We’re getting together the new anthology, AURORA. Editing is a big part of its assembly.
Editing is different all-together, in my mind, from proofreading, though both are important in their way.
Proofreaders look for mistakes–misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, style points. It’s not the most enervating job you’re ever gonna do, but it is vital to the finished project.
Editing is usually thought of as cutting, as if when you wrote you made a dress that was too big for the client, and now you have to cut two sizes off of it, bluntly, and with your scissors. And when you cut it down you are going to lose the very lovely bird that was woven into the fabric at just the right spot to hit the shoulder of the dress. Couldn’t the client just get fatter?
Editing, though, is not really about cutting. It’s much more like flower arranging than tailoring. You, the writer, have amassed a lovely bunch of flowers for the vase. Each is beautiful in its own right. However, in this tall vase you’ve chosen, the stem of this astilbe is too short. I suggest leaving it out or using it in a smaller vase. I want to use all your colors if I can, but the pink scabiosa look faded against the orange tiger lilies. I will suggest you add a few white ones in between, maybe the Queen Ann’s Lace, to bolster the pink rather than compete with it.
Accepting an editor’s changes is always optional. However, depending on the publisher, by choosing not to accept the edits, you may risk remaining unpublished. It can be a very black and white situation that leaves many writers feeling unappreciated, and without agency.
That’s truly not what I want to have happen between you and I when I edit your manuscript. If I am going to put time into editing something you’ve written, it is because I love it. Otherwise, I would simply not accept it at all. So, when I edit it, I am really hoping that I have helped you to refine your voice, make your message clearer, make your jokes funnier, keep your pace and flow intact, and point out holes you may not have seen. I try to be you, outside of your body, but in love with your work, and looking to nourish it, not change it.
It really is my goal to publish older writers, to have their stories heard. Editing is a free service a publisher provides for the writer; or, it should be. You shouldn’t have to pay for editing with cash, check, or story. Like a jeweler with a rough-cut stone, I’m not there to change you from an emerald to a ruby, I’m there to help you polish your work to a high shine.
Happy July! The summer is racing by this year in hot gusts of air! It makes me want to retreat to any air-conditioned spot where I can work on my novel. It makes those of us who work at Devil’s Party Press want to read full-length manuscripts and find some good ones to publish in 2019/20. What have you been working on? Could this be the summer you transition from writer to author?
Dianne (sent from my messy desk!)