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Q&A: Linden MacIntyre 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?

Linden MacIntyrePreviously, BoldFace asked internationally bestselling author Mary Lawson about her experience working with editors. This time we posed the same questions to Linden MacIntyre, a renowned journalist whose work has earned him multiple awards and a long-time co-host of CBC television’s the fifth estate. He is also the author of Why Men Lie and The Bishop’s Man, among others.

Q&A conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

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

I’ve had a variety of experiences. In my first, I never met or spoke to the editor at all about the manuscript. We spoke of many other things: life, music, the struggles of creativity. Eventually he requested, as I recall, no changes in my manuscript, and I believe he farmed it out to a freelancer for what I now understand to have been a line edit. I was then given the marked-up manuscript and advised to accept the changes proposed, none of which were substantial. My next experience involved long meetings (over tea) with an editor who explained just about every change, no matter how minor (such as why “St. Catharines” is spelled with an “a”). My last few experiences were with my editor-publisher, Anne Collins, who is constructively brutal, in painstaking detail. Many of her suggested cuts are, at first glance, fatal, but, on second glance, crucial to the flow and clarity of the story. So I unquestioningly believe everything she says. (Most of the time.)

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Q&A: Mary Lawson on the author/editor relationship

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

Previously, BoldFace asked children’s author and illustrator Jeremy Tankard about his experience working with editors. This time we posed the same questions to London, United Kingdom–based, internationally bestselling author Mary Lawson, who penned Road Ends, The Other Side of the Bridge, and Crow Lake.

Q&A conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

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

I’m in the slightly unusual position of having three editors: one in Canada, one in the United States, and one in the United Kingdom, all of whom have to agree on the final version of each book. It’s a complicated set-up, and if any of them were unwilling to consider the views of the others, the whole business would be impossible. Fortunately, all three are outstandingly good editors and genuinely want what is best for the books and, therefore, they’ve been open to suggestions from the others.

For me, the chief disadvantage of the arrangement is that I have three different sets of notes and comments to work through, which is exceedingly time-consuming! But the advantage is that if all three of the editors agree on a particular point, I know for certain that they are right. If they don’t agree, I feel able to stick to my guns and go with what feels right. I have huge respect for all three, and they have been wonderful to work with.

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

Inevitably, it is an anxious time. It takes me roughly six years to write a book—a significant chunk of my life—so there’s a lot riding on it. But I find it very difficult to judge my own work, and, therefore, I do welcome comments. So far I haven’t been asked to make any major changes. (more…)

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…)

Q&A: Author Nina Munteanu 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?

nina-and-siko-jan2014In May, BoldFace asked award-winning author Elizabeth Berg about her experience working with editors. This time we posed the same questions to Nina Munteanu, a Halifax-based writing instructor and author of The Fiction Writer: Get Published, Write Now! and the short story collection Natural Selection.

Q&A conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

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

It’s been exceptional! That is, when I was being edited by professional editors. At various times in my career, I’ve had my works edited by individuals who ranged in their level of understanding of “story” and editing within the genre: colleagues, other writers, and novice editors. At times, it was disastrous. What this experience showed me was the importance of matching editor with writer. This is why in the industry we often refer to this linkage as a “marriage.” In some very important ways it is just like a marriage: a synergistic partnership of mutual respect, a shared vision, and enthusiasm with the ultimate goal of taking something and making it better. As a writer, I entrust my sacred creation to an individual who I pray will respect and uphold my voice and my vision, yet not shy away from suggesting those improvements that go beyond simple copy edits. When this happens, what you always get is something greater than what it was before. A well-matched editor and writer will together enhance a project into something beautiful. It is truly a wonderful thing to behold and experience.

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?

Except for my very first book, I’ve not had an editor suggest major changes to my works…yet. However, the changes that they have suggested have always resulted in obvious improvement. I welcome the input of a good editor. In a typical edit, I find that I am in total agreement with 95 per cent of their suggestions and edits. And the remaining 5 per cent, they usually concede. (more…)

Q&A: Author Elizabeth Berg on the author/editor relationship

author Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg

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

In March, BoldFace asked author Andrew J. Borkowski about his experience working with editors. This time we posed the same questions to Chicago-based, award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg, whose books have been translated into 27 languages. Her latest book, The Bird Lover (about French writer George Sand), will be available in spring 2015.

 Q&A conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

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

On the whole, it’s been helpful and very supportive. I’ve found editing much more flexible for books than for magazine pieces, where space and advertising are concerns.
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Q&A: Author Andrew J. Borkowski 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?

In January, BoldFace asked author Andrew Pyper about his experience working with editors. This time we posed the same questions to Andrew J. Borkowski, a Toronto-based writer, editor, journalist, musician, and author of the short story collection Copernicus Avenue, which won the 2012 Toronto Book Award.

Q&A conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

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

copernicus_avenue_frame

Extremely positive. The editors and readers I’ve had at publishers, literary magazines, and agencies have been as diligent, thoughtful, and as committed to the craft as I expect myself to be.

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

Having worked as an editor for many years before my first book was published, I tend to be a pretty ruthless editor of my own work, at least when it comes to working the surface of the prose. That said, I go into the process hungry to know what rings true in my work and what doesn’t.

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Q&A: Author Andrew Pyper on the author/editor relationship

Andrew Pyper

Ever wonder what authors think of book editors? We did, too! Here’s what award-winning, best-selling, Toronto-based author Andrew Pyper (The Demonologist, The Guardians, Lost Girls) has to say about being edited, as well as the difference between what makes a good editor and a great editor.

Q&A conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

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

I’ve only had good editors and great editors. I’ve had maybe one or two absentee editors, but no horror stories.

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

There’s always the reflex to defend the work when an editor first weighs in, but I’ve learned to wait a moment or two, because that’s all it takes to see that they’re right, or that they’ve at least put their finger on something that needs tending to. It’s rare that I end up seeing a note as just plain wrong. There’s almost always fire where there’s editorial smoke.

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