The Care and Feeding of Editors
by E. Prybylski
Hiring a professional to edit your book is a big commitment both in terms of money (chances are it will cost you a fair chunk of change) and professionalism. If you have vetted your editor and selected the one you want to work with there are a few things you should consider before working with them. These all assume, of course, that you are hiring a genuine industry professional.
1) You are hiring a professional because they know more than you do.
You do not go to the doctor and ask for a diagnosis then tell the doctor their years of medical school are worthless, and you know more because you read something on the internet. This same principal applies to editors — you are giving us money because we have training, experience, and know more than you.
2) Do not argue with your editor.
You can disagree with them, you can ask questions, but do not argue with your editor. There is never a point where insulting or arguing with your editor is helpful. If you disagree with them there are two courses of action you can take: find another editor who better suits your novel or check your ego and realize they may be right about what they’re saying.
3) Do not expect your editor to change their editing style for you.
If you hire an editor you cannot ask them to just “ignore” things they feel are important to the book. You are asking them to compromise on their professional integrity. We believe in what we do, and are invested in the authors we work with. Expecting us to overlook major problems in your book is like expecting a fisherman to bring back a haul without a net. We cannot do our job if you do not provide us proper tools.
4) Stop telling us “you can get better editing elsewhere for less money”.
If you could get better editing elsewhere for less money you wouldn’t be talking to us. You’d be talking to that other editor. People often make the mistake of thinking editors are not worth the money or should be paid less. We have to eat, too. We have bills and families and student loans, and what we charge you goes to pay those things off. Mechanics charge an average of $80 – $100, and people don’t typically give them that kind of grief.
Properly editing a manuscript is not something any monkey can do, and most of us have gone to college to obtain the education required to do it well. What gives you the right to expect us to compromise our income?
5) Do not tell your editor how to do their job.
There’s nothing worse than a backseat driver. If something your editor does doesn’t work for you, you can ask them questions or make a request, but telling a professional how to do their job is demeaning and rude. It makes you an undesirable client. As with number one on this list, you hired them because you trust their skill and professionalism. Let them work.
6) Editors are not writing instructors.
While most editors I know go out of their way to explain things to clients who may not understand something, your editor is not a writing instructor. They should not have to hold your hand through every step of the process or do the work for you. Unless you’re paying them to, in which case you’ll be shelling a lot more than you would otherwise.
7) Do not send snotty emails.
If you have been dropped by an editor that does not give you license to send them nasty messages, insult them, or otherwise demean their work. There is no purpose to this and it will end up with you developing a bad name in an industry that is surprisingly small. It also makes you a jerk.
E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry since 2010 and has worked for other indie publishers as well as having done private, freelance editing on many books. She has also been involved in typesetting and cover design for multiple novels while in the industry.
When E. is not editing she is writing, doing artwork, and playing violin or cello to entertain her tolerant husband and three cats.
RANDALL’S RULES FOR WRITING
by Randall Andrews
Rules for my writing regimen:
Rule one: Alcohol
Rule two: commitment to 1k a day
Rule three: more alcohol
Rule four: A pretty woman with a good understanding of rule one
Rule five: one script at a time
Rule six: Love some critique groupin’
Rule seven: more of rules one and three
Rule eight: Read the classics
Rule nine: study English, a lot, and often.
Rule ten: Have a plot and find it
Rule eleven: Get on with it, don’t meander
Rule twelve: Oops, out of alcohol, never run out.
Rule thirteen: Never marry a line, kill sacred cows, eliminate verbosity
Rule fourteen: There is no such thing as writer’s block, unless you’re dead.
Rule fifteen: Too much of rule one and rule three and you will experience rule fourteen.
Rule sixteen: Don’t confuse bad writing with your voice.
Rule seventeen: Writing is a profession, not a hobby.
Rule eighteen: Like any profession, you aren’t instantly good; it takes time and dedication to the craft.
Rule nineteen: Understand the 3 act concept and the steps of a thesis, argument, and conclusion.
Rule twenty: drugs do not make you a better writer or more creative. They will help you last longer in bed, have a great time with friends, keep you up all night or make you sleep all day, and often make you eat massive quantities of pizza. They are great for the twenty year old, but not so much for the fifty year old. (Except for that bed one.)
Rule twenty-one: Clean the keyboard of pizza grease.
