I was going to write about Being Original today, but I’m sure that’s already been done. What I will talk about, is The Hardest Thing You Will Ever Have To Do As A Writer:
Editing your own manuscript.
I don’t mean going through and finding typos or grammatical silliness; I’m sure your already doing you’re bit in that respect. I’m talking real, honest-to-goodness editing. The difference between 90% of self-published eBooks and Actual Real Books, is that Actual Real Books have been edited by a professional. (And they aren’t about Werewolf Rimming) An editor is the writer’s best friend, and there is one blindingly obvious reason why he has to exist: you cannot edit your own manuscript. No, you can’t. Stop it now. Put that down.
You are too close to your work to be objective. It’s pretty much impossible for you to step outside your massive ego long enough to decide that one piece of prose deserves to be in the final text, but another one is pointless and has to go. So, you can see why your quest to self-publish is fruitless now, right? You’re never going to produce a finished product that’s polished enough to compete with the legitimately published work out there, so you should probably give up now, yeah?
As fucking if.
Unpublished writers are some of the most deluded, blinkered, egomaniacal fuckheads in the universe. If you don’t believe me, go look on your WordPress reader under the category of ‘Writing’. Strong in these ones, the self-important bollocks is. You bash out 300,000 words about An Ancient Land Of Chivalry And Magic Where Dragons Rim Unicorns, 276,000 of them adverbs ending in ‘ly’, and expect people to read them without turning their eyeballs into spurting hot arcs of face-diarrhoea. You’re going to proceed anyway, and clog the already bursting pipes of ePublishing with the fetid abortion-juice of your trite, sub- Stephenie Meyer creativity. (No, Google Chrome Spell Checker, I didn’t type that incorrectly. The cunt can’t even spell her own first name.) You’re going to go ahead and put out an 1,800 page trilogy of Hunger Games-inspired Bisexual Watersports Slash Fiction, typed entirely on a keyboard that has no letter J. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to. I’m here to tell you there’s another way.
The truth is, you’re probably not good enough to be a writer. But hey, lots of published writers aren’t good enough either. A lot of them can’t write for shit. But that doesn’t matter, because an agent liked his or her book, and thought he could sell it. The publishing people liked his or her literary voice, and hooked him or her up with a good editor, and now he or she is selling a million copies a month. See all those bits where you wanted to correct my ‘his or her’ to ‘their’? You were wrong, and that’s why you’re probably not good enough to be a writer. Unless you get yourself an editor.
I don’t have an editor. Sure, I have sex with an editor. That doesn’t help me though; she’s an editor for children’s books. It does help with the sex though; she often dresses up like Stephanie from Lazy Town. Mmmmmm, Spermticus. Anyway, I’m going to edit my own book. In fact, I’ve already done it. How? Well I just checked my ego at the door:
Every time my main character/any character said something pointless that was only in the book to make people go ‘Oooooh, isn’t he a good writer!’, out the fuck it went. Every time I’d put some words in there that were just filler, out the fuck they went. (Like my narrator saying ‘This was true’ after someone made a statement. ‘This was true’ is an opinion, not a fact. Out!) If it didn’t tell you something about the character, about the plot or about something important, out the fuck it went. If it was navel-gazing, pointless scene-setting, opinion, cliché, not essential to the story, out, out OUT!
I realise that for some of you guys, following this advice would leave you with about 20% of your book. But, that’s because your book is fucking terrible. That’s what an editor would tell you, and that’s what you’ll never tell yourself. You’re not as amazing as I am. You can’t do that thing up there, where I checked my ego at the door. You don’t have it in you to do the ‘Out, out OUT!’ thing. You’re not me. That’s why you need an editor.
In some completely unrelated news, I am now available to edit manuscripts. Extremely reasonable rates. Apply within.