What It’s Like To Work For An Author To Work With An Editor
Guest post by Thomas Hill with additional comments by Catherine Carrigan
Here’s editor Thomas Hill:
After the completion of her second book, Catherine Carrigan, the author of the bestselling book, What Is Healing? Awaken Your Intuitive Power for Health and Happiness, invited me to her book release party in May 2013. We had been working together on getting her manuscript ready for publishing for a few months before, and it was finally time to share it with the world. I graciously accepted her invitation—an honor I have not experienced many times in my life. It was truly an emotional experience for me to hear her read lines from the book; the experience overcame me, and I was moved to tears. It occurred to me that I had played some significant part in shaping the course of this amazing book.
It is not always so apparent what authors can expect when working with an editor. That confusion can lead many to either forgo the process, or fight tooth and nail to preserve what they estimate to be their “baby.” When an author can start seeing an editor as a type of midwife, who helps with the delivery of the “newborn,” it can lead to a more rewarding book production experience.
Banish the Blues Now
Catherine has just released her fourth book, Banish the Blues Now, so I thought it would be a great time for her to describe her experience working with editors. The author-editor relationship can at times be antagonistic, where two devoted individuals (one to his /her craft and one to the mechanics of language) are jockeying for position in the rat-race that is publishing. Authors are wedded to their art, devising ways to express joy and sorrow, anger and tranquility; editors are bound to the rules of English grammar, spelling, and word usage, trying desperately to conform an author’s work to a golden standard. Catherine knows that process very well, and therefore has great insights for new authors who will be self-publishing or seeking a literary agent.
When an author can start seeing an editor as a type of midwife, who helps with the delivery of the “newborn,” it can lead to a more rewarding book production experience.
Here’s author Catherine Carrigan:
I have always felt that one of the reasons I am successful in so many aspects of my life is that I have sought out the very best coaches, editors, and advisers. I have made every effort to follow their advice.
What Is Healing? Awaken Your Intuitive Power for Health and Happiness was the first work I had written in eighteen years, after my initial opus, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide, became the best-selling book of the original publisher.
I had experienced an eighteen-year unrelenting bout of writer’s block, so when I finally wrote the first draft of What Is Healing? I was eager to get it out into the world.
Thomas read the manuscript and advised me—much to my disappointment—that he thought the book needed extra work. I did not cry; I pouted only momentarily and then I considered the truth.
Being a medical intuitive healer, I asked for guidance. I received the insight that working with Thomas could help me make my book 30 percent better. I therefore hired Thomas for extra editing.
The work we did together must have been important; What Is Healing? now has twenty-nine five-star reviews on Amazon.
Many writers do not understand the editing process, so let me simplify it here:
- There are style editors. A style editor reads the content, tells you what’s working and what isn’t working. They don’t correct your spelling or grammar errors. It’s a process merely meant to see if your manuscript is ready for publishing.
- There are also copy editors. Most writers think that all a good editor does is correct grammar and punctuation. This is the job of a copy editor.
- I had already gone through one round with a style editor. Thomas was copy editing my book, but he had the guts to tell me what he really thought—that my manuscript needed more development. This is what developmental editors do.
- Finally, there are proofreaders, who look at the manuscript once it’s been prepared for layout. This is usually the last step before publishing.
So here’s the way it worked:
Thomas read my book and then pointed out to me the places where he thought the manuscript needed further development. I then wrote additional sections, subsequently adding another 20,000 words to the entire manuscript, and making the reading smoother for the reader. As a result of this back-and-forth dialogue, the book became much stronger.
When Thomas and I were finally satisfied with the manuscript, he then proceeded with the copy editing process.
As an author, you read your own writing so many times, frankly, that you cannot possibly see all your own errors! This is a humbling aspect of being an author. You become blind to your own stupidity. Copy editing continues until the book is ready for layout and formatting.
Both I, as the author, and Thomas, as the editor, read the book again (I can’t honestly tell you how many times I have read my own books). At this point, as an author, it’s helpful to read your book backward so that you can more easily see at least some of the mistakes.
Finally, the book is formatted and a physical proof is ordered. Now you can hold a printed version in your hands, at long last! However, at this point, you see even more egregious errors, leaving you wondering how you ever graduated high school or college. You mark up your book proof, order the corrections and, finally, when you can’t take it any longer, you throw caution to the wind, hit “Publish,” and hope for the best!
As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
Catherine Carrigan is a medical intuitive healer. Her first book, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide was the best-selling book of the original publisher and went on to be published in Chinese. Her second and third books, What Is Healing? Awaken Your Intuitive Power for Health and Happiness and Unlimited Energy Now, went to Number 1 on Amazon. She just published her fourth book, Banish the Blues Now. For more information, please visit www.catherinecarrigan.com.
Thomas Hill is a book production specialist who has assisted over fifty authors with development, editing, ghostwriting, and publishing manuscripts. He is founder of Book Production Freelancers, a LinkedIn members-only group of over 4,000 book production professionals, and he is a member of the Editorial Freelancers’ Association. He is the author of four how-to books on book design, including How to Design a Book Using Adobe InDesign, as well as a novel series. For more information about Thomas, visit thomasmhill.branded.me.