Today I welcome M.D. Neu to the blog to share his author experiences with editing.
First off. I want to thank you for having me here today. I appreciate the opportunity to chat with you, and share more about me and my writing. Well, I’m M.D. Neu. I’m an author of LGBTQA fiction with a focus on Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal stories. I got involved in writing because as a kid I never saw myself represented in books, movies or television. As I got older, I started to see more gay and lesbian characters, however, that was when the AIDS epidemic started, so most of the characters were tragic. That wasn’t me. Jump forward several more years and now the gay and lesbian characters we see are more geared towards romance. And again that isn’t me. I write stories that represent the rest of us. My goal is to show that gay is cross gender, cross culture, cross race, and cross economics. That we are just like everyone else. To me, my stories aren’t about gay characters, but about people who are on an amazing adventure who just so happen to be gay.
I’ve been lucky with my publisher. Even though my stories may have small elements of romance in them they are not romance books and NineStar Press has welcomed me and my style of writing. I’m thrilled to be part of their publishing family.
2) What do you enjoy most about the editing process?
I have to say I love the editing process. I was recently being interviewed over at How Authors Work podcast and we talked a little about this. For me the editing process is about the fine tuning of the book. You have your draft and now is the time for you to go back and fill in the fun details and description. You get to take out what isn’t working and put in what is. It’s an opportunity for the writer to go back and play around with the story.
By the time the editing process starts the story should be finished. If you’ve done your job all the plot points are there as are all the character arcs. Editing allows you to go back and adjust these story points and clean them up. I guess, it’s like baking a cake. Editing is putting on the frosting and fixing all the little imperfection right before you share it with the world.
3) What do you find hardest about the editing process?
When to stop. As an author I want to keep fiddling with my novel. There’s always one more thing to fix or change. I suppose, it’s like a painter; the work is never finished. So, for me, I have to know when to put it down and say, “It’s done. This is it.” At that point I don’t read the work again, at least not in its entirety, because if I do I’ll find things I want to change. Even when I’m going back in and prepping to write the next book in a series I always find small details I want to change. It’s hard to turn that part of my brain off. I guess that is why you can do Second or Third Editions.
4) What are your general thoughts on editing as part of the overall publishing process?
Editing is honestly one of the most important parts of publishing. I find that authors rush through this and don’t give editing all the attention it needs. Which is a mistake. A huge mistake. You are never going to catch everything, but to rush through the editing phase is a disaster waiting to happen.
I count myself lucky I work with a wonderful editor over at NineStar. He and his team have saved my bacon when it comes to spelling, grammar, and odd little details that in my head were there, but on paper where not.
In order to have a book worth reading a novel must be properly edited, and this is something that should never be hurried or passed up on. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is, to me, to read a book that hasn’t been properly edited. If I’m finding spelling and grammar mistakes, then there is a problem.
Of course, don’t misunderstand me. Even books from large publishing houses have mistakes here and there. No book will ever be perfect, but with a good editor and taking your time, you can present your work in the best possible light.
5) What are your top editing-related tips for authors?
Once you have your first draft complete. Put it away for a few weeks. Work on something different. Then after several weeks have passed. Sit down and start to read your draft. You’ll be amazed at what you find that needs to be edited or fixed.
Next tip, find a writing group to work with. Spend time getting to know them. Not weeks but months. And then, within that group, start letting them read your work. They will find things that you never did. Even the hardest and most harsh comments will help you. It won’t be easy and you have to put in the work with them and their works, to really get the most out of it. But, it’s well worth the investment. You will grow as an author and make valuable contacts.
Another tip, whether your self-publishing or working with a publishing house. Find a strong editor and listen to them. Do what they suggest. They are there to help you put together the best possible novel. They want you to succeed. Yes, you may have creative differences, but don’t let that get in the way. I’m not saying to roll over for an editor, but take everything they say to heart. It really is a team effort at that point.
Last tip, if you’re married or have a family member who will read your book, have them read it. Ask them to be brutally honest. This will be hard for both you and them. Trust me I know. But the best thing I ever did was have my husband read my first book (He’s an avid reader) this is what he said, “It reads like a text book. It’s boring and I couldn’t get past the first chapter.” This wasn’t easy to hear, but it pushed me to make changes. So, find someone who will do this for you, who will pull out their ‘Machete of Love’ and give you honest feedback.
Oh, one last thing, Bonus, it’s okay to sulk and cry after you get this feedback. However, never let it make you feel like you’re a failure because you’re not. You did something that most people could never do. You sat down and wrote a story all the way to the end. That alone should make you feel like a success.
M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.
Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.
When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of nineteen plus years.