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Q&A: Author Jeremy Tankard on the author/editor relationship

What do authors think about editors? What do authors think makes the difference between a good editor and a great editor?

Jeremy-Tankard-3Previously, BoldFace asked author Nina Munteanu about her experience working with editors. This time we posed the same questions to Jeremy Tankard, an award-winning Vancouver-based children’s author and illustrator. His books include Grumpy Bird and It’s a Tiger! and he recently illustrated Here Comes Destructosaurus!

Q&A conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

Overall, what’s your experience like as an author who’s been edited?

Nothing but positive, so far! I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the biggest names in children’s publishing. They bring a LOT of experience and award-winning books to the table, so I’m all ears when they open their mouths to comment on my work. I haven’t been led astray, so far.

What is it like as an author to work, say, months, or even years, on a book, then have an editor read it critically and suggest (sometimes major) changes?

It can be a strange experience, sometimes: you think you know what you’ve done, but then someone can give you whole new ways of seeing it. I think, sometimes, as a writer, you can get much too close to your work. I rely heavily on my editor having a fresh and more distant perspective on things. She can see the big picture, whereas I’ve got hung up on details. Occasionally, editors have suggested major changes or rewrites, and those are certainly frustrating (or at least not what I want to hear at the time). However, I have a great deal of trust in their experience; so, while sometimes I’m not told what I want to hear, I know that they’re probably right. I know that they make suggestions because they believe it will make my book better—and I want it to be the best that it can be. (more…)