Guest Post: Editor-Phobia

The following is a guest post by Muffy Morrigan:

In all the years I’ve been around the publishing business, the one thing I’ve noticed is many people have a fear of editors. The fear has become so great, in fact, that more and more people are not even calling editors “editors” but using “beta” instead.

Why? Where does this editor-phobia come from?

I think the fear is that feeling that somehow this other person is going to dive into our creation and gut it. Destroy its little life and hand back something that we don’t recognize. That fear, I will admit, is not unfounded—although that is more an outgrowth of the dreaded “beta-ing”. For some reason in the world of the “beta” (at least as I have experienced it once or twice) completely changing the voice of an author is acceptable, rewriting is acceptable… The list goes on.

That is not editing, that is butchery.

Writers should never fear editing. They should look forward to it, and be eager for the pages to come back from their editor. The process of editing is the second most important thing any writer does. (The first, of course, is the writing.) Editing is like adding the facets to the diamond, making something beautiful into something exquisite.

When you reach the point and start looking around for an editor, maybe “audition” one or two. Ask them to edit a chapter, and see how it comes back. Editors, like writers, have their own style, and you need to find one that will fit you. They should understand and respect your voice and never change it. Of course there will be changes, but the essential organic nature of your prose should remain yours. An editor makes your writing better; they DO NOT make your writing THEIR writing. (Sadly, that is what I have seen over and over in the world of “betas”.)

I love the editing process, and I have several editors who offer me different things. I also have someone who just reads everything for continuity. She is a whiz at catching those errors that other people can miss because it is a flow issue. For example—the characters are by a lake in one chapter then a chapter later at a house with no segue.

I have been in the writing business for most of my life. My first publications were academic papers and a poem, then I spent years as a reporter, reviewer, columnist and editor for newspapers of all kinds, from dailies to an alternative newsweekly. After years of non-fiction writing and reviewing other people’s books I decided to embark on my own career in fiction and launched my Custodes Noctis Series. The Legacy, The Hunt and The Summoning are available on Amazon.com.

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Born in California, Muffy Morrigan began her writing career at the age of six, when after completing her first hand written novel she attempted to sell it to the neighbors for the lofty price of ten cents.

After myriad careers, including archaeological consultant, teacher, herbalist, shop keeper, news editor, reporter and columnist, she has settled in to her first love and passion–writing. The author of the Custodes Noctis Series and the upcoming The Sail Weaver, she currently lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with Muffy online: Twitter * Website * Facebook

14 Comments Add yours

  1. agavin says:

    I don’t mind editing either (although there is some tedium involved). I just got a line edit for my new novel and Word said 14,490 changes in the trackchanges panel! But still, after I take the 80-90% of them that I like and smooth things out, the book is leaner, meaner, and better.
    Fundamentally, I like anything that makes my book better.

    1. christinerose says:

      Absolutely! It’s a necessity for us all.

  2. Mokibobolink says:

    Sadly I have had reason to fear editors in the past but reading this post has made me hopeful that it won’t always be that way. In fact, it’s made me look forward to sending my work in for it’s first actual hard edit.

    Thanks for posting!

    1. christinerose says:

      Great! Definitely use Muffy for an editor if you need a recommendation. She’s awesome. I have other recommendations on my resources page.

  3. Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much. You have excellent content on your blog.

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  4. iCOi says:

    Great post. I’m an aspiring editor and I certainly don’t want anyone to fear me someday. I’m still learning how to accept being edited myself, but I learned an important lesson while working briefly as a reporter: even editors have editors 🙂 It’s true. The same senior editor who edited the work of the reporters was the same senior editor who had her work edited when she submitted a story. Knowing this has made me more accepting of the editing process, because even the best of us make mistakes.

    1. christinerose says:

      As writers (even writers who are also editors) absolutely MUST have another set of eyes look at their work. There is no way around it. We just don’t see so many of our own mistakes.

  5. Erin Roof says:

    I edit fiction and non-fiction manuscripts. I would like to think I could speak for all (or at least the vast majority of) editors in saying that our goal is never to “butcher” or change an author’s writing style into our own. When I work with an author, I view it as a team effort–the two of us working together to help the author make the best book possible.

    I really enjoyed this post. And I would love to hear other people’s reasons about why they’re afraid of editors. Perhaps it could help me to be more sensitive of these ideas when I work with authors.

    1. christinerose says:

      Thank you for your input, Erin. Editors certainly need not be feared. They are an important and necessary part of the process.

  6. I think the self-publishing industry would be taking it to another level if more authors took the plunge and hired a professional editor. If your book hasn’t been edited by a professional, you’re essentially publishing a draft!

    1. christinerose says:

      Quite true.

  7. I sometimes work as an editor/book doctor as well as an author, and I think it’s very important to preserve the author’s style and tone. But as you point out, the relationship has to be a “match,” so I always copyedit and comment on a certain number of pages, and then confer with the writer before continuing. I don’t want to waste either party’s time and money. Thanks for a thoughtful post!

    1. christinerose says:

      So pleased to hear you work closely with the author like that. Thank you for the great comment!

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