For some time now, people have been asking me to write about what copy editors do and why they’re important. This is a companion piece to last year’s little trot through the origins and history of publishers’ editing: “What Editors Do”.
Why now? I have just actually been reviewing the copy editor’s changes on the text of my new book. So the mind is focused on what I did and what it felt like.
I should point out that, like my blog on editors, this is highly personal. Though I have also drawn on conversations with copy editors and a great talk, some years ago at an RNA Chapter, by jay Dixon, a trained copy editor. Continue reading →
Napoleon Bares his Breast
~ or ~
The Editor Is [almost] Always Right
Two hundred and two years ago — on 7th March 1815, to be precise — Napoleon bared his breast to (what looked like) certain death and lived to fight one more great battle. (And if you’re wondering why we didn’t do this blog two years ago, on the bicentenary, we would plead that this website was a mere twinkle in the hively eye back then.)
A cautionary tale of author and editor
Once upon a time there was an author — let’s call her Joanna — who was writing a trilogy of love stories set in 1814-15, the end of the Napoleonic Wars. (He lost, by the way.) Continue reading →
Screw the Punch was the first editorial idea to work for me in a big way.
Traditionally published or indie, everyone agrees that authors need to be edited. But what do we do with those editorial reports? One of the most crucial judgements for a professional author to make is deciding exactly that.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, Dear Editor, this blog is for you. You’ll find it’s somewhere between a human resources case study and a love letter.
I’ve been writing most of my life. I’ve moved from “Not a semi colon goes” (end of conversation, book never published) to “Whatever you say” (utter misery, nearly stopped writing) and am now definitely at “Looking forward to discussion”. I hope the following may help other authors and their Dear Editor avoid some of my pratfalls — or at any rate, get up afterwards a damn sight faster.
Relationship in the mist
Whether you’re a difficult author or a pussycat, the author-editor relationship is always edgy, groping its way through the mist. You can’t get away from it. There are just too many dark alleys and water’s edges. You think you’re striding along a good straight path of mutual understanding and — KERPLOP!
Both of you have to live with this.
And pull each other out of the water when necessary.
“What do editors do?” I asked my first literary agent, having established that it was not, as I had first thought, copy editing. I was very young.
She was an editor by training, temperament and still, occasionally, practice. “Teach you to write,” she snapped.
Over time I came to see that she was right, in one way. They intend to teach you to write what their employer desires to publish and/or knows he can sell. And they want an end product that will do just that.
This is how I think modern editing evolved.
Editors Keep You Legal
Back in the day when printer Samuel Richardson was writing Pamela to keep his presses busy, nobody edited fiction. Printers could be prosecuted for content, so such editing as they did of their clients’ work aimed to keep them out of the law courts. Fiction? Not a risk.
Dickens was his own editor. This could not happen:
Editors Keep You Decent – and may have a go at saleable
I qualify to write this because I’ve wrestled with writer’s block all my life, long before my first book was published. Yet I have finished innumerable writing projects — reports, articles, blogs, non-fiction — and published them. My 50th novel is hovering in the wings.
When I hit a writer’s block, therefore, you’d expect me to say, “Uh oh, been here before, I know I can beat this.”
And sometimes I do.
But the trouble is the demon block changes shape from book to book. Hell, sometimes it changes from chapter to chapter.
For me, the perfectionist aspect of block is one of the worst. And part of the problem is that a secret, shameful bit of me quite likes the idea of being a perfectionist. It sounds superior. Rigorous, even. It says I’m a Writer With Standards. Continue reading →
This post on Going Indie was originally a guest piece on Sue Moorcroft’s blog. Many thanks to her for letting us repost it here, complete with new thoughts, several months on…
Back in November 2015, I wrote:
Why go indie? At the risk of stating the obvious, I’d say the answer is freedom.
Freedom to ride off into the sunset. What’s not to like?
Here’s an example of independent author freedom in action. As originally published, in the Harlequin Undone! series of short ebooks, His Silken Seduction was well under 50 pages. That was the length the line required, so that was the length I wrote. Simples!