Finding someone who can critically read your work and give you valuable feedback is imperative. You're probably wondering, "How is it that I do that?" Maybe you don't have a readily available genius of an editor friend...that you know of at least.
The person who is fit to read your work doesn't have to be a professional editor. What you should be looking for is someone who is a critical reader. What friends do you have that enjoy talking about books? When you talk about books with them, are they able to pull out themes and interpret the writer's words? This doesn't even have to be a good friend. It could be an acquaintance you met once. Maybe you've only had one or two conversations with them, but you found out they are a critical reader during one of those chats. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask if they'd be willing to read and give critical feedback on your work. The worst that could happen is they say no because they are too busy, but you've just flattered them by asking. They may be a good candidate to read your work at a later date.
I have tested two ways of going about finding an editor. The first, I had a couple of people, who I did not know very well, read my work at the same time, with the same draft. I met with these two at the same time to hear their feedback. There were pros and cons to this approach.
Pros were they brought different perspectives, which opened up more dialogue than if there was only one of them there. They fed off each other's energy and excitement to give their feedback, which made for a focused and high energy conversation.
Although it was wonderful to have different perspectives, because they edited the same draft at the same time, they disagreed with each other on some major aspects, which weren't really resolved. It wasn't bad that they disagreed, but in the same meeting, it felt a bit overwhelming and more difficult to discover a solution or best fit because of their differing perspectives.
I am currently taking the approach of having multiple editors, but they will be editing different drafts at different times. These editors I pulled from close friends and family. I have had my first critical reader read my novel and write up some kickass notes and suggestions for me. We met to discuss what he said in more detail. This gave me a good idea on where to start in my edits and go from there. I have my work cut out for me, that's for sure, but with his help, I have a direction.
Once I finish those edits, I will be sending off the next draft to my next editor that I have set up. I will repeat this one more time, as I only have three editors set up at the moment. I will circle back around to my first editor and so on to get feedback on how I have changed things. The editing part is a beast, but knowing you have people who will help you out and give you those crucial critiques makes it so much easier.
Don't forget to show your appreciation to your editors whether in the form of a thoughtful thank you note, money, a gift, taking them out one night etc. If you want them to edit your work again in the future, this will go a long way!
Next week I'll be talking about the process of reviewing my first editor's notes.