Professional Book Editor
Welcome. This site is for you who write story, whether fiction or non-fiction. Time spent in writing is like that of a hermit, but often without much of any contentment of solitude. It’s plain damn lonely. My purpose is to offer some relief from the essentially unsocial enterprise that you’ve chosen. I use the term “editor” to mean that, as well as “writing consultant” and “writing coach.”
THE VALUE OF AN EDITOR
Many creative writers want to attempt the New York publishing route for their novels or try to sell their scripts to a big Hollywood production company. But few have clout with acquisitions editors or producers promising to buy their work. For the majority of these writers the odds of “hitting it big”—even with a good agent—are marginally better than being Grammy-nominated for an air guitar instrumental. So I’m not going to tell you that an editor will significantly improve the chances of getting your work sold. I will state that the input of a good editor can help you improve what you’ve written. Maybe you’ll sell, maybe you’ll self-publish or shoot your own low budget movie. In any event, if you want to make what you’ve written possibly the best it will be (and what writer doesn’t?), hire an editor.
WHEN IN THE WRITING PROCESS AN EDITOR CAN BE HELPFUL?
At the beginning.
If a writer has only the loosest hold on a concept, with just a couple of vaguely conceived characters in mind, an editor as consultant can be of help at the ground floor level, joining with the author in formulating plot structure, giving shape to characters, and generally helping to kick-start a writer’s inspiration.
In the midsection.
If a writer is stuck down the line, an editor can work with her or him to help clear a viable story line path. This is most common in the second act of a play or script, or in the middle (commonly called “the muddle”) of a novel. Characterizations need to deepen and plot should build. Toward the center of longer stories the writing can become as swaybacked as a tired old dray horse.
After the original draft.
When a first pass is completed and the author feels that there’s something lacking, but is unsure of what’s needed, an editor can help find a “spine” in the story to give it stronger direction, more energy.
Before heading to market.
A final red pen line editing, including word, phrase, and dialogue change suggestions, can help make a story shine its brightest.
WHEN TO BEWARE OF AN EDITOR
Editors, being human, make mistakes. The following live mistakenly:
Wannabe writers. Editors who vicariously “take over” authors’ works in progress rather than risk diving into the creative pool with their own original projects. They claim literary expertise as badge of privilege while they try to hog in on their clients’ talent and hard efforts.
Control freaks. Editors who savage writers’ bravely earned chapters or acts until there seems to be more red ink on pages than black. They’re insistent that their edits should be written in stone, in denial of the truth that writers have sole authorship of their work.
Con artists. Editors who imply that fortified with their input a writer’s work will most likely sell. This can be the most seductive assurance to a new writer—until the dawning realization that one has been taken in by something he or she so wanted to believe.
If an editor’s primary purpose is anything but honoring an author’s intent in the art and craft of story development, that editor is toxic.