My Approach to Editing
I have talked with so many authors over my career who have had challenging experiences with editors. This is a tough business, and a lot of it is very subjective. I feel for writers who either have had bad experiences with editors, or who don't even know where to begin with one! It can be so murky.
By now most of us have read this astoundingly great blog by Chantel Hamilton, "The Comprehensive Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with an Editor," on Jane Friedman's site. It does such a fantastic job of demystifying the process. Those of us who have been in this business a while take so much of this stuff for granted; we forget that to new writers our world is opaque. Not everyone lives and breathes this business the way we do!
I look at editing as a process, yes (and yes, I do have to get paid for my work--editors like to eat). But fundamentally for me, it's a relationship--between me and an author. I say it all the time: "I meet authors where they are, not where I am." Do I have preferences in how I work? Sure! That's why I don't take on every author who comes to me and asks me for editing. I like to read a batch of your pages, have a conversation with you, get a feel for who you are, what your book is and what you want it to be, before I agree to work with you. Is this time-consuming? Sure. Is it worth it? Absolutely! No one benefits from a bad fit.
My goal is always to help writers make their material the best it can be (I talked about this recently on Free Advice Friday with Amy Collins). And that sometimes means having tough conversations--that subplot you just love but is dragging down your novel? The part of your memoir that you really need to dig deeper for, even though it hurts? Editing can be a painful process, but the relationship that you have with your editor shouldn't be. And the process itself becomes less painful, I find, when you trust that your editor truly has your (and your book's) best interests at heart, has the experience and knowledge to guide you on the path to publishing, and fundamentally respects you as a writer. I like to think that I know and do all of these things. This is why I have worked with so many authors more than once. They trust me. You can't put a price on that, for me or for them. I look at it as a very high honor to have a writer trust me with their work. I know how hard it is.
If you've been writing a book and think you might be ready to look for an editor, give into the impulse, and email me! I may not end up being the right editor for you, but I'm always happy to have a conversation. This needn't be intimidating. It can even be fun, I swear!
As ever, happy reading and KEEP WRITING!