I have recently edited a few poetry books for fellow poets. I find that most poets, find it hard to edit their own poems and a second opinion is sometimes necessary to get out of their own head. I must admit that I never hired a poetry editor for my three poetry books, but I had a particular vision and look that I knew I wanted for my poems.
If you are looking for a poetry editor or you are editing your poems yourself here are 5 tips that worked for me and how I go about editing poetry books.
- After every draft, you should put your manuscript away for over two weeks and clear your mind. As many times as you go through your manuscript, is as many times you must put it aside. This ensures that you start fresh every time and believe me, every time you read it, you will find something that you need to correct or revise. Do this up until there is nothing left to rewrite. Do not settle until you feel your book is done. Eventually, you will know.
- You can divide your poetry book into sections or parts with titles so that it flows for the reader. Also, a table of contents with the list of poems at the beginning of the book is always helpful to quickly find a poem. Lately, some poets are not using any titles or table of contents…if you choose to do so, make sure that you divide your book into sections such as loss, healing, love, death, etc. so that there is some kind of order. There are not many rules in poetry and anything may go for certain poets, but in my experience, the books that have no titles or breaks are hard to read and difficult to distinguish one poem from the next.
- Every poetry book needs a Copyright page, a Dedication page, Acknowledgements page, at the beginning of the book and an About the Author Page at the end of the book. Number your pages. Look at the poetry books in your library and see how the professionals do it.
- Format, font and presentation are an integral part of a poetry book. Pay an expert to create your file in pdf with the appropriate poetic fonts and alignments. Equally, cover art and a blurb brings the book together as a whole.
- Make sure the poetry editor you hire has experience, knowledge and a grasp of poetic terms.
Good luck in the editing process, this is the hardest part of writing. As Ernest Hemingway wrote, ” The first draft of everything is shit.”