novelist, professional ghost writer

Being an editor

Just as almost every person who ever swiped an ‘A’ out of an English teacher believes that they have a novel in them, almost every person who’s ever tutted at ‘Avocado’s and Onion’s cheap today!’ secretly believes that they would be the most marvellous editor.

Many of the writers are right. Unluckily, very few of the editors are.

This is because most people’s lives could make a novel of some kind: everything from a psychological thriller to one of those deep Russian works most of us missed the point of aged seventeen.

Unluckily for the would-be editors, however, to edit really well, especially fiction, you have to have a surprisingly varied skill-set.

You have to be a hugely experienced life coach, psychotherapist and encourager, as well as being effortlessly virtuosic in written English.

You have to be able to work to deadline, to reassure, to tactfully advise, to absorb unintended slights, to learn from hard-won experience what works with whom, and to be able to enter wholeheartedly into someone else’s vision — leaving your own ego outside the door.

You also have to care more about people than about money, because for every handsomely rewarded editing project that comes your way you’ll normally find yourself taking on several for your very lowest rate, simply because you believe in the person or the subject . . . You also have to love words, and find the arrangement and rhythm of words to be endlessly fascinating. True editors can get tipsy on words!

In my experience, the least empathetic copy-editors are those who are actually frustrated writers, because — without being in the least conscious of it — they retain a certain jealousy towards authors. We who are also writers understand much more deeply how much courage it takes to write, and we can truly empathise with the tough times — as well as those wonderfully flowing glory days — that almost every writer gets.

Because writing is hard as well as wonderful. For example, you may have the most amazing story to tell, but how can you grip a reader in the first few sentences? — because, these days, you won’t get much longer than that, whether your reader is a potential agent, publisher or even a friend. In the internet age, we are collectively swifter to move on than ever before!

There are those magic times when the hours and words fly by . . . and then there are days when writers feel like kicking over the desk — and go make a green tea and take some deep breaths — and start to immerse themselves all over again.

So, what brings you to this page? You may have a family genealogy you’ve researched and long to put into a book, but lack confidence in your abilities. Or you may have already written a strong novel that only needs a few kinks smoothed out to be completely publishable. Or perhaps you may have something you’d like to share with your grandchildren before you get too old and forget about it.

Drop me an email and we can talk/Skype. I do free sample edits, and I’m easy to talk to.