Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hunting Up An Editor - Shannon Mayer, author of Sundered

Hunting Up An Editor
Guest post by Shannon Mayer

Editor hunting is a hard, frustrating task, one that can leave you exhausted, confused and more than a little unsure of yourself. How do I know? Because over the last two years I’ve had the chance to work with a number of editors. Six to be exact.

My writers group teases me that I’m too picky and that’s why I go through editors so quickly, but that isn’t the case (says me). Looking for an editor is no different than looking an agent and I’ve learned things the hard way. To start you off, here’s your checklist.
  • The editor must work in your genre so he/she can understand the nuances your readership expects.
  • The editor needs to respect you when you stand your ground, yet still push you to improve your writing.
  • The editor should be able to communicate with you in a timely manner whether that is by email or phone.
  • The editor should be able to meet deadlines and keep contracts.
  • The editor should be able to give you a rough quote of the cost and it should not be astronomical.
Above all those things, your editor should be someone who clicks with your writing. Let me highlight that for a moment. Your editor, just like your agent, should be engaged in making your manuscript the best that it can be. This is a reflection on them as well as you and that reflection should be important to them. The more you work with your editor, the more they will begin to see your style and voice which will help them bring out the best in your characters, plot and dialogue.

So why did I go through so many? Because I didn’t have a checklist and didn’t understand what makes a good editor. I thought if someone said they were and editor then it was so and I believed them.

My first editor was not familiar with my genre of paranormal romance and urban fantasy which gave her difficulties in understanding the direction the book should take.

The second editor was only interested in getting her money and doing as little as possible, yet taking as much time as she could to make it look as though she was doing something. A lot of money went into learning that not all editors are created equal. Or priced fairly.

The third editor did not respect my work and tried to turn it into a feminist rant (which really was not the point of the story).

Though these three editors were not a good fit for me, I still learned from them and I’m sure they do a great job for other authors within other styles.

My fourth editor is Jessica Klassen and FINALLY, I’ve found a great editor who is talented, hard working, good at communicating and most important, we click. She brings out the best in my writing in a way that no other editor has and I’m very happy to have her on board for my current series.

So where are the other two editors? I’ve worked with one copy editor, who is no longer copy editing, and so I’m starting to work with another copy editor, Melissa Breau. And yes, you should have more than one editor. It gives your manuscript a second set of eyes to pick up any mistakes the first editor might have missed.

If you’re hunting for an editor, there are a few places to start.
·       Universities & Colleges.   I had the chance to meet Jessica at Simon Fraser University during an editing course I was taking. Jessica was in for the two year editing program and was extremely good, something I saw right away. We chatted and a few months later I hired her for my next project.
·       Other Writers Talk to other writers about their editors. We all have an opinion on the subject (as you can see) and often you can be directed towards some great help.
·       Twitter   This is really like talking to other writers, but it gives you a far broader spectrum.  I met Melissa through Twitter and she did a guest blog for me on the importance of using an editor even when you are self publishing (I whole heartedly agree!). I realized that her style and quick communication skills were right up my alley and after a discussion on the phone; we are all set to work together.
·       Editors associations I’m not going to list them all as they are often broken down into genres, but they are there for you to find!

A quick word of caution. There are a couple of places you DON'T want to go hunting for editors.
  • Friends and Family  This is pre-cautionary. Do you really want your best friend to tell you how to write your story when all she had was a single editing course in high school? I thought not. Cheap is one thing, there are editors out there who aren’t over the top expensive, but if you can avoid it, stay away from family and friends. They take longer than they should and they don’t like to keep to your deadlines, mostly because you are paying them a cut rate or nothing at all. This makes for bad relationships and frustration that will eventually pour out of your mouth at those you once cared for. Usually at a family reunion or another inappropriate time.
  • Your Agent  Again this is a slippery slope. If the agent recommends someone to you, and the editor doesn’t mesh well with you, this will put you in a tight bind.  A veritable rock and a hard place. You will end up paying for work that you don’t want done and will find yourself no further ahead. This is a position I’ve been put in so I know what I’m talking about. Politely decline and offer to find your own editor.

My final piece of advice when hunting for that perfect editor is this. Don’t be afraid to hire and then fire an editor. You have to do what is best for your manuscript, and sometimes just like finding the right agent, it can take more than one go round.

Sundered by Shannon Mayer
Nevermore Trilogy #1
September 2011 

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, no matter how unhealthy it is and yet still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking the drug.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world, a species bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other.

The secret forces Mara to make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?

Add on Goodreads, and buy on Amazon.

About the author:
 Reading and writing from a very young age I learned early on that stories built in a fantasy world were where the fun was at. Reading books by Robert Jordan spurred me on and it was the first real epic fantasy that I fell in love with. After that came Piers Anthony, Melanie Rawn and into my older teen years, Anne Rice.

It was in Rice's novels that the idea of urban fantasy really bloomed for me and it was about that time that my grandmother was letting me read her Harlequin Historical novels. (Okay, actually she was slipping them to me when my mother wasn't looking, but let's not get picky.)

The combination of love stories and darker fantasy stuck with me and it's now not only what I gravitate towards to read on my off time (Kelly Armstrong, Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison), but has become the style I love to write in.

Besides writing, I love to spend time with my family and animals, horseback ride, garden and hike with my husband.

Find out more at, on Twitter and Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating!! I think this is cool, finding the right editor. It's a complicated process finding people who understand well and want to go in the same direction vs. "fixing" more than the author intends. I think I'd enjoy that. Editing.



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