But what do I really mean when I speak of an author’s voice?
We become attached to certain authors because when we read their works, we hear their “voice.” We hear them speaking to us.
Each author writes with a certain style, or in other words, the words he or she habitually uses that makes his or her writing unique. “Voice” conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character.
You have all heard me say that having a manuscript properly edited before publishing it is crucial for the indie author’s credibility. You may ask, “what is this process, and how do I retain my voice, and control of my work when someone else is intent on hijacking it?”
First of all, a good editor will never try to hijack your work. Writers intentionally use symbolism and thematic consistency. We sometimes intentionally repeat certain words for emphasis. These things are significant to us, and a good editor will recognize that.
So what does an editor look for in a manuscript?
Indies are looking for an editor who “helps a writer develop a book from idea or outline or initial draft. Makes sure the book will meet the needs of the publisher and its readers. Will work with the author through any number of drafts. Often works with writers of non-fiction. Guides the writer in topics to be covered in or omitted from the book.” quoted from the Editors Blog.
In other words indies want a structural editor. What will this editor do for them?
The professional freelance editor will read your manuscript, looking for the rough spots and inconsistencies that work their way into every final draft. They will suggest you correct certain grammatical errors and habits that interfere with the flow of your work, and give you an idea of how those corrections could be made. They will also point out things that are unnecessary background–info-dumps that have slipped through, and suggest you remove them.
Also a structural editor may suggest that a section be moved to a different, more appropriate place in the manuscript. This editor will devote a month or more of their time to your manuscript. This is a hefty commitment on their part, and is one that is not lightly made.
You, as the author, have the final say on your manuscript–it is after all your intellectual property. If you don’t want to change something you feel is intrinsic to what you are trying to express, you don’t have to.
Sometimes editors don’t see the forest for the trees–and a good conversation with the author will straighten those areas out. If your editor does not respond to your emails, or indicate in some way that they have heard your concerns, you should not work with them.
The best part of being an indie is having the control of your work. A good relationship with your editor is crucial to turning out a good product.