I'm currently in the (hopefully) final round of edits on my YA novel, #famous: the copy-edits. It's a bit of a mind-fuck; you're making these tiny changes, so theoretically they shouldn't be all that big a deal, but you find yourself resisting certain of them anyway. Do I really have a stake in whether numbers are written out or left as numerals? In whether all my characters add the prepositions they need to at the moments they ought to? In keeping, or axing, an ellipsis?
I would have thought the answer was "no, it's fine, I trust your expertise," and it MOSTLY is...until it's "EMPHATICALLY YES, I HAVE ALL THE STAKES IN THIS!"
Thank goodness for "stet."
It's gotten me thinking about the tricky process of taking any advice on your manuscript.
How do you know when someone's advice is the right thing for your book, and when it's that old publishing-world saw, "just one person's opinion?"
There are all kinds of fits-on-a-meme-image suggestions:
"If your first reaction is that it's totally wrong, take the advice."
"Kill your darlings."
"Cut all the fat."
"Edit like a reader."
The problem is, I'm not really sure what any of those things actually mean. (especially the "kill your darlings bit--I'm pretty sure I feel the same way about cutting something when it's a "darling" and when it's "something I'm pretty sure works and/or is necessary to this story," and the idea that I can identify which is which at a glance is...well, ludicrous.)
I know plenty of authors rely on beta readers to tell them what's working and what isn't. But how do you know which of their suggestions are good, and which aren't? Which are issues most readers will have with your book, and which are personal preferences, or just a moment of reading-with-the-TV-on?
How do you know when advice is GOOD advice, and when it's just an opinion?