This past Tuesday, I wrote a post called Build An Editor. In it, I asked what you, as a writer, wanted in or expected of an editor. A lot of you wrote interesting, detailed comments. Most seemed to agree they wanted an editor to do it all, but not totally change their words. You wanted an editor to catch big and small mistakes - change small mistakes but leave comments or suggestions on big ones. And just about everyone seemed to want an editor to work with them so that they would grow as a writer and learn from their mistakes. And you wanted an editor to stay with you from first edit through query letter.
Some of you who’ve been visiting Straight From Hel for a while know the kind of work I do. If not, you can link over and read a back and forth Q&A between me and author Sylvia Dickey Smith. Plus, I have a page on my website about my editing services.
But…I did say in the Build An Editor post that I would tell you about what I do as an editor. And I’ll say upfront that I don’t think I’m all that different from other editors.
When I get a manuscript, I begin reading. I tend to read about 20 pages, then take a break, then continue. Unlike some editors who make no edits on the first read-through, I do mark things and make comments. I try to catch the smallest things, like two spaces between sentences instead of one, medium things like sentences that don’t make sense, and big things like a character who has no arc. Small things like spacing or repeated words, I’ll change. A beginning that’s too slow, I comment on and sometimes give suggestions as to how it could start or where in the manuscript the book really should begin.
When I finish the manuscript, I set it aside for at least a day, then I begin another read-through. I do three read-throughs before I send it back to the author.
Although I’ve never had an author ask for their money back, I never cash their check until the manuscript is sent back to them.
Cashing the check does not mean the partnership is over, as far as I’m concerned. I’m considering that writer as “my author,” just as I hope they consider me “their editor.”
If she works on areas where I noted problems and wants me to look at it again, I do. If he does a big rewrite and wants to send the entire revised manuscript back for another read, I will. If she gets it polished and is ready to start querying, she can send me the query letter. I’ve discussed possible agents with some of my authors. Some have called with follow-up questions. A lot have hired me for their second or third book.
But as I said earlier, I don’t think I’m all that different from other editors. If you’re looking for someone to work with you on your book, do some research and then talk to your top 3 or 4 choices. Find someone you’re compatible with and who will do what you need them to do. Look at it as a long-term relationship and find someone you can work with over the long haul.
4 months ago