Editing, Meaningless Drivel, My Thoughts

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Freelance Editors. Okay, Just 13 Things.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t particularly like numbered-list blogposts. They just feel artificial to me. So…um…here’s one about editors. Sorry.

1. We edit because we love books and writers but also for the money.

2. It’s a good thing we love books and writers. (And Ramen noodles.)

3. We don’t laugh with maniacal glee while slicing and dicing our way through your manuscript. We know how hard it is to write, and how much harder still it is to share that writing with a virtual stranger – especially someone whose job it is to find all the things that don’t work. We do, however, cringe and swear a lot. This is not because we hate you. It’s because we like you and want you to succeed and are frustrated because you aren’t there yet. (Or may never get there. Yeah. We do think that about some of you. Thankfully “there” is a subjective place that doesn’t necessarily mean lack of publishing success.)

4. We have nightmares about your stories. Sometimes this is because the story is scary. Sometimes it’s because the writing is.

5. We fall in love with some of your characters. The best ones move into our brains, just down the street from Katniss and Hermione.

6. We drink a lot of [coffee, tea, Diet Coke, wine, whiskey]. Pick one. Or five.

7. We understand and fully endorse the health benefits of a standing desk. We sit anyway.

8. We frequently feel invisible. How often do you hear published authors talking up their editors? Yeah, it happens. Just not very often. We’re mostly okay with this, because we sincerely welcome an author’s success. But every once in a while we’d like to be recognized for the role we play.

9. We read a lot. Not just the manuscripts you send us, but also the books that pile up on our virtual and/or actual nightstands. Reading good books is how we get better as editors. Yes, I know. It’s how you get better as writers, too. See? We’re not so different.

10. We do our level best to know and wear your writing voice when editing so the notes and changes not only resonate with you, they sound like you. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible, like when you haven’t written enough to establish a voice yet.

11. Once in a while we get things wrong. Editing isn’t a science; it’s an art. We have off days just like you do. Listen to our advice, consider it carefully, but don’t ignore your own inner editor. Because it’s your book. We’re just trying to make it your best book.

12. There is no twelve. I deleted it because it didn’t add anything to the narrative. Sometimes we do this with your manuscript too.

13. We respect you a lot. But we respect your story just a little bit more. Don’t take it personally.

10 thoughts on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Freelance Editors. Okay, Just 13 Things.

  1. I think editors are the best thing that happened to writers. You definitely don’t get enough credit. There should be an International Editors Recognition Day.

  2. I am in the midst of working my way through my editor’s comments. I occasionally cringe (how could I have written that drivel?) and sometimes I disagree, but most of the time I am profoundly grateful for the time and effort my editor put into making my work better.

    1. Whenever I encounter drivel in my own writing I blame illiterate elves who apparently get their kicks out of messing with brilliance. Then I look in the mirror and see an illiterate elf. This is a humbling experience.

  3. I’m in the process of second drafting my first book and finding that pretty much every comment I read from my editor leads to me saying ‘well duh, how did I miss/write that?’
    So far it feels like an editor is essential, at the very least to hold up a mirror and make you see your book again.
    Handy to know about the noodles. I had pictured you surrounded by coffee with bacon and chocolate snacks, but now I can add noodle-based goodness into the image 🙂
    Thanks

    1. Yeah, the thing about those Ramen noodles…it’s not that we want to eat them, it’s just that you can get like a thousand packages for under ten bucks. So we have to. Plus, we can get our annual recommended sodium requirement in every meal. [Clutches chest. Falls to the floor. Turns to salt. The end.]

  4. Yes it’s right, we write because we love you and make to the best present for you. Writing need to work harder, it’s not easy job but need many time and lots of learning….
    thank you.

  5. Editors are definitely underrated, as are all those people behind the scenes in any undertaking. You are priceless and the catalyst to success for so many other people. Stand proud.

  6. So brilliant, heartening, and devastating too, to read a writer’s editor, in his own voice.

  7. Something about number 13 seems quite fitting. I don’t know if I would want it the other way around. Like, a writer’s ‘baby’ is in good hands. A derpy teenage baby that needs to think about moving out, and only an editor can help it.

    Thanks for the good read, even if it is an old post.

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