Editing involves exposing harsh truths, making tough decisions, and facilitating collaboration. So how can an editor—especially a new one—make sure that their decisions, suggestions, and occasional wing-clippings are fair? The answer lies in the ability to separate what we want a story to be (which is subjective and infinite) from what the story and author needs.
Rather than go through the sometimes tedious process of asking questions and making suggestions, we are tempted to just tell the author what to do to make the story better—or, at least, make it better to us. And that is the one thing we must not do.
The line between imagination and reality blurs in these forty poignant pieces written by first- and second-generation immigrant authors.
Many years ago, I came across an interview with the late James Michener, the Pulitzer Prize winning author whose forty books have sold tens of millions of copies. In the interview, he was asked about the secret to his success. The essence of his answer, which has always stuck in my head, was this: I am a better editor than a writer.
In the book publishing industry, fact-checking should happen before the book is made available to readers. This means that from the early editorial stages, editors should be working on fact-checking, but this isn’t quite an industry standard yet. As time goes on, the need for fact-checking in editing is becoming clearer and clearer. So how do you even begin?
Authors and editors of children’s and young adult books have an important job: not only do they need to resonate with adult readers, but they also need to connect with young readers. As editors, we need to help authors find the “turn the page” moments within their manuscripts—the moments that completely grab the reader and make it impossible for them to put the book down. These moments make a book compulsively readable. Regardless of the genre, we need to tease out these moments in every book that we edit.