Thursday, October 22, 2009

Welcome, Freelance editor Kristen Weber

Paula here...I'm delighted to have as today's guest, freelance editor Kristen Weber. I highly recommend Kristen to anyone who's ready for an insightful, hardworking, enthusiastic editor to help get your manuscript into shape.

Kristen Weber has worked as an in-house editor for her entire book publishing career (except for a brief stint as a subsidiary rights assistant) before relocating to Los Angeles for her husband’s job. She’s currently freelance editing in between relearning to drive and hanging out with her pug. You can learn more about her services here:

By Kristen Weber

“Do I have to take a test?”

That was my first question when I was approached for a job as an editorial assistant. My only real qualifications were that I had been an English major and I was a voracious reader. I didn’t know exactly what being an editorial assistant entailed, and I wasn’t sure I could pass any kind of test.

But as I quickly learned, you either know how to edit or you don’t. While some houses will give tests, becoming an editorial assistant is really an apprenticeship. You absolutely need to have the editorial “eye” - being able to crawl inside an author’s manuscript to find the heart of the problem while helping them maintain their own vision and voice. If you have that eye, you’ll learn to hone it by reading and discussing the submissions of a more experienced editor and editing behind them on manuscripts. It is an absolutely intense experience, filled with days and nights of an overwhelming edit and reading load but it is the best way to learn the business.

The thing about editing, though, is that there isn’t really a “right” way to do it. I know how I personally edit, but different editors edit in their own way. You can do it with a red pen or with a pencil, sitting in your office or sitting on your couch. And there isn’t really any way to know if you’re doing it “right” – except by the caliber of the books that you end up helping to get published.

The point that I’m making is that editing is a subjective art form. That’s why I always told the authors I worked with and I tell the freelance clients I work with now not to get discouraged. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure…and one day you’ll find the person who sees your work like you do.

One of my first acquisitions was a book that had literally been passed on all over town. But it only took a few short pages to steal my heart. I knew I could help the author make it into something amazing and I was right…it went on to win awards and receive phenomenal reviews.

In the end, the most important person to believe in your work is you. Of course, if you continue to get the same exact same kind of criticism on your manuscript from your writing group and even agents if you go that far, that’s where a freelance editor like me comes in. I consider it my job to help push your work out even further while helping you keep your own vision and voice intact. Sometimes you just need a little professional help to push your manuscript to that next level.


PatRemick said...

Thanks for stopping by Kristen -- and the insights and the encouragement!

Annette said...

Welcome to Working Stiffs, Kristen!

I keep hearing that many in-house editors are losing their jobs, piling more work on those that remain. As a result, with less time and energy to spend on each book, editors are only choosing those that are pretty much perfect already. Did you see this happening before you went freelance? And at what point do you think an author should consider hiring a freelance editor to whip his/her work into shape?

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Thanks Kristen. My adventure with a freelance editor on my first book was eye-opening. I was in that place with my first attempt at writing that I didn't know if I had 300 pages of crap or 300 pages of something that I could work with. An author friend gave me name of her freelance editor and I sent 150 pages.

I learned a LOT about writing during the phone call that ensued.

She called me back a few days later and asked if I was mad at her. She said her husband overheard the conversation and told her that she was way too mean and that I surely hated her.

My response was, "While nice to hear, all the praise in the world doesn't make the novel any better."

Thanks for stopping by. I recognize a lot of those authors on your website.

Jenna said...

Welcome to the Stiffs, Kristen; thanks for being willing to share your insight and experience!

Editing is definitely a much different animal than writing, and absolutely, I think it's something that comes naturally to some people, coupled with them having read A LOT of books and manuscripts. Being able to really hear that rhythm, I guess... I'm lucky enough to have good editors at my publishing houses, along with an agent who's fantastic when it comes to polishing a manuscript.

Kristen Weber said...

Thanks so much for the warm welcome everyone!

Annette, while there may be some editors and even agents who only want work with a manuscript that is close to "perfect", there are still plenty of editors willing and eager to get in there and help an author and their manuscript reach their full potential. I think it is less about how much work a manuscript needs and more about whether it captures someone's eye. I was always happy to edit something I loved no matter how much work was needed but you really need that passion to want to dive in.

And I don't think it ever hurts anyone to get a professional read on a manuscript before they start the submission process, especially if you don't have any other trusted readers. But you should really consider one if you're getting the same kind of vague rejections from agents across the board - a professional edit can help you pinpoint what problem agents are seeing.

And Wilfred, how funny! I always try to be as nice as possible, but my husband is a TV writer and he gets very straightforward notes and rarely any compliments. So I also have him over my shoulder reminding me to be even nicer!

Anonymous said...

Kristen is indeed nice. And gentle, but firm.

I hired her with one goal in mind: I wanted to enter the SMP/Malice contest.

Because of time, I reluctantly left my critique group so I could focus on my wip after getting Kristen's editorial letter.

Because of setbacks, I missed my deadline. So, my new goal is to implement Kristen's suggestions and get this sucker out to agents.

Again, I highly recommend Kristen if you're looking for professional help with your manuscript!

Paula Matter

Annette said...

Paula, I'm so sorry you missed that deadline. Crossing my fingers for you agent search!