NEED AN EDITOR?
You’ve finished the last sentence of your book, turned off the computer, and gone out for your celebratory drink. Now what?
My advice is to wait at least a month without taking even a single peek at your manuscript. It takes at least a month, sometimes two, to get a fresh perspective. When you look at it again, you’ll see your writing more the way a reader would. You’ll see all the stuff that needs to be fixed, added to, fiddled with, and permanently deleted.
Next, ask some reader and writer friends to read your work, preferably ones who’ll give you honest feedback. If many of them are giving you the same advice, take that advice.
When you’re as happy with your work as you think you’re going to be, and before you send it off to publishers, agents, or decide to self-publish, consider hiring a freelance professional editor, preferably one who specializes in memoir writing if that’s your genre. Why?
Let me count the ways…or actually, just tell you a few of them.
After all the work you’ve done, your manuscript deserves the chance to compete in the very crowded market. Your readers deserve to get what they paid for. Readers expect books to be not only edited properly, but also well-written. With all the millions of books out there that are beautifully-written, why would anyone waste time on a book of low quality? Have you had the experience of trying to read a self-published book only to come across grammatical errors on the very first page? I have. Or you see that the writer has no focus, or doesn’t know how to create a scene, or write description, or use dialogue, or doesn’t understand that clichés kill writing, and very likely didn’t pass Grade 10 English? The main problem I come across is new writers don’t understand they have to show, not tell. They use adverbs instead of strong verbs. They use adjectives, sometimes even generic boring adjectives, such as ‘weird’, or ‘bizarre’ or ‘romantic’ when they should be cutting those out entirely and showing us how someone or something is ‘weird’ or ‘bizarre’ or ‘romantic’, letting the reader come to her own conclusions. Show, don’t tell is the number one rule of writing, yet so many new writers don’t understand this.
If these concepts are new to you, hiring an editor is the bare minimum you can do. But so many writers decide to skip this crucial step, crossing their fingers things will work out okay.
They usually don’t and you’re left with a book that gets rejected by agents and publishers, or else a self-published embarrassment that only your friends and family buy out of obligation.
A professional editor will coach you to find your main theme, cutting out rabbit trails that lead nowhere and don’t fit the theme. An editor will see if you’re getting preachy or self-helpy (often hard for the writer to see because he or she is too close to the material). A professional editor will challenge you to let readers in, so the writing is authentic and the author shown to be vulnerable and human.
I could keep going on all the hundreds of reasons why it’s important to hire an editor but you probably already know it’s important.
If you’d like to hire me, I have over 20 years experience in editing and writing and I would love to polish your work so it sings. I can cut out the clutter, ensure that every sentence is clear and necessary, and tweak your writing so it says what it needs to say. As a published author with Penguin and Random House, I understand the need to preserve your style yet make your work professional and error-free. Whatever sort of writing you’re submitting and whatever you’re looking for in an editor (proofreading, full edits, coaching, consultation) I’m up for the job and always make my deadlines. I’m also a former English teacher and have a broad knowledge base in a variety of fields. I look forward to helping you!
My special interests are:
Memoir, Travel, Humour, Personal Essay, Themes of Family, Health, Childhood, and all Fiction. For memoir, I’m drawn to writing that’s lyrical, honest and blends introspection with real-world experience.
I will read, assess and write editorial comments and suggestions on a portion of your manuscript and from there, we can decide if you’d like substantive editing on the entire work along with detailed line editing, or more of a consulting/coaching relationship.
I charge $55/hour.
Finally, this past year (of the pandemic) I’ve been doing a ton of editing (of personal essays) for the writing students of the wonderful writer Alison Wearing who teaches a popular online memoir writing course called Memoir Writing Ink.
“It is rare to find an editor with intuitive as well as analytic instincts. Is it because Laurie Gough is both writer and editor? She has a writer’s instincts for what drives and layers a story, draws out characterization; she has an editor’s scalpel for how to carve out the extraneous. Working with Laurie through several drafts of my short-story “Appropriation” was a stimulating challenge and just what I needed for the “now” in my literary career. She pushed some limits, tested my courage, dug deeper into what motivated the protagonist, and planted some seeds that propagated between drafts. Even after eight published books, a writer still needs the fresh eyes of a neutral professional editor. What better time than before you submit to a publisher or competition? Working with Laurie on this little story gave me hope again, and a pivot point, having just put the 8th book “to bed.” ~Darlene Madott, author of, among others, Dying Times, and Stations of the Heart. (Both published by Exile Editions.)
“I can’t say enough positive things about working with Laurie Gough. Her editing of my memoir was honest, insightful, perceptive, and most of all, encouraging. I learned so much about the craft of writing through Laurie and what makes a memoir come alive. She took me from zero to sixty and now I’m a published author. Thank you, Laurie!” ~Rob Imbeault, author of Before I Leave You: A Memoir of Suicide, Addiction, and Healing
“Laurie is an astute editor, with great instincts for language and the human condition. With a light, deft touch, she quickly sizes up what needs to be done to improve a story or essay, and offers practical, realistic advice. Laurie really catches the nuances! ~Diane Bracuk, author of the award-winning short story collection, Middle-Aged Boys & Girls (published by Guernica)
“Laurie’s insightful and disciplined work was such a gift. She is a sensitive and precise editor – equally adept at the basics of punctuation and the nuances of story telling. I was grateful for and challenged by her input.” ~Marion Adler, actress, writer, singer, award-winning lyricist
“Great insights and very meticulous with every paragraph. You saved me, Laurie! Also, your rates are incredibly reasonable considering your years of expertise. Thank you!” ~Dawn Matheson, travel writer and author of: Guelph: Perspectives on a Century of Change 1900-2000.
“Laurie Gough steered me through the early stages of my writing, teaching me the essential “show not tell” principle. She guided in a straightforward manner, reinforcing the positives and pointing out areas needing work. Through her editing feedback and suggestions, I became a stronger and clearer writer. She talked me through periods of discouragement by assuring me that writing is always worth it!” ~ Jo Sorochinsky, author of Dancing With My Father, to be published in 2021 with Amsterdam Publishers.
“Laurie gives timely, clear, and insightful feedback. She approaches writing with integrity. I would encourage anyone to work with her.” ~Ann Cavlovic, environmental writer and playwright, author of the award-winning, Emissions: A Climate Comedy.
*NOTE: I edit fiction as well as nonfiction but Reedsy only lets you choose one for some reason.