Editor – Not What You Think

For the Dreams & Reality novels (I hate calling it a series for some reason, sorry), I use an editor.  This is not what most people think.  An editor, by definition, is “a person who edits, or selects and revises, material for publications, films, etc.” This is not the person that makes sure every spelling error has been caught or who has fixed all your grammar mistakes in your 100,000 word manuscript (that would be a copy editor or proofreader).  

The job of the editor is to make sure the material flows, makes sense, and most importantly, is readable.  So, when I send a book to my editor, I don’t expect her to catch every spelling error or incorrect semicolon.  I expect her to make sure that my words are actually words, that my book isn’t jumping around, that I’m not changing character names halfway through, that I haven’t dropped a major plot thread or created one from thin air, and that the book is logically written (somewhere, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end).

The D&R novels get complicated from time to time with storylines that may build over several books, brewing in the background, until it is time for them to explode.  My editor has to be aware of these things and make sure I don’t screw up three books later when I describe something that has taken place.

For this purpose, I use an editor named Frankie Sutton.  She has worked on the Strachan Series and the D&R novels and done an amazing job (unfortunately, not all of them, because I have a back catalogue that could use some attention).  She remembers shit I can’t.  She points out when I am talking about things no one else knows about and it needs an explanation or when I have a storyline going and it just sort of fizzles out (for those that read Mutilated Dreams, there was some disappointment on her part that the little old Voodoo lady didn’t have a more significant part… she could have, but I try to keep them from delving into the supernatural too much).

The best example I can give came from Summoned Dreams.  In it, I spoke of a drug called Krokodil.  I’m familiar with it and the horrendous side effects.  It’s been in the news a few times.  I didn’t think I needed to give much in the way of explanation.  Frankie proved me wrong.  I got tons of messages from readers who had never heard of Krokodil and had to google it and were shocked to find that Aislinn Cain’s explanation did it justice.  However, none of that would have made it in the book if it hadn’t been for Frankie.

The adage “you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply here.  Frankie works at very reasonable rates (I am vaguely aware of the reasons for this).  I’ve had much worse editors charge far more for their services.  However, after finding Frankie, I got a quality editor who does catch most spelling and grammar issues, but definitely does her editing job excellently, for a steal.  My average book costs me around $250 to have edited.  At that price, I can afford to pay a proofreader/copy editor to find the spelling and grammar mistakes that she, being human, might have missed.  But I admit, most of the time, I just let the beta readers sort those out.  They do a pretty good job at it.

Honestly, I appreciate the copy editing she does do, but I really use her because she can keep track of things that I just forget exist.  The complicated who betrayed who and who was manipulated by who was hammered out a great deal by Frankie.  It made sense to me, she had concerns and the entire explanation was rewritten.  It’s still complicated and confusing (it’s supposed to be), but it isn’t nearly as complicated and confusing as it was before she took her Mighty Red Pen to it.  When we disagree strongly on something, we work it out, together.  So far, that has only happened once… I usually just accept that her comments and questions and concerns are valid and move on.  After all, I’m the writer, there is more going on in my brain then ends up on paper.

Also, if I have a concern about something specific, I can ask her to double check it.  Fortified Dreams had an issue… The Fortress changed shapes, twice.  I have a blueprint of the damn thing and I still couldn’t get it right.  I asked her to double check to see that they had been fixed in the first round (they hadn’t) and she marked the descriptive passages that seemed to contradict any other descriptive passages.  That is the job of the editor.

Is she for everyone?  No.  I did run into an issue where I recommended her to a fellow writer and the editing conflicts were battle-worthy from what I understand.  However, I recommended her to someone else who loved her.

So, if you are looking for an editor (not just a copy editor, but a real editor), check her out.  You may find that she’s a perfect fit for you too (she managed my blood and gore without blinking an eye, which is something I have struggled with from Day 1 of trying to become an indie author).

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