One of the questions I often get asked by potential clients is whether or not I’m an editorial agent. With my background in editing the answer is of course. That leads to authors wanting to know how much editing I do, which depends on the amount of work each individual project needs. Editorial agents are becoming more common and I think the increased competitiveness of the industry is going to lead to most if not all agents becoming editorial agents eventually. Honestly I’m glad I started on the editorial side first to work on editing since these days it’s an important skill for agents. While I don’t give specific edit notes until a client has signed with me, on the offer call I try to cover my expectations of what needs edited to clue the author in how many edits we’d be doing together.
When it comes to my clients, as an agent I tend to work with authors who don’t need heavy line edits and I tend to focus on developmental edits instead. By that I mean their overall style is polished and the changes needed are usually not grammatical issues that pop up throughout the whole story like passive versus active voice or too much telling. My clients are authors who have put in a lot of time to studying the craft and aren’t still learning the basics. They are also often experienced with taking critique as well. Continue reading “Being an Editorial Literary Agent”
I’ve noticed a few authors on Twitter wondering if agents actually have any interest in a submission if they send an R&R. The short answer to that? YES. Now lets get into the long answer and all the information about R&Rs. I’ve been known to give a few out, but they are usually rare. I’m going to explain why I personally give an R&R, what it means for the author, and what it means for the agent, including why some agents don’t bother with them.
Why do I give an R&R? Usually because I love a concept, can see what the book could potentially be, but feel in it’s current form it still needs too much work. If the writing is good on a technical level and the story itself needs some work, I’ll consider an R&R, but only if I’m in love with the concept. The R&R lets me test the author’s ability to revise. If they just haven’t gotten the right feedback yet, getting some guidance might be all they need. But if they can’t quite make the revisions work, I know the project isn’t for me. Taking on a project that needs a lot of work can be a bit too much of a risk, especially if its a debut author and I have no idea about their ability to edit and revise. The R&R gets rid of that risk. Continue reading “All About Revise and Resubmits (R&Rs)”
Something I’ve noticed as an agent is when I make an offer, authors are always interested in knowing what kind of edits are needed in detail, which is good. I’m very editorial, so it’s important to me that my clients are prepared to do revisions and if their current project doesn’t need them, future ones might. However many want to know all the details during the offer stage and there is a very important reason why we don’t give them at that stage. You won’t get more in-depth edits until you sign the contract. Sure during the offer I will let you know if it needs deep edits or light edits, but you won’t be getting an edit letter yet. Continue reading “Why Agents Don’t Give You Edits Until Signing”
Like many things, character motivations can make or break a story. When motivations fall flat it can be hard to connect to characters or understand their actions. Weak motivations can cause issues with other aspects, like plot and stakes. Let’s discuss issues to avoid and how to make sure your character has strong and clear motivations.
First off, when a character doesn’t know why they are doing something my interest wanes especially if this happens in the first chapter when the stakes are being set up. If a character doesn’t know, it doesn’t tell me about them or why I should care. In fact, it makes their actions feel unimportant. It’s often a big red flag when a character even thinks “I don’t know why” in regards to their actions and motivations. If they don’t understand themselves, the readers can’t understand. This makes their actions feel forced for the sake of plot. Motivations help develop characters and their role in the story. Forcing motivations for the sake of plot causes characterization and as well as motives to suffer in return. Continue reading “Character Motivations”
As an editor and a literary agency reader I read a lot of first chapters. Like A LOT. I’ve blogged about types of openings to avoid before. There are a few openings and issues I spot in first chapters all the time that instantly turn me off a book because I see them so often and they simply don’t grab my attention. I’m going to tell you some of my first chapter pet peeves and exactly why they don’t work for me.
Starting a story with a character waking up. I see this way, way too often. Usually when I see it the character is waking from a dream or their phone wakes them up in the middle of the night. This opening doesn’t work for me because A) I’ve seen it so often it has become cliche, and B) it doesn’t grab my attention. I want to get to know your characters right away. Start me with something more unique to them and their story and not something that could be used for any character. Similar to this beginning is starting with a character’s daily routine. It isn’t attention grabbing. Continue reading “First Chapter Pet Peeves”
Content editing and copy edits usually have different rates. In the traditional sphere I often hear about how content edits take longer than copy, but in the indie sphere it’s often the opposite with copy edits costing more. I found myself thinking about this when I saw an agent mention how content edits take longer and cost more, even though most freelance editors I’ve seen have higher copy rates, myself included. So let’s discuss why that is! This is all based on my observations, so keep in mind other editors may have different opinions and views on the topic. There is some harsh truth in this post but fear not because there is advice at the end!
As a reminder for those who might not know, content edits deal with things like plot, pacing, and character development while copy edits deal more with line edits and grammar. Some editors have a knack for grammar while others find grammar frustrating but are great at spotting weak character development and plot holes. It’s not uncommon for editors to focus on one or the other and they often do so in the houses while freelance editors might offer multiple services to bring in more projects. I got my start as a proofreader and copy editor on the traditional side but these days I find I enjoy content editing more. Continue reading “Rates: Content VS. Copy Edits”
I’ve noticed lately that I comment on a lot of the same issues when doing line edits, so I decided to make a short list of the common issues I spot while editing or reading. The issues below are tips to keep in mind when you tackle line edits. They are issues I spot and bring up with clients all the time and even sometimes spot them slipping past edits in published books. Keeping an eye out for the below will help strengthen your sentences.
Shaking Versus Nodding: When a character shakes their head, it means no. Nodding means yes. Too often characters shake heads to mean yes or nod no and it confuses the reader.
Repetitive Wording: If a character nods, it’s assumed they are nodding their head because what else are they going to nod? Same with shrugging. Stick to a concise nod or shrug instead of the longer and more repetitive, “She nodded her head.” Continue reading “Writing Mistakes at the Sentence Level”