This hot new track (read: listicle [still hot and new]) is for the editors out there. So, editors, grab that special style manual or manuscript and head to the dance floor (or, more appropriately, your desk)—we’re about to break it down for you with a sweet little recommended reading list. Oh, yeah.
The dreaded “self-edit” acts as the bane of most writers’ existence. After pouring yourself into a carefully crafted piece for so long—draining blood, sweat, and tears in the process—it can be overwhelming to then restructure, reformat, and (oh please, no!) cut out portions of text. You’re attached to the writing, you’re invested in the experience, and you’re determined to share your story with the world—so why do you now need to edit it? New studies are proving, however, that this dreaded “self-edit” can actually prove therapeutic, in the same vein as writing and art therapies. Shaping a personal narrative is therapeutic in its own right, but the act of further cultivating and honing this narrative through a self-editing process can lead individuals to completely reprocess their own understanding of the world around them.
Tony Perez, acquiring editor at Tin House, talks through his editorial process: from first acquiring a manuscript, to developing, editing, and eventually publishing it. Perez touches on the hardest parts of the editorial process, the not-so-glamorous takes of an editor—negotiating his daily tasks and tight deadlines, the late night panicked emails, and the back and forth. He likens it to putting out a series of small fires. But he also explains the moments that make it worth it, from his team at Tin House and his relationships with writers, to obtaining the right manuscript and seeing its potential realized.
Last year, a friend of mine was preparing a manuscript to be pitched to publishers and agents. He asked me to read his manuscript beforehand because he believed my editorial experience would provide him with insight regarding the plausibility of his book getting accepted by a publisher or an agent (it doesn’t). I told him the story was enjoyable but in need of structural work. After revising the manuscript twice, he approached me for tips on how to write his query letter, knowing that I’ve been involved with Ooligan. So to help new authors like my friend, I’ve compiled a list of five reminders that are helpful when writing the dreaded query letter.
Not too long ago, I met with a talented author friend of mine for coffee. Since grad school seems to occupy nearly every free second of my life, it didn’t take long for the conversation to move to editing. After discussing my nerves over taking over the editorial manager position for Ooligan, I quickly found myself nodding sympathetically as my friend discussed editors she’s worked with in the past—both good and bad.