Editing a book length manuscript is a vital part of the writing process, and a great editor—to some authors—may be worth the editor’s weight in antimatter (according to Wise Geek.org, antimatter is worth $1,750 Trillion US Dollars per ounce).
Wouldn’t you love to have an ounce of antimatter to sell? And don’t expect to make any money as an editor if you charge similar rates.
Anyway, this morning I read a post, My Advice to Aspiring Authors, by New York Times best-selling self-published author Hugh Howey, who said, “Invest in your book with editing and great cover art.”
That wasn’t all Howey said, but it reminded me of one of the greatest editors in publishing history, Max Perkins (1884 – 1947). Back in the early 1980s when I was working toward an MFA in 20th century American lit and creative writing, I read and studied many of the great 20th century authors and discovered Max Perkins, who edited many of them.
Out of curiosity, I bought and read Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg, and before I started writing this post, I visited Amazon.com and discovered—to my, gasp, shock—this book has gone out of print. Berg’s book isn’t even an e-book.
Hugh Howey touches on the topic of traditionally published books going out of print and says, “Working at a bookstore was a dream job but also a sad job. I saw how books sat spine-out on a shelf for six months, were returned, went out of print. That’s a narrow window in which to be discovered.”
By coincidence, I discovered another great editor in the Max Perkins tradition. Our daughter is a student at Stanford and that is why we get a print copy of the Stanford Magazine, a publication of the Stanford Alumni Association, mailed to us every two months. This issue was for March/April 2013.
The Einhorn Touch by Constance Casey introduced me to Amy Einhorn, who has her own imprint at G.P. Putnam’s Sons. After reading Casey’s piece in the magazine, I learned that Casey was a great editor, and many of her books are by first-time authors.
The debut author for her imprint was Kathryn Stockett, the author of “The Help”, a book that was rejected by 60 agents over three years. One rejection letter said, “There is not a market for this kind of tiring writing.”
“The Help” went on to sell more than 10 million copies and maybe you saw the movie that was nominated for four Academy Awards.
In fact, for one book that Einhorn rejected and a month later changed her mind about, she wrote the author a 17-page letter detailing the necessary changes and together the author and editor worked through four-major revisions. That book was “The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake.
Discover more about The Need to Edit
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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