How editing works . . .
When picking up a manuscript to edit, I am most concerned with how the work—whether fiction or nonfiction—engages me as a reader. How does it captivate me? Guide me? Teach me to follow its emotional and/or intellectual threads?
How the reader experiences the world of the story and its particular viewpoint is of utmost importance.
As I often say to writers, I believe deeply in generosity. A writer who is generous to her or his audience is a writer who will lead that reader deeper into both narrative and argument. This is my guiding philosophy no matter the project. How that transforms into editing advice is where the individuality of the manuscript comes in. Every manuscript is distinct, so editing advice is tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of a given project. Yes, there are a handful of concerns I’m always looking out for—but how these come together in a given work will always be unique.
Still, publishing is a world of categories—a.k.a. genres. Being able to maintain your unique voice and message while simultaneously managing the expectations of your particular genre—well, that’s a large part of the task before you.
Similarly, when approaching a new project or when starting to work with a new writer, I consider what category or genre it falls into. Is it nonfiction or fiction? Is it book length, proposal length, or essay/short story length? Academic or New York? Upscale or literary or science fiction? Is the writer already established in his or her given field, or is the author about to break onto the writing scene? Each of these things matters.
Therefore, I encourage writers to share with me this information when first contacting me. This generosity is much appreciated. The next steps depend on the kind of manuscript it is. While actual editing can be fluid across categories, the menu of services will give you an idea of how it will proceed. Contact me for more information, and we’ll take it from there.