Editing and Learning

This summer, I’ve been working for Booktrope Publishing. It’s a small company near Seattle that applies a new business model to book publishing: instead of salaried editors, designers, and marketers, everyone works on commission, so we all have incentive to make the book the best it can be to sell. Plus, everyone chooses to be a part of the team. Best of all (for some parties involved, at least), the author gets a much higher royalty than at a traditional publishing house.

One of the benefits of Booktrope is that it has very quick turnaround. The manuscripts I edit aren’t going to take years to go to print; in fact, the first manuscript I edited is already on sale at Amazon! (If you buy it, you get to see my name listed in print as editor–what better incentive do you need?) This is the Amazon print version, and you can also buy it at Barnes and Noble as a print or ebook.

It’s been thrilling to be a real editor working with real writers to produce real books. This, after all, is one of the things I want to do with my life. But I keep reminding myself that I’m only twenty, I’m just about to start the meat of my creative writing degree, and I know I have a thousand things still to learn. Looking back on this point last summer, I know I’ve already learned a thousand things since then; I can only imagine what I’ll know by next year, and the year after that, and the year after that…

I hope that this perspective allows me to be a more helpful editor. The skills I already have let me guide writers towards stronger, more powerful books, and (if I do say so myself) that means I’m already a valuable person to have reading your work. But though I can spot things that are awry, I don’t always know the best way to fix it, and that’s all right. Knowing that I still have things to learn means I am okay with letting the writer teach me. I imagine that after a few years of editing without professors there to push me farther than I thought I could go, it will be pretty easy to think I know best in every situation. So I hope that this early training as an editor will ingrain in me the humility to remember that an editor has as much to learn from a writer as a writer from an editor.

Since I’m still learning, I’m anxious to know from those of you who have been edited: what has been most helpful from an editor? what has been most harmful to your writing?

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One thought on “Editing and Learning

  1. I hate it when editors return comments in bright red because it looks like a massacre on the page. Another color–purple, green, blue–is much preferable, in my opinion. Just something to keep in mind 🙂

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