I'll be celebrating my tenth year as a professional editor soon. In this time, I've been fortunate to edit some rather lucrative commercial successes and some rather unnoticed niche novels--and a good deal of slush, slop and riot in between. I'm at a point in my career where I can pick and choose clients, pick and choose genres and form, and generally revel in the luxury of saying "No" whenever I want. It's a rather spoiled place, I won't lie, and I do enjoy it. More: I earned it.
The other day, I was speaking with a potential client, someone I've rejected a time or two before whom I didn't fancy working with this time 'round, and he asked a very simple question: "What can I read to get better at writing?"
I wanted to tell him to read anything and everything, but I knew that would be unfair. Instead, I told him what I have told each client I've accepted who's asked for similar advice. (WordCount once provided a resource list
, as well.) I will now share these suggestions with you, for those few who are still listening and still writing:
1) If you are a writer and do not re-read Strunk & White every few years, most notably after you've finished a new novel's rough draft and prior to diving in for the first edit/revision sequence, you are doing yourself, your agent, and your editor a terrible disservice.
2) If you are a writer who is constantly whining about writer's block or cannot bring yourself to finish one damn thing (or hit your deadlines), then I suggest reading Stephen King's On Writing
to learn a little bit more about the work that goes into the craft. Then I suggest you shut the hell up and write, because no one wants to hear your pitiful excuses. No one. A man wrote an entire novel by blinking, another through use of one goddamn foot. Suck it up, buttercup. You want to be a writer? Write.
3) If you are finding rejection at every turn and have not read Stein on Writing
or employed the advice in Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
(any edition), then you are at a disadvantage. These books tell you how agents and editors think--the faults only agents and editors recognize in your manuscripts that most of your readers never will--and its editors and agents you must (most-likely) move past in order to get published by someone other than Amazon's CreateSpace.
That's it. That's all. Read those four books, and you'll have read some of the best advice on producing and publishing craft currently in print. The lessons can't make up for lacking talent, but they can help hone your skill.
As an aside: I am looking for two beta readers
for a client who's suffering a confidence crisis (and is searching for completely fresh perspectives). The completed novel is about 110,000 words and falls into the fantasy genre with a lean towards YA. You need not like either of these genres in order to be a beta reader and, in fact, he'd welcome feedback from someone who doesn't like fantasy at all. You also need not read the entire story, as he's sufferring through the first few chapters and would appreciate reader response on these more than any other. You will not--absolutely will NOT--be responsible for any editing, be it for copy or continuity. You need only provide your general impression of what you've read and areas you deem boring, difficult to understand, or just plain awful. --Beyond this, you're free to provide any additional feedback as you see fit (including positive comments). The general turn-around for beta-read text is 30 days, sometimes less, so a quick read-through is all we require.
If you're interested, please comment below. This is not a paid position, simply an opportunity to read a traditionally-published author's work pre-publication and post-copy edits. The final form may look very different from what you read but, if and when we pass it along to the publishing side, you will receive a copy of the finished work should you so desire it.
Please note: The beta document will come as a PDF and is copyright protected with all rights reserved. Beta-readers must be above 18 and located within the continental United States.
Thank you for your consideration,