Friday, July 1, 2016

The Editorial Paragon

It's once again that time of year in the Pacific Northwest - amazing shows as the light dies at 10PM. We don't always get killer sunsets, but when we do, they make up for lost time. Entire showy epics crammed into a half an hour. It's one of the things about this latitude that I value - the between times last for damned ever. Twilight is measured in hours in the summer. So is dawn. The fact that I love that probably means I fall on some kind of pathological scale somewhere.

This week, (since I missed last week - I am SO sorry) we're talking up editors. I absolutely advocate for finding and clinging to a good editor. Because:

  1. A good editor will call you on your bullshit. Let's be honest. When I write, I am so close to a story. It's my baby. I am incapable of objectively looking at it and saying aloud, "Man, you ugly." So I pay someone who will point out the misshapen arc. The half-formed character. The utter and appalling lack of conflict in that scene near the end.
  2. HOWEVER. A good editor will also point out what's good in my work, what's working. This isn't just me needing ego stroking. Though pets are nice. The markers of what works gives me sign posts by which I can fix what doesn't work.
  3. A good editor will occasionally make suggestions - "Hey, I think you knew what you meant in this scene, and I think this scene is complete in your head. It just didn't make it to paper. I could see adding x, y, and/or z. What do you think?"
  4. A good editor communicates in a way that I can process (now, granted, it is incumbent upon me to be professional and easy to work with - no histrionics, no diva-ing. Everything is in service to making a story better.) This requirement is 100% subjective. Only you know when you're in the communication groove with someone, but it is worth pursuing. You should never wonder what it is an editor wants when you're going through your dev edit notes.
So how do you find such a paragon? Ask who edits the books you like. I found the developmental editor for Damned If He Does (did I mention that's available for preorder and comes out July 19??) via Jeffe. I'd seen the editorial work this editor had done on Jeffe's books and I liked the things she called out. So when the time came, I asked for a referral. Author loops are another great place to get suggestions for editors who know your genre and your market. Then it becomes a question of checking websites, emailing back and forth, and getting a sense of how well you understand one another via the written word (since 99% of all communication will be in email or in an editorial letter.)

And once everything is said and done, don't forget to credit your editor. It's often a thankless job, telling writers the baby needs a makeover.


  1. This seems like an excellent time to shout out to Deborah Nemeth, the editor of whom we speak! She rocks amazingly hard. :-)

    1. There you go. I wasn't 100% clear on the ethics of outing Deb. :D She's fabulous. She's knowledgeable. And she's thorough.