People at Walmart – They Need an Editor (Your Book May Need One Too!)
Posted by Louisa Cornell Dec 9 2016, 8:00 am
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.