed, and not taken seriously.

    Excellent tongue-in-cheek post about the need for editors.

    Jenn!

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    • Thanks, Jenn! The hardest thing to do is to turn a mirror on ourselves, whether it be our appearance or our written work. The joy comes when we ourselves or when someone we hire for that purpose sees not simply that their are errors, but even better ways for those errors to be corrected and for our work or ourselves to be improved. I am well aware that who I am and what I write will ALWAYS be well served by correction, editing, and the desire to always strive to be better!

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  4. So let’s talking editing. I’m a former magazine editor, and I’ve edited manuscripts for writer friends, but I would NEVER edit my own work. A good editor provides fresh eyes and keen and consistent comment, criticism, and correction. Good editors make writers better craftsmen AND storytellers. Any writer serious about improving craft (and sales!) needs to invest in editing services, ideally at three levels: content/development editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

    Okay…jumping off my soapbox…

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    • Thank you, Shelley! As concise an explanation for the need of an editor as I’ve ever heard. None of us has unprejudiced eyes when it comes to our own work. A fresh set of eyes and insight is a great reason to hire an editor!

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  5. Seriously great advice. I’ve had great editors and one not so good. We won’t discuss the not so good. The great editors saw things in my stories that I had totally missed and they made them so much better. The few one or two star reviews I have are my own fault because I entered the indie world on a very tight budget and I went for friends for editing and copy-editing. Even though the one story I’m speaking of has since been professionally edited and copy-edited and now has over 300 five and four star reviews, the one and two star reviews still stand. They bug the hell of me. I learned my lesson and never will I publish another story without a professional editor.

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    • Thank you, Autumn! The temptation is always there to edit oneself or to go as inexpensively as possible when choosing editing scenarios. And sometimes those hard lessons are the very best ones!

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  6. Gwynlyn says:

    Laurie and I were discussing this very topic last night, Louisa. Being her editor, I need the objectivity to stand back and look with dispassionate eyes. There isn’t a writer on this planet who writes with any passion or depth of feeling who can do that with his or her own work. If they could, then they didn’t invest enough of themselves, in the first place, to make the writing resonate with readers.

    Editing, however, can be highly subjective, as I discovered the hard way. My head knew I had a timeline issue, but I couldn’t find it. However, my gut kept insisting, so I hired an editor for a developmental edit. The sample pages were outstanding, above and beyond my wildest hope. But the whole manuscript? Certain aspects of the edit were spot on, but so much more was missed, and what I needed and paid for was never addressed.

    I’m happy to say, the lightbulb finally flared to illuminate the problem for me, but only after it was published, which meant taking it down and doing the necessary work (which, for me, turned into a major overhaul, but that’s me *sigh*), so your analogy is right on the money, which can be quite the hefty sum! Unfortunately, it’s made me gun-shy of all the people touting their editing ability, and sample pages just won’t cut it the next time.

    BTW, I think Walmart is the scariest place in town. 😉

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      There’s such a big gap between developmental editing and line editing….some editors are great at the big picture/story arc, and others are fabulous with the nuances of language (and fixing all the typos). It’s rare to have one editor who can do both really well.

      I’m lucky in that mine does double-duty like that. And I’d rather walk out the door naked than publish an unedited book.

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      • You are so right, Elisa! One of the reasons I have limited myself (so far) to proofing and editing historical romance is the mindset is a bit different when editing it. In addition to everything else I look for modernisms creeping into the language and other societal aspects and I check etymology on words that are anachronistic.

        I have found it helpful to ask my clients exactly what they are looking for in an edit. If they simply want line edits, that is what I do. If they want conceptual or story edits that is what I do. If they want the whole ball of wax, that is what I do. And I always ask if there are particular things they want me to hone in on as I go. Most authors have great instincts concerning their timing, their story arc, chemistry between hero and heroine, etc. Not all editors work that way.

        LOL I feel the same way about my work! My work is never fully dressed until it is edited!!

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  7. LOL ! Yes, Walmart is indeed the scariest place in town! A place I only visit as a customer now. And I make certain I give them no excuse to label me as People at Walmart material!

    I am glad you touched on the passion it takes to write and how that very vital ingredient can also lead to an author’s downfall when they are looking at their own work.

    When I work with my editing clients I always ask if there are specific areas of concern they want to me pay special attention to as I edit. I still look for the things I would normally look for, but I make certain I address the issues with which they are concerned. And sometimes I find there was nothing for them to worry about at all. But most of the time their instincts are correct.

    And finding a good editor is like finding Prince Charming. You have to kiss a lot of toads!

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