Editing, Snark Alert

What To Do When You Get Your Editorial Memo

Ping. An email just arrived. The one you’ve been waiting for. The one you’ve been dreading. The subject line is three words long. Your editorial memo! The exclamation mark almost makes those words seem benign. Cute, even. But you know what the words are hiding. Red ink. Six weeks ago you sent your finished manuscript (the seventh draft, if you don’t count the first five) to your editor. And now it’s back. With notes. Comments. Suggestions. Demands. What’s a writer to do? Here. I’ll help. Step 1: Stare at the email without opening it for at least 10 minutes or…

Read More

Editing, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized, Writing tips

Listen Carefully, Your Manuscript Stinks

Your manuscript doesn’t speak English. (Or American. Or Australian. Or Esperanto. Or whatever you call your native tongue.) It speaks Manuscript. This is why all the threats you sling at it in your native tongue go unheeded. (Well, that, and the fact that it doesn’t like being threatened. It can read your tone even if it doesn’t understand your words.) And while yelling at your manuscript may help release existential angst (Cue “Shout” by Tears for Fears), increased volume still doesn’t result in increased comprehension. When you’re having a novel crisis, it could be simply because your novel is truly…

Read More


When to Ignore Your Editor

I’m not a member of any elite editorial clubs. I don’t dine with editors who have touched the Manuscripts of the Gods. I don’t have an MFA or a PhD or a WtF in Writing/Editing/Pontificating. I don’t play tambourine in an all-editorial band and I haven’t been contacted by the The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or NPR to do an interview on what it’s like to walk with literary giants or play the tambourine in an all-editorial band. So please feel free to take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt. Or a…

Read More

Editing, General

How To Be a Good Editor

Ever wanted to be an editor? No? That’s probably wise. But just in case all your other options suddenly fall through (ie: the bowling alley installs an automatic pinsetter, the crash test dummy program stops accepting applications from humans, the professional dog walker eliminates her “Assistant Dog Walker In Charge Solely of Scooping Poop” position), here are some tips on how to be a good one. (If, perchance, you would rather be a bad editor, just do the opposite of what I suggest. And good luck with that.) Be selective. Edit the books you love; work with writers you like.…

Read More