Saturday, October 16, 2010


Here's another hypothetical question for writers:  How much leeway does your editor have with your book?  Does s/he discuss all changes with you?  Do you give your editor carte blanche?  I assume the process can be slightly different from one publishing house to another, but there are also norms and standards within the industry. 

I know that proofreading is a separate thing - catching typos and inserting missing punctuation is a separate thing, a separate skill set, so I'm not wondering about that side of things.

But when it comes to character development, setting, dialogue and so forth, what sorts of changes would you want to have a say in, versus what sorts of changes would you let slide?  Or, would you just let them do what they want and assume that "Father knows best"? 

Finally, how would you feel if - suppose - the editor made changes but didn't tell you or show you what they were (for example, you did not get a blacklined version or a "tracked changes" version)?  Imagine getting the manuscript back and finding out the word count was significantly different but you didn't know what those added or deleted words were.

In your experiences, what is usual and what is unusual? 

I'd love to learn what your experiences have been like.


  1. I have no doubt there will be some give and take on both sides… if and when I get published. I would expect to be involved every step of the way; it is MY novel—isn’t it?

    If someone changes my work, it’s no longer mine, but ours… there is a problem with that in my eyes.

  2. Great post! I own an editing business and have some helpful tips on what to expect from a good editor.

    1. NEVER accept an editor who doesn't show you his/her changes via Track Changes or some other obvious method. No editor should expect you to blindly agree with their changes. It's your book, so you need to have the ability to accept or decline the editor's changes.

    2. Editors should naturally have carte blanche unless you'd like to exclude any of their services. The more you tell them about what you want, however, the better the job they'll do. All in all, you should receive basic proofreading PLUS comments on plot, pacing, inconsistencies, character development, etc. ALL at your ultimate discretion.

    3. While "father knows best", you may disagree - and that's your right as the author. Editors are there to give you the benefit of their knowledge and experience, but make sure you never give up your style or voice. Those are what make you different from everyone else.

    I hope my comments are helpful and you have success with your current and future editing team.

    -Christie Stratos