Editing Series 101: What is Editing episode is here! Welcome readers to my very first episode of Editing 101 series. I’m so excited to launch this and, more importantly, share it with you all. I have wanted to launch an editing series for a while now. Ever since I started learning the process while I strive to write a manuscript that is ready to query. Honestly, it has been a struggle learning the ins and outs of editing on my own and relying on Google to answer my questions.
Let’s face it Google doesn’t always have the most accurate information, especially when you are searching in the literary world of fiction. I have found articles telling me no agent wants a first-person manuscript. Other write not to edit your work until you get an agent…so I decided to gather professional editors already in the market to give you their answers on what you as a writer need to do.
Without further ado, today, Sophia DeSensi, Editor at The Parliament House Press, joins me to answer the most basic question is editing…what is editing?
Welcome, Sophia! So first of all, tell us what made you want to edit novels?
When I was a student in my MFA program, I learned to critique and edit genre fiction. I was taught to provide specific feedback for my peers that focused on craft and the improvement of their vision. We learned to avoid phrases, such as “I didn’t like” or “I was confused by,” but rather identify the elements of craft that disrupted the story. I found I enjoyed this process. In my opinion, editing a novel is much like solving a puzzle, and it can be just as creative as drafting.
After I graduated, I submitted my resume to The Parliament House, and they hired me! My skill flourished under the guidance of my editor-in-chief, Malorie Nelson, and the publishing director, Shayne Leighton. I continued to further my education with courses at The Editorial Freelancer’s Association, studying craft books and attending writing conferences. I believe that if I’m to expect the best from my author clients, I need to first ensure that I offer them the best feedback on my part, so I believe a continuous pursuit of genre education is necessary.
Why is editing important?
I think editing is a way to take a piece of art written for yourself (the author) and grow it into a story that relates to an audience on a wider scale. I believe the ultimate goal of popular fiction is entertainment. Thus, the work needs to be engaging to a reader—anyone who might pick the book off the shelf. This is achieved through the application of craft. Many readers may not understand why they didn’t enjoy a book. They might not look at the prose and say that the pacing is off or that the word choice contradicted the narrator’s tone. They might just say that they just didn’t like a book, but it’s the writer’s job to understand why the story isn’t working and craft solutions to keep the reader hooked through the application of craft. That’s the benefit of editing.
Does editing mean you’re a bad writer?
Not at all. Every writer, no matter if they’re a NYT bestseller or if they’re drafting their very first manuscript, benefits from the editorial process. However, I would suggest if this is the first time a writer has ever sat down to draft a novel, they hold off on editing until they’ve completed the first draft. I would instead advise to draft freely and from the heart. Once the manuscript has incubated for a period of time, go back with your fine-toothed comb and scan the pages for areas of improvement. First on the developmental level, and then at the prose level.
At what stage does an editor work on a client’s novel?
First, the writer will seek representation from a literary agent. Once they’ve gone through revisions with an agent, which can span months to years, they will go on submission for an editor. The editor will acquire the manuscript for a publishing house and continue edits.
Is editing required to publish a book?
In the world of traditional publishing, yes. Always. Whether the writer is traditionally published or self-published, editing is essential to the process. A writer will want to avoid a reader putting down their story because of underdeveloped characters, lack of agency from the protagonist, or a confusing plot structure. Those are all examples of developmental aspects that can be improved through the editorial process to ensure an engaging and entertaining novel.
That concludes today’s first episode of my Editing Series 101: What is Editing! Thank you, Sophia! If you want to find out more about Sophia check-out her website. You can follow my journey on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to check out my feature on Feedspot’s Top 100 YA Book Blogs!