Earlier this year, by the prompting of friends and industry contacts, I cut back on the number of events I organized, instructed, and participated with, and the number of clients I took on. That time was instead devoted to my short story collection. I had one or two unwritten stories for the collection and the rest needed to be revised. I wanted to get everything in the best shape as I possibly could on my own and then have a professional editor pass an eye over it.
I know many editors and I want to use them all. Just like with the many writers I know, I can’t buy 100% of their books, so I can’t retain 100% of the editors. I decided to work with Jacquelin Cangro, a freelance editor in Brooklyn. She edited The Subway Chronicles: Scenes of Life in New York, a collection of stories linked to the subways. I like that she is a freelancer, has published short fiction, that she instructs creative writing processes, and I enjoy her blog. How did I connect with her? I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I’ve been following Jackie’s blog and social media for awhile. (Check out her blog for stories on how she got scammed/’shookdown’ by furniture movers, National Park visits, macarons, and New York life.) Perhaps I saw a tweet or a blog comment or the universe’s neon flashing arrow – in any case I am happy we connected!
I’ve gathered a few tips below gleaned from my first experience working with an editor on my creative work. Take a look and let me know in the comments or on Twitter @writenaked what other tips you may have:
- Get familiar with their work. If you write mysteries, try to find an editor with experience in that genre. Same goes for memoir, YA, etc. When I reached out to Jackie she informed me she had just finished editing a short story collection–so how great that her mindset is fresh in that format!
- Discuss a schedule. Fortunately, I am not in an rush. If you have a personal or professional deadline you need to satisfy, get in touch with the potential editor farther in advance to reserve a spot. I contacted Jackie about my editing needs and time frame, she was organized and easy to work with from the beginning. We set up a delivery time window for my files, then she gave an ETA on her notes. Her notes are fantastic!
- Use the feedback. Over the next few weeks I will incorporate the editing notes into new revisions for the collection, then reach out to Jackie with my query letter for her to edit. Usually I’m the one editing magazine query letters in my workshops so this will be a nice change to have someone review my book query!
As you can imagine, query letter writing tips will be surfacing on Write Naked in the coming months!