Editing The Ballad of Stevie Pearl

That’s what my desktop looks like–I see Stevie all day, every day.

Update time. So, not only have I chosen an editor for The Ballad of Stevie Pearl, but she has already sent back her finished revision! I should do a whole article based on the struggles of editing this novel under our current social climate, but that’s for another time...

Niko, who was originally asked to be the copy editor, stepped up big time and took on the role as my content editor. I am so happy, and so thankful for her. In full disclosure, she actually finished the edit a couple of weeks ago, and I’m just now putting meaningful time into her review… Wow, I suck! I’ve been surprisingly busy in my other life; building websites, shooting video, and editing commercials.

However, I’ve found a gap! I been working late into the night just so I could get clients off my back and have a few days to focus on Stevie and Niko. They both deserve so much more from me.

I’m currently 5 chapters into Niko’s edit, and so far I’m very happy with her work. Not only is she catching so many of my dumb mistakes, but she’s adding some logic and literal flow. I can get overly colloquial, and she’s helped point out some issues and turns-of-phrase. She’s giving the book discipline, and in the end I feel that will make it easier for you to read.

Truth be told, I hate the editing the process. I’m so terribly biased. I would not spend countless hours, drawn out years of planning and fussing over words, and considerable money on a story if I did not believe in it with my entire being. Having someone else manipulate that, for good or bad, is really hard to look at objectively. I know what I want, and I know why I did what I did—but I have no idea if that is transcending to the reader. Perhaps I get in my own way and create a few unnecessary distractions along the way.

Editing a novel is both the blessing and curse of the self-publisher. At this point, I have zero interest in pitching this novel to one of the Big 5. Fortunately, given the day job and my past professional experience, I can’t see what a regional publisher would offer me that I can’t do myself. I need readers, and a larger reach, but you can help me with that as much as a smaller publisher can. But editing is so difficult. I'm my own oversight committee, and we all know how poorly that works.

I love that the book you will end up reading is the exact story I wanted to share with you. No focus testing, no concessions for ideology or perceived sales, no suppression, no degradation of artist intent, no one thinking they know this story better than me. You will be reading the most pure version of the story in existence—my version. However, that purity can be a bit too raw–and that’s what I’m struggling against.

I’m hyper concerned over creating a smooth reading experience. I despise typos and how they take someone out of the story. While the book has been proof read by about 10 people, I don’t have a team sifting through it and catching mistakes. This bothers me. I also hate poorly constructed ideas. There’s something to be said for experience—a well experienced content editor can be like the secret sauce Kanye sprinkles onto his tracks. I want that. However, a well experienced editor can also mean that they’re heavily conditioned by the industry, and I don’t want that.

I guess what I’m saying is that I need to find balance, and I think Niko offers that. First, and foremost, I know her as a person—we have a legit real-world relationship—and I trust her. I know she’d never maliciously hurt the story, and only has the best intentions when she’s making a change. That means a lot—almost more than anything else. Niko’s also very smart and intuitive. She has special insight into the world, and we became friends through philosophy. That might be a perfect Kanye-like recipe. Knowing this about her, I need to let go a little bit. I need to let my baby play with others.

Self-publishing means you’ll get the most honest, best version I am capable of producing. It also means it may not be perfect, because I’m not perfect. Some of you will love the book for that very reason. I know that’s why I love Gardening, Not Architecture. I’m tired of processed art, and I’ll easily forgive Sarah Saturday for not using $10k mics and absurd guest DJ’s. Hopefully Stevie Pearl can capture a little of that magic—give you the feeling that you’re holding something real in your hands.

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