Good morning, readers and writers! I’m Jessie Sanders. You may have heard of me. No? Well, that’s probably becuase I’m the editor.
I’ve been editing my own work since I was a teenager. I come from a family of perfectionists and English majors, so I would often craft a few pages of a story only to go back a month or so later and rewrite the entire thing. I love making things as good as they can possibly be.
In college I learned about attention to detail and making lists. Most importantly, I learned that knowing the rules of grammar was a dying art, and I was one of the few (or it seemed few) survivors. I decided to become one of the few, the proud, the editors.
I worked for Tate Publishing for two years before becoming a full-time editor for the Consortium. In my time there I worked with hundreds of authors, each one on a different level of writing skill, each one with a different story to tell and a different way to tell it. The experience I got there was invaluable, and I appreciate every moment that I spent there.
Now I’m the managing editor for Consortium Books. I worked on every book that we’ve published, some in a story-restructuring mode, most in a line-by-line analysis, and all for hard-core grammatical errors. I love working in all of these capacities, because I’m working with others to make some really well-crafted novels.
Editors are the unsung heroes of book editing. In movies such as Stranger than Fiction and Alex and Emma, editors are mentioned as those ambiguous, mean people who withhold paychecks from the poor, underfed authors until they receive “The Manuscript.” They come across as the people who want to put deadlines on the creatives who just don’t know how to adhere to these kinds of boundaries. And as we all know, creativity must be allowed free reign to express itself!
It’s true that editors can enforce rules on authors and even be mean sometimes, but it’s not because we want to squash your creativity. It’s because we want to make you the best authors you can possibly be. And if we have to give a little constructive criticism and withhold the candy for a bit to get it accomplished, we do it. We’re like parents in that regard. Someday you will thank us. Until then, we sit in the background and remind ourselves that we’re doing what’s best for you.
With the rise of self-publishing, a number of authors are seeing a way to bypass the editor stage of publishing. Traditional publishers accept only near-perfect manuscripts to begin with, and then each manuscript goes through a rigorous round or two of editing before it goes to the printing presses. But through CreateSpace and other self-publishing arenas, an author can simply upload a Word document directly from his computer. An author may think, “I’ve read this mansucript through a hundred times, and my grammar is pretty good. I’ve had all of my family members read through it, and they love the story. Why should I pay an editor to do what I and they have already done?”
That’s a great question. I will tell you the answer next week.
Jessie Sanders is the managing editor at Consortium Books, editor of the bestselling Dragonprince trilogy, and author of the young adult fantasy novel, Into the Flames. Every Friday she shares an article about editing and how to improve one’s grammar.