Monday, August 24, 2009

Everybody Needs an Editor - Here are Three by Austin S. Camacho

More than most fiction, a mystery novel must hold together structurally. The author must reveal information at the right time, in the right order, and with the right degree of emphasis. For this and many other reasons, every writer needs an editor. I am frequently asked to recommend one. For those who are sincere and dedicated, I can.

Understand that you don’t hire a good editor to check your spelling and grammar or hunt for typos. We all need a real pro to look at structure, pacing, continuity and all those basics of the forest that we writers can’t see because we’re busy looking at the trees.

I’m pretty picky about editors – they have to have a sharp eye AND a good attitude. There’s an art to encouraging a writer while at the same time being honest about his or her work. Over the years I’ve only met three that I think enough of to recommend. Which might be better for you would depend on your personality and writing genre, and because they are all my friends I present them in alphabetical order:

Ally Peltier - - has a decade of experience, including several years acquiring and editing books for Simon & Schuster. Ally edited “New Lines From the Old Line State,” an anthology published by the Maryland Writers Association. She worked with the short story I and several others submitted to that volume and found the true potential in each.

Melanie Rigney - has more than 25 years in the business including nearly five years as editor of Writer's Digest, the leading magazine for writers. She was my choice to edit my last couple of novels and I soon came to rely on her storytelling instincts. She knows how to direct important improvements without losing my vision.

Beth Rubin - - has been at it… well… longer than her photo would suggest. Beth has been there and done that, with an award-winning novel in print, as well as travel books and essays. Beth worked on one of my manuscripts at a writers conference, and I’ve watched her share wisdom with dozens of others in intensive 15 minute sessions.

Aside from depth and breadth of experience and a death grip on the basics of craft, these ladies all come to their work with insight, empathy and a gentle sense of humor. They know agents and editors who work for major publishers and they know what those people are looking for. They’ve all presented at writers' conferences and they all love writers.

If you’re looking for an editor for your writing, check their web sites before making contact. Try to see who might be a good fit for you. And be prepared for possible rejection. These ladies are also looking for a good fit and you might not be the author they want to work with. Also, they are all very busy and won’t take on more clients than they can take good care of.

And if you decide to contact one of them, be sure to point out that you got their name from me.


F. M. Meredith, author said...

We all need editors. For my latest mystery, Dispel the Mist, it had been gone over chapter by chapter with my critique group. When it was done I sent it off to an editor.

It came back with lost of fixes and suggestion which I took care off before sending it off to my publisher, Mundania Press.

The editor assigned to me was great and meticulous. She found errors which I fixed, then she went over it again and sent it back with some more to work on.

Finally, we were done and it was sent to the "typesetter" who sent back the galley proof. Oops, I found even more things to fix.

I haven't seen a copy yet, but will soon since Dispel the Mist is available from the publisher now as both and e-book and trade paperback. I've ordered my copies, and I'll be able to see how well all our efforts paid off.


Morgan Mandel said...

We're thinking alike today, Austin. My post today at is about the very same thing.

It's unanimous. A good editor is essential!

Morgan Mandel
also posting today at

Donna M. McDine said...

Can't agree with you more that a good editor is certainly crucial to ones success. Thanks for the recommendations.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

Editor Elizabeth Burton.


Kevin R. Tipple