Editor-Author Love


Dear readers,

After fixing some issues processing CSS in Mac OSX Mountain Lion, I can see the pages of my blog once more. (Actually, I finally fixed my Windows 7 partition and I’m using that instead, but a win’s a win).

As some of you may know, I’ve recently been editing manuscripts for a certain large romance publisher. It’s been an excellent experience for me, and—on the whole—a great pleasure to work with a number of established and aspiring authors of the genre. Having previously had limited exposure to romance, I found myself genuinely impressed by the variety of ‘boy meets girl (insert sex scene), boy loses girl (insert angry sex scene), boy and girl reconcile (insert happy sex scene)’ narratives I’ve helped polish.

We’re talking gladiatorial romance, broken-family romance, greek magnate romance, supernatural (think ‘lunar’) romance, and some good ol’ bodice-rippers of the old style.

The only issue I ever had was with the definition of the editor’s role in the author-editor process.  My purview was to perform a light edit on each manuscript, but I found myself exceeding this role on a few occasions. On the most extreme of these occasions, the author wanted to re-insert three-quarters of the suggested cuts/edits, insert over eight thousand new words, and then offered over two hundred suggestions in the final round—a round usually reserved for fixing punctuation and basic grammatical errors only—from both the author and a member of the author’s family.

Note: The editing process usually involves two rounds. The editor copy-edits the manuscript, adds their queries, then sends it to the author. The author accepts or queries the changes and sends them back. This back-and-forth occurs once more. Their may be a final round where the editor looks over the manuscript for remaining punctuation/grammatical issues and cleans up any outstanding issues. This is a standard edit. A light edit would be completed in one round, a heavy may involve further rounds and also focus on structural issues (chapter ordering etc.)

Now…to those not too familiar with the industry, there’s always a deadline. Pushing past that deadline is never a good thing. If an author requests this, there’s usually a fairly major problem with the manuscript; if there isn’t, the manuscript should be cleaned up as best as possible and sent on its way. The author in question obviously suffered from a lack of industry knowledge and merely wanted to help improve their work, but didn’t know to ask about the process. Instead, they just assumed; in this instance, their assumptions were unreasonable.

So, to any prospective published authors out there, I offer a few simple rules to follow that’ll smooth out the process for you:

  • Until it appears otherwise, assume Your Editor has your best interests at heart.
  • Assume Your Editor has other projects. They’ll spend as much time as they can on yours. Communication is an important part of making sure the time they have to offer you is fully-utilised.
  • Be aware of the process. If you’re unsure, ask Your Editor or do a little reading. Knowledge is power.
  • Feel free to say no to Your Editor: if they ‘strongly advise’ you against doing something though, think up an alternative. Your work will evolve throughout the process; it will not look exactly the same at the end. This is inevitable.
  • Make sure you manage your side of the process and get your manuscript back to your ‘other half’ on time.  If Your Editor is  juggling other works and you get yours back to them too late, don’t be surprised when they have to push back your own project in favour of another.
  • Utilise their knowledge.
  • Discuss; try not argue.
  • Thank them at the end. It’s only fair. They’ll thank you, too.

As Albert Camus once wrote, ‘There is scarcely any passion without struggle’.

Until next time,

2 thoughts on “Editor-Author Love

  1. Great post. I’m really happy for (and envious of) you for getting into this line of work. Think your work ethic is top-notch, and I wish you all the best with these edits. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  2. Thanks, toconnell88. I never thought I’d be working in the romance sector, but it’s turned out to be a good fit.

    I’m writing another post at the moment, and pose the question: ‘Is “said” dead?’ Check back soon.

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