Monday, April 25, 2011

The Editor–Author Relationship : From the Starting Shot to the Finish Line

Someone once asked me what I liked about editing. I had to think for a moment before I answered. Once I put my ideas together, I discovered it’s hard to put those feelings into words without sounding presumptuous. Why? Because I’ve never received a manuscript that I didn’t believe I couldn’t enrich. And what I mean is not just that “I” personally could perfect it. No, it’s that “anyone” in general can usually find something inside every manuscript to correct or improve upon, no matter how many times you read it.

Anyone who’s been in a critique group, or who has ever written anything themselves, knows that every time you review something you think of another way to say the same thing. (Just like this BLOG. Given time, I could rewrite it over and over again and never be totally satisfied. I’m doing it right now—changing words each time I spell check it. Argh!)

·       Is it better this way or that?
·       Had you already written it that way once before?
·       Do you have the emphasis on just the right words?

The questions go on and on, the analysis of each sentence and each punctuation mark becomes an agonizing quest, and the word choices are even worse. You type the words “The End” almost in self-defense. Everything must have an inevitable ending—writing your manuscript, revising it, editing it, and finally producing it. Misstep along the way and the next step can’t be taken.
With each manuscript, the editor is the one encouraging the author to take those steps, to make the move from point “A” to point “B” without being too quick about it, and to yet still move forward in a positive direction.

Once the book is formatted and comes back in galley form, it’s time to take off your creative hat and put on your glasses. This is the time for details not creative changes; all those misplaced modifiers should already be put in their places. Now is the time to search and destroy extra spaces, commas in place of periods, an instead of and, extra lines, or missing words. What the copy editor or spell check didn’t catch ends up in your lap.

Crossing the finish line with all your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed comes down to you, the author, to do that final inspection. I guess what I like is that from submission to sales, we are your advocates, the ones cheering for your success like a parent with a child, like a partner or a teammate, and then we’re with you at the finish line ready to high five you when those awesome reviews come in heralding your newest creation as the best book ever.

What I like most about editing is being a small part of each book I edit. It's as satisfying as doing anything creative on my own. And there’s always the side benefit of getting to read so many fantastic books.
( Ah, those words are in self-defense; I do have a few books to go edit. GRIN )

Frances Sevilla
Faery Rose Editor & Cheerleader


LaVerne Clark said...

Where would we be without you guys cheering us on?!

I love the editor/writer relationship. The editor has just as much invested in the story, but can step back when necessary, suggesting things that are always spot on to make the story even better.

Happy editing!!

Frances Sevilla said...

I think the collaboration between editor and author is a wonderful experience. Recently I was able to meet with a couple of my authors at the Romantic Times Conference and they are fantastic!


Sarah_Faery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah_Faery said...

Well said, Frances!

Jannine Gallant said...

Getting that second opinion is critical. My editors tell me what I do right and what could be better. They also tell me when it's time to stop making changes. We writers couldn't do what we do nearly as well without you guys!

allywildrose said...

So true, Frances. It is a fantastic experience to work with an author and see the book through to the end when it spreads its wings and flies into the world on its own. :-) I also feel a little part of me is in every book I've edited.

Cherie Marks said...

I love the idea of having a cheerleader, especially one who's making me look good.

Thanks for what you do to make the story even better.

Kelly McCrady said...

I always say I'm the "proud auntie" of every book I edit, and I truly feel that. I cheer and squee when my author's books get good reviews, try to always remember to send a note on release day, post a blurb, excerpt and cover art on my own author blog.

My passion is making sure readers will see the author's vision the way it was meant, to polish the manuscript until it shines. Whether that means a well-placed comma ("I'd like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God," anyone?) or a radical revision of point of view in whole scenes, I'm happy to take on the task. Editing your own writing is impossible, so we all should welcome the help of editors' eyes and experience.

Roni said...

Its a special team here between author, editor and publisher. The better we work together, the better the finished product.

Barbara said...

I think it's often too easy to forget that editors are our "fairy godmothers" and our first champions!

I love the careful and thoughtful reading of my manuscripts.

Barbara Plum aka Allie Hawkins ~ PRESUMED GUILTY ~ TWRP