Sunday, June 1, 2014

Between the Bindings with Tricia Kristufek

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you the words of wisdom from not only an author (though she does not call herself that), but from a fellow editor as well.  Now, others have come on here and told you about their editing processes, but she has given some great insight from the editor side of things (or, as I like to say, from the outside looking in). I knew her words would be beneficial to all of you ... And how could I NOT let someone who sends me a picture like that onto my blog?!?! :p

Edits: How to make peace with the red pen and breathe

You've finished your novel - congrats!  You've spent days, weeks, months, years crafting your world and the people in it.  You've had beta readers and gotten feedback from your writing group.  You've sweated, cursed, cried, and laughed, and now your characters are ready to go out into the world.

Wrong.  Now comes the hard part.  It's time for revision.

Even if it's your first book, you know there is value in using an editor.  You've read praise from authors who know the well- done job they do, and horror stories from those who didn't research their editor enough.  So you do some digging, ask your author friends who they'd recommend, and look at editor sites for their style and books they've worked on.  You've corresponded with your chosen editor, sent a sample for them to work on to get a feel for them, and you're ready to commit.

You send your work off and wait.  You sigh with relief.  Then you chew your fingernails.  And wonder.  And worry.

What happens now?

Well, when you get your email back from your editor, you're excited and nervous both at once.  One step closer to either clicking self-pub or having your publisher put you on the presale list.  You click it open only to find...

Your editor has taken your masterpiece and colored all over it.  Red for delete.  Yellow for repetition.  Green for epithets (which you may have to look up, if they didn't leave you a global note).  There's comments about CMoS, ISA, APB, WTF, move this, rewrite this - There's more marked up than there is unmarked.

Your first instinct is to scream.  To cry.  To throw things.  To fire your editor, withdraw your submission from your publisher, burn your manuscript, hide your head under a pillow, and never see the light of day again.  

My suggestion?  Breathe.

Take a deep breath, close the file, and walk away.  Calm down.  It doesn't so anyone any good to attempt to edit in this state.  Have some chocolate, a beer, wine - whatever will put it out of your mind for a bit.  In the morning, come back and open it again.  You'll probably see what you missed when you opened it the first time.

The praise the editor left you.  The little comments like "LOL" and "OMG, that's perfect" that show you where you did it right.  The way the sentence move changed moved it from passive voice to active.  Your use of the phrase "It was when" appeared three times in as many sentences.  That the word "that" was used 1,532 times and your editor decided that 1,402 of them weren't necessary.  

Bottom line?  Trust your editor.

If you've chosen wisely, the story will be tighter, the flow smoother, and the characters more endearing (or hated, if need be).  The plot holes have been cemented over and the ending leaves you in tears (the happy kind).

You see, editors who work for publishers and freelance editors are tested.  They go through training, they study CMoS, they learn the house style, and they practice, practice, practice.  They talk to their coworkers.  They answer author emails.  More importantly, they READ.

They read in genre and out of it.  They read well-known authors and new ones.  They read popular books and books no one has ever heard of.  They often make notes when doing so.  Things that work.  Things that don't work.  How to vary sentence length to achieve impact and create urgency.  How NOT to utilize suspense and give away the ending in the first paragraph.

See, your editor is on YOUR side, on the side of the story.  They aren't trying to take your work, make it their own, or change the idea of it.  Your editor is there to help you become a better writer while improving your story at the same time.  They want to cheer with you when your cover is released, promo your story when it comes out, and cry with you when it hits it big-time.  They WANT you to name the NY Best Seller list.  They WANT you to get a movie contract.  Most importantly, they WANT you to have an excellent book that you're PROUD to promote.  

That's how an editor-author relationship is supposed to work.  You're a team.  Partners.  Sometimes even friends.  You talk to each other, learn about each other's style, and work together to shine your manuscript until it's the best it can be.

And once you find that editor that does all these things, they are worth every penny.

Thank you, Tricia, for that AMAZING advice.  How true!!  Now, I don't usually do this, but I'm going to give you her contact info so you can see if she is the editor that would best fit you.  Just head to her website ( and check her out.

Until next time, y'all ...

1 comment:

Bill Talcott said...

I have a lot of respect for my editor. It can't always be easy facing the writer whose work you've edited. Especially if there are a lot edits the writer must approve. Thank you for all of your hard work, Trish.