Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where's The Beef?

Pardon the title. I saw an I Love The 80's Show recently and now, stuck like duct tape to my frontal lobe is THIS:

You're welcome.

I sort of wanted to title this post A Love Letter To My Editor, but she prefers me to show my love to her with baked goods and squeezable chickens. Which is fine. I prefer love via baked goods and squeezable chickens too. It's one of the many reasons we're a good match.

The true point of this post, though is this: Do you really need an editor?

I've seen both sides of the debate on this. There's the "Everyone needs a professional editor!" camp. And there's the "Editors take over your work and make it their own thereby stamping out all freedom of creativity!" camp. And plenty of people in between.

So, do YOU need an editor?

I can't answer that for you, any more than I could tell you if you need a literary agent, or if you should self-publish or hold out for a deal from a traditional publisher. Those are personal decisions based on what you want out of your career, and what you feel is best for you.

I can, however, tell you why, even though I'll be self-publishing my adult urban fantasy novels, I will never put a book out without working closely with a good editor. I turn in really clean drafts. In fact, one of the editors I spoke to when I was looking at offers for DEFIANCE told me the draft was publishable as is. If so, why use an editor?

Because there's a gap between publishable and HOLY COW AWESOME.

A good editor knows how to equip you to close that gap.

Having gone through two rounds of edits on the "publishable as is" DEFIANCE, I can say with confidence that gap has lessened. Will you read my book and decide it's HOLY COW AWESOME? I don't know. That's between you and my book. But I'm so pleased with the revisions I would probably lick the manuscript in public given half the chance.

So, how did  my editor equip me to close that gap? Did she tell me what to write? Take over the scenes and insert her own ideas?


She simply pushed me. Asked me tough questions.(Please note she has yet to highlight a section of my manuscript and ask "Where's the Beef?" but after this post, I expect that situation to be remedied.) She pointed out plot holes or pacing issues. Gave me feedback on the various story arcs. And then sat back and let me ruminate on it all until I could SEE how to fix and polish and perfect the story. My way.

Always my way.

My editor treats me and my story with respect. Part of that respect means she recognizes that I have the chops to really push this story to its full potential. Another part of that respect means if she questions something, and I say "No, it stays this way because ...", she listens. Because it's my story. Always my story.

She's there to help me make it the story I always meant to write in the first place.

Having that push, those tough questions, and that feedback from someone as committed as I am to making DEFIANCE the best it can be has been invaluable, and I'll never send a manuscript out into the world without it. It makes me a better writer.

So, do YOU need an editor? I don't know. But I do know if you decide the answer is yes, you should hold out for one who not only "gets" your story, but who respects you and your vision for your book and simply seeks to push you to make your original vision an amazing reality.


  1. I think editors are 100% worth it. Like you, my editor took a 'this is great' MS to 'omg, I'd lick you in public' MS. Patient, helpful, creative, and clever without being bossy or argumentative because she understood it's mine to screw up as I please if I ignored her advice :-)

    I'm definitely in the 'you need one' camp.

  2. I want to attach myself to your leg and let you carry me around. That's how HOLY COW MADE OF AWESOME you are.

  3. Any particular reason you decided to self-publish? I thought that once you'd become a runaway success in the YA market, some publisher would come banging on your door begging you to be the next Lilith SaintCrow.

  4. Writer - I've been thinking about this for a long time, and have a list of reasons for why I think the two series I have on hand would be a good fit for self-pub. I might do a blog post on those reasons closer to release date, but I won't be self-pubbing until 2013, after DEFIANCE releases, so we'll see. If some publisher comes knocking down my door, excited to publish my adult series, I will evaluate what they can do for me that I can't do for myself. Right now, I'm pretty excited about the thought of being in control of those two series through self-publishing. :)

  5. Yup. I need and want an editor and I'm proud to say it. :)

  6. Fantastic post. I feel really, really grateful to have this kind of relationship with my editor too.

  7. I believe good editing in itself is an art form. There are gifted eyes out there that can bring a MS up many levels.


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