Seriously. There are all these delusions about what we do. . . . We all have them.
They begin as we think that because we took English classes and own enough books to open our own bookstore, that qualifies us to write.
If that happens to be with a traditional publisher, then once we have picked ourselves off the floor, exhausted and happy, we get to know THE EDITOR.
A good editor is very different from a critique partner or beta reader.
A good editor has already loved the book and advocated for it to other editors and people on the acquisition panel, who needed to be convinced the book could sell, first to bookstores and libraries, and eventually to readers. The editor, along with the acquisition panel and the team, have a vision of how that can best be assured, and how well the book can sell.
Now a good editor has to set out to make that a reality.
As an author, your first hint of this comes via the EDITORIAL LETTER. This is a single spaced document where THE EDITOR takes a couple pages or so to tell you what she loves about the book and what is working, or what she understood from the book, and then tells you the big picture things that need to be changed. Depending on the publication schedule and the timing, you may have anywhere from ten days to a month to make these changes. Welcome to the grown up world--that time when you could work on a manuscript for five or six years, or five or six months? Over.
Then come LINE EDITS. Line edits can range from a few marks every few pages to a few unmarked words every few pages. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but . . . Again, you may have ten days to a month.
Here's the thing though. Between the EDITORIAL LETTER AND LINE EDITS, a good editor manages to:
- Ask questions that help ensure that what is in the author's head is actually on the page for the reader to see.
- Force the author, often kicking and screaming, to dig deep, understand the story, understand every aspect and element of the story, and understand how all those elements best come together.
- Distill the story, characters, and themes to a format and structure that best conveys what the author wants to say.
- Orchestrate the story so that the story, characters, and other elements best work together so that they help convey what was in the author's heart.
- Clarify the language so that it communicates the story most poignantly and appropriately, and at a pace that will keep readers reading.
A GOOD EDITOR doesn't TELL the author how to do any of those things. Nope. A GOOD EDITOR is a master of psychology and subtleness.
A GOOD EDITOR has discernment, a sharp and questioning mind, and most of all, tremendous patience. All while she is overworked and juggling manuscripts from a dozen or more other authors.
A GOOD EDITOR is worth her weight in gold.
Yep, you guessed it. I just sent off my revision of PERSUASION to my EXCELLENT EDITOR at 4:00 o'clock this morning. I'm a little punch drunk, but damn, I'm proud of this one.
And now I sit back and wait . . .
WANT TO WIN A BOOK?
Snow Like Ashes
by Sara Raasch
Balzer + Bray
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
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