The Publishing Project, Group 5: Editing and Dealing With the Author
By uczccgl, on 21 January 2016
The editing process can be a delicate one. As can the relationship between author and editor. Therefore, it requires a great deal of communication, and it is important to strike a balance between honesty and constructive criticism, The story you are editing is your author’s pride and joy. Remember and respect that.
In our publishing group, we are making a collection of short stories, and consequently are dealing with multiple authors for the same project. That means we are juggling several authors with the same concerns and same deadlines, and making sure they all feel taken care of.
Personal experience has shown me that most authors are grateful for the feedback and find it hugely helpful, especially when it comes to the grammar as they themselves are often too close to the project to pick up on every mistake no matter how many times they go through the text. Structural editing is a little bit different. When you start suggesting ways that the text could be changed concerning plot and characters, authors tend to be a lot more conservative and hesitant. Sometimes, they will flat out reject the suggestion.
When it comes to structural editing, checking for consistency and accuracy is high on the list of priority. As editor, you want to make sure that the pace of the story flows naturally and that the narrative is convincing from a reader’s perspective. If you then want to make structural edits that concerns the plot and characters, make sure you have a reason to do so and explain to your author why these edits will make their story a better one. That is what it comes down to: will the changes you make as an editor make the story a better one?
Sometimes, there is a need to make cuts. This can be due to a word count or it can simply be pieces of text that are unnecessary to the story in its entirety. Some authors are (grudgingly) okay with making cuts. They recognise that there are patches of the story that might look clunky and could be smoothed out. Others are very hesitant. They have put so much work and effort into every word in every sentence, the thought of cutting any of it is absolutely appalling. This is where you as editor have to be firm. Explain to the author the necessity of what you are doing, and pick pieces of the text you are sure—or as close to it, anyway—are non-essential. Every story has pieces redundant text, even if the author would beg to differ.
Different editors take different approaches, and I’m not convinced there is a “best way to edit” so to speak. In my opinion, the most effective way is to establish a good rapport with your author, and to communicate your concern and interpretation regarding the text. If your author trusts you, they are more likely to listen to your advice and suggestions, and to let you go about your job and make the necessary cuts and edits.
Our group is still in the midst of the editing, and while it is a process, it’s coming along nicely. There are, admittedly, a few hiccups along the way, but we are working it out as we move along, and the further into the process we get, the more convinced I am that the finished product is going to be nothing short of amazing!
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