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sunday, september 30, 2012

Taking Stock; And On the Role of an Editor

September gone and me just getting to blog. Meantime the September eBook stats should be up soon. Pretty exciting with Carl Waldman's, Streetscape: a Jake Soho Mystery, and Lorna Tychostup's, Tales from the Revolution having also been recently released. Four eBooks--not bad for a first year eBooking! They say if a press has more than nine books a year it is no longer an Indie.

Maybe next year.

The Green Tomatoes Novelist Runoff has brought in fewer applicants than anticipated. Not sure why. Is the Green Tomatoes appellation too heavy to handle? I thought it would be fun and eye catching. Perhaps I misjudged. Or perhaps they are waiting until October 14th.

Or is it that writers cringe at the notion of others editing and designing their book? And yet they do not feel confident enough to just submit it and say here it is in PDF and ready to go. No design or editing needed. Perhaps unlike me, they could write and design and needed no editor. Or perhaps a friend on the Q.T. has been the answer. Or several of them. So why not submit? Why not chance the opportunity to publish free? ALVA would love to receive a book ready to go!

The first time it came home to me that even the best of writers may suffer the need for editors was when I read James A. Mitchener's The Novel. In it, Lukas Yoder endures the hardship of the rewrite, goaded forward in that endeavor by the support of his long time editor, Yvonne Marmelle. Yoder, the main character and author of a well-received series of historical novels passes much of the summer alone working on the rewrite while his wife provides him sustanance and protects him from interruption and distraction. Perhaps Mitchener's The Novel was what sent me searching frantically for an editor--and lucky I was to find as kind a thorough a one as I did. Without her, Jolt: a rural noir would probably still be not much more than a pile of papers.

Now I do believe that writers who have not worked with an editor may view the use of one as something like hiring an English teacher to correct ones papers. Wrong.

A good editor is first and foremost a good reader. Secondly a good editor is not afraid to share his or her thoughts. And while a part of the task may be talking about the use of a comma or a verb, most of it for me was having my editor--the reader--share with me her responses to what I had written."This needs to be clearer," she'd say. Or "I'm not sure where this scene takes place." Or "There seems to be no motivation for this action." And other such insightful comments.

I believe that when an effective editor is through, the writer should come to see his or her work as a reader might. Because of that the writer then can be more assured that what he or she has written, a reader will understand.

However, at no point does the editor become the writer--but remains always and only, the reader. 

Before Jolt: a rural noir was passed to my editor, some seven people had read it and given me feedback as to their thoughts on it and how it might be improved. Because of them I had gained the courage to share it with an editor who was a professional. However it was then that the real work began. 

You see, I had much to learn, and as Jolt: a rural noir is a densely written, heavily researched novel it may have needed more coddling than some to mature into the book it is. As such, before I was done, I had rewritten it five times.

Note, I say I.

Not my editor.

Roberta in Po-Town, Watchin' the mail


6:29 pm edt          Comments

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