Book editing is a service provided to published authors and authors who want to be published, including house authors and self-publishing authors. Every author can benefit from working with a book editor.
What a Book Editor Does
What does a book editor do? A book editor above all else attempts to add value to the author’s work. That can vary from uncovering plot holes, to discovering typos or other misspellings, to observing inconsistencies, to finding opportunities to expand or contract the narrative in ways that make a good story or other work even better. Authors should look at the book editor as a resource, not a hindrance. Certainly, not an adversary.
And book editors work with veteran authors as well as new authors.
The important thing is that an author and a book editor work together for the good of the project. In the way that I work as a book editor, I view the author as my client. It’s his or her story or work, and my goal is to help make it as good and salable as possible. I ask questions, offer my input, make suggestions, and if the job includes copy editing, make corrections. Then it’s up to the author to accept or reject what I offer. We collaborate and work in concert to discuss it in a way that we hope brings us to consensus rather than confrontation. And in so doing, we create a work we can both be proud of and that makes for the author a selling book.
My Book Editing Process
What has proved successful is a first reading to take in the essence of the work. Then I comment on the work, its strengths and weaknesses from a reader’s perspective, and make any suggestions that I think might make it a better story. I may ask questions that might help me better understand the work or why the author wrote it the way it was written. There may be “ticks” in the author’s writing style that impede the narrative that I may suggest working around, as well. And I may make suggestions that will save the author money when we get to the copy editing phase.
After the first reading, sometimes the author will send portions of rewrites for me to read, to see if they overcome issues. And it’s possible the author will want me to re-read the whole book again to ensure the book covers all the issues we have discussed. From this additional reading may come more observations and suggestions.
Ultimately, the readings usually lead to copy editing. No author should be ashamed of having their work copy edited. Everyone makes typos and unintentional misspellings. Authors are very close to their works and grammatical mistakes creep in, even though they are exceptional authors. And sometimes assumptions are made that turn out to be untrue. Plot holes develop beyond the author’s ability to anticipate them — it often takes a fresh eye to spot them. And consistency can be difficult to maintain through the thread of a long narrative or work, especially when it takes a long time to write a project. Often it takes someone who hasn’t spent so long on a project to spot them. And sometimes someone with broader experience copy editing will catch things an author won’t.
Let’s face it, writing is an art. In some ways it’s also a science, when you consider the rules of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The same goes for editing. The art comes in knowing how to artfully apply the science. Authors often pay more attention to the art and editors often pay more attention to the science. I try to work with both.
Who I Am as a Book Editor
And when I play the role of book editor, I also try to play the role of the reader, of which I have much experience. You can’t be much of an author or an editor if you aren’t much of a reader. Knowing what you like as a reader, knowing what works for you as a reader, helps guide you as an author and as an editor. I read a mixture of works, in no particular order: biographies, science, science fiction, mysteries, travel adventures, fantasy, thrillers, speculative fiction, young adult, general fiction, general non-fiction. If it is well written and the story has an unusual twist, interesting characters, and a solid plot or compelling theme, I will usually read it. I like variety, which makes me ideal to work with a variety of authors.
It also helps that I was once a bookseller in an independent bookstore. I got to know books, how they’re published, and how to market books very well. And I have a book review site, where I share my opinions on the books that I have read.
In addition, I was a professional writer and editor and an assistant copy editor for many decades.
What Do You Need As an Author?
What can I do for you as an author? Contact me and we can discuss your needs. In the least, I can review your book and comment. We can discuss opportunities for the work. And I can copy edit it, even proofread it. I can do as much or as little as you think you need done.