Rule twenty-two: Give back to other writers. Your ability to share is the wisdom of maturation.
Rule twenty-three: Practice the sandwich method of critique (one slice of bread first, telling them what was good, the meat, what they need to fix, the last piece of bread, ending with something good.) No one likes to be diminished at the start or end of any meeting.
Rule twenty-four: Get out of the house once in awhile and exercise. It’s too easy to sit in a chair all day and be something you’re not. Go out and live your thoughts once in awhile.
Rule twenty-five: EMOTE in your writing. Express universal emotions. Learn that writing isn’t about how different you are, but rather how much alike we all are.
Rule twenty-six: If your work makes you cry, it will make the reader cry.
Rule twenty-seven: Editors are your friends. If you want your work to shine let professional eyes view it.
Rule twenty-eight: An editor’s job is to tighten up your writing and fix your errors, not rewrite it. If they do that, they are off your friend’s list! (Don’t worry if it needs being rewritten you are probably off their friend’s list too)
Rule twenty-nine: The first line sells your book; the last line sells the next book. Make every word mean something.
Rule thirty: You are only a writer when you are writing. When you aren’t writing, like during those half year sabbaticals, you are not a writer.
Randall Andrews grew up in the Pacific Northwest and came to Los Angeles as a seasoned editor, landing a job in Hollywood editing with stints in copywriting, scriptwriting, novel writing, and teaching creative writing. The former president of SW Manuscripters, he’s had the opportunity to write with and edit some of the finest writers in the Los Angeles area.
He keeps himself busy with studio work, a small by line with a newspaper, freelance editing, submission editing for a publisher, his own personal novels, and ghost writing projects. He runs an online room and instructs a weekly critique group in Glendale, California.
His profession is writing and it isn’t a hobby. He has one son living in the Pacific Northwest who has made him a grandfather, and he has four young sons with his wife where they live in the hills above Los Angeles.
HOW TO SUBMIT FOR CRITIQUE
by Angela L. Lindseth
You’ve toiled away at the keyboard. You’ve come up with a spectacular piece, but you’ve never submitted to a critique group. The thought of it makes you queasy because you’ve been lurking, you know it’s a harsh world under the microscope, people with their passive construction this, gerund that. I’ve come up with a few suggestions for the virgins out there.
1. Post something other than your precious. To me, this is the most important, that’s why it’s first. Sure, you want to shout to the world, “I wrote this!” but if it’s not up to snuff, you will be too hurt to absorb the lessons we’re trying to teach.
2. Make it short. Short fiction pieces are all the rage these days. Writing tight, concise paragraphs makes you focus on individual topics. Yesterday I posted a 190 word piece, and it amazed me how much I learned about something I thought I had a handle on.
3. Keep it simple. Don’t aim for elegance your first try by using flowery speech. Verbosity is a bane of existence of many writers. Using a lot of words doesn’t make you a good writer, but it might make you a better editor.
4. Polish it, and then polish it some more. Don’t post something you know has problems. Why would you do that? Use every skill you have to eliminate the imperfections, because if you know there are errors, we will find them, and we will comment on them. To get the full benefit of the critique, use the rules you know. Later, when you have a larger piece, you can ask about flow and plot holes. First, let’s get you writing using the rules (and there are a lot of rules.)
5. Don’t get philosophical. This is a soft advice, and it has some wiggle room. In my opinion, essays of this type tend to lead critiquers away from the goal of critiquing, and the post ends up so far off-topic you can’t find you way back
6. Finally, just do it. You will never know where you stand on the learning curve if you don’t try.
Angela L. Lindseth
Angela L. Lindseth grew up in South Dakota on the family homestead. She has a geological engineering degree and a journeyman electrician license; however, thanks to her beautiful sister, Angela is writing full time.
She has finished Tower of Earth, a young adult fantasy, which is the first book in the Towers of Rejaque series. She writes a wide variety of flash fiction, including speculative, horror, and retrospective and belongs to several critique groups that help her hone her skills. For a taste of her work visit the Eat Sleep Write Teen Bookshelf and her Facebook author page.
Angela has two handsome boys, a cat named Rex, and a beagle named River, who is the love of her life.
‘I write tight flash fiction that tiptoes along the edge of the extreme and tantalizes the shadows of the mind. I create worlds to explore and incite curiosity to meld with imagination, often under the influence of wine.’ –Angela