Ambit Creative

Adele Annesi

Adele Annesi is an award-winning editor and writer for global Web content and print publications. She worked as a development editor for Scholastic Publishing, and is a fiction and nonfiction book editor, specializing in nonfiction and memoir. As a press correspondent and columnist, Adele writes for newspapers, magazines, blogs and literary journals. Her stories have appeared in The Circle, The Fairfield Review, Hotmetalpress, Miranda Literary Magazine,,The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Trillium, the Italian-American literary journal Pyramid and an anthology for Fairfield University. She won Poetic Voices of America's editor's choice award, and presents the editing and writing workshops for libraries and other venues. She is a nominated member of Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Women. She's also working on a new novel. Visit her website at: Adele Annesi, Facebook, LinkedIn, Redroom, Twitter, and Word For Words.

Making the Most of Working with Editors

At some point in our calling as writers we’ll work with an editor, whether a professional we’ve hired to review our work, or a friend we’ve asked for help.

There’s a fallacy about editors that “those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach.” But good editors often write just as well and should have the writers’ best interest at heart. When selecting an editor, you want someone who, above all, edits well and understands writers and the writing life. The person probably won’t become your best friend, but will strike a balance between professional objectivity and nurturing your talent amid the pruning process.

Why Work with a Pro?

• Writers often opt for professional editors and literary agents often recommend them, especially for first-time authors, because mistakes, simple and complex, are easy to miss.

• Simple mistakes (grammar, punctuation, spelling) can be easy to fix, but complex problems (plot, theme, character development, transitions) can be tricky. An editor with knowledge in these areas can be invaluable. So can one with a thorough knowledge of grammar.

• Working with a pro can save time, money, and aggravation by showing you sooner rather than later the recurring errors that may be keeping your work from publication.

• You may want to take your work to the next level, and a professional editor can provide the necessary perspective.

• It can be an investment in your future. Writers often invest in master’s degrees and conferences, but degrees are expensive and time-consuming, and you may need a more personal touch than conferences allow. A good manuscript edit educates you in areas of weakness.

• Although publication is never guaranteed, not even for authors with multiple books in print, your chances improve as your work improves. You can also gain notice from publishers who would otherwise pass on your work because it lacks polish.

• Professional editors have contacts in publishing, and many have worked in the field. Not only can they offer wisdom about those relationships, but also some provide referrals if they like your work.

Types of Editors
Editors come in various flavors, but there are three basic profiles: development, content, or line, and proofreaders:

• In a nutshell, development editors scrutinize for big ticket items: character, plot, theme and transitions. They consider other aspects, too, like grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but their strength is the big picture.

• Content or line editors scan for the big picture, but they’re looking largely for whether the writing flows, scenes make sense, and the story generally works. They also watch for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

• Proofreaders, the good ones, get out the magnifying glass. They’re detail-oriented and look for errors you want to eradicate before sending the draft to your agent. Some development editors recommend using proofreaders before sending the final draft.

The Working Relationship
Send your best work to an editor, otherwise you waste time and money. Once you polish the draft, here are some tips:

• Referrals are preferable, even in a nonpaying arrangement.

• Problems will arise, so professionalism, even with friends, is key.

• Don’t react immediately when you see the corrections, which are likely to be more extensive and different from what you were expecting. Instead, put the manuscript aside for a day before going over it.

• When you come back to it, review all the observations before passing judgment. Then test the changes by implementing them. Most often, you’ll see improvement.

• If you’re still in doubt, write your questions and review them before sending them to your editor, making sure to use the opportunity for clarity and not to snipe.

• Each writer-editor relationship is unique, so don’t be surprised if your experience differs from that of others, even when you’re working through a referral.

• At some point the honeymoon will be over, but this can be an opportunity for the relationship to mature. How you handle it sets a precedent for how you’ll handle other aspects of the writing life, like reviews and publicity.

• Remember, this is a business—for both of you.

Questions to Ask Before Signing
Before hiring an editor, ask these questions:

• How long have you been doing this?

• What’s your specialty (fiction or nonfiction, and genre)?

• How much do you charge, and how do you charge (by the hour or the page)?

• What books have you edited? Would I know any?

• Can I give you a four- to five-page writing sample to edit free of charge before committing?

• What’s included in your price (character development, plot, transitions, etc.)?

Bottom Line
At some point, all of us work with an editor, maybe more than one at various stages of the work—before your agent sees the manuscript and before publication. So, it’s important to understand and make the most of the relationship. Remember that balance is key and when in doubt, ask before assuming.