There are a load of micro-reasons that comics need editors, but they all boil down to the same thing in the end. It’s the same as editing anything else: quality, timeliness, and clarity. Like any form of writing or art, it’s hard to see the flaws of something you’ve made without a pair of outside eyes, but I think comics have a way of making that even harder. It’s not just missing a serial comma or using the wrong stylesheet. It’s making sure that not just one person–the writer–knows the story and expresses it well enough that a reader knows what’s going on. All the pieces of the puzzle have to fit together almost flawlessly, and if they don’t you will almost always end up confusing someone or losing an emotional beat.
Connie King Leonard is the author of Sleeping in My Jeans, a YA novel about a teen girl who has to live out of her car with her mother and young sister. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Connie to discuss what inspired her to write a book about being homeless, what message she hopes it will send, and the unique protagonist at the center of it all—Mattie Rollins.
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.
Be like a sponge, absorb everything.
The most important element of a successful pitch is to succinctly explain the concept of the book. This is high-level thinking that shows the benefits and emotional payoff of reading the book for the agent, publisher, and reader. It is not about the beautiful sentence structure that took years to realize. So if you’re tempted to say “but if you just read it you’ll understand,” then work harder at articulating the overall concept. You have five minutes for the pitch. It’s the merit of your concept that indicates a strong book, and that should take a few seconds.
Recently, I was honored to conduct an interview with Brian K. Friesen, one of Ooligan Press’s newest authors, about his experience editing his manuscript with Team Rivers. Editing is one of the most intimidating and misunderstood areas of the publishing industry for aspiring writers, and Brian was happy to help demystify the process for those who are apprehensive or curious.