Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What Does an Editor Really Do?

with guest Barbara Scott.

Myths About Editors

Psst! Draw a little closer to your computer screens. I’m about to share the secret of the universe with you. Well—just a smidgen of the universe—that unexplored island known as Editorville.

It’s said the citizens of Editorville rub their hands together with glee when a boat launches from Seekerville. 

Unfortunately, some writers have turned their boats around and skedaddled back to Unpubbed Island at the first roar of an editor beastie. I’ve heard the stories—stories of lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

Other people say editors have been known to swallow up both new and experienced writers in one big bite and spit them out after chewing on them awhile. I’ve also heard about writers who have scaled the cold concrete walls of the inner sanctum of publishing rarely returning to civilization unscathed. Are you shaking in your slippers yet? Take a deep breath. I’m just joshin’ ya!

Editors Are Human

The truth is, editors are human and come in every shape, size, and gender. We’re all flawed and have personalities that range from funny and quirky, to gentle and encouraging, to stone-faced and no-nonsense. If you give the same manuscript to five different editors, it will come back with five different sets of opinions and suggestions for change. Some editors stand head and shoulders above others. What one editor thinks is important to include, another eschews.

But all editors should respect your voice, respect you as the author, and strive to make your manuscript shine like a finely cut diamond. Verbal or written abuse is never acceptable. That’s true no matter who you are. If an editor ever says your writing stinks and you should go back to waiting on tables for a living, that person should be drummed out of the editor corps. I have little tolerance for mean, nasty, egotistical, so-called editors. Maybe it’s because I’m also an author and can empathize.

I know one multi-published author who received that kind of abuse for months before she finally told her agent and he intervened with the publisher. That editor didn’t last long in the industry. The editor’s advice may have had some merit, but the delivery almost crushed the spirit of the author. You can deliver hard-to-hear criticism in a way that encourages an author. As my mama used to say, “You can attract more bees with honey than vinegar.”

Are There Different Kinds of Editors?

There are many different types of editors: acquisitions editors, junior and senior editors, development editors, line editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders. To confuse the issue even more, a line editor is sometimes called a substantive editor, and a development editor can also be the acquisitions editor who performs a macro or developmental edit. Huh? Every publishing house has its own structure. And these days, most use freelancers for all sorts of editing tasks.

Oftentimes, when people ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a freelance acquisitions and development book editor, their eyes light up. “I would be a great editor!” they say. “I can spot every typo in a published book.” I cringe but answer graciously and then give them a primer on the various types of editors and edits. Before I finish, their eyes have glazed over, and they normally change the subject or wander off.

It's kind of like telling a doctor that you got good grades in high school biology and would make a great brain surgeon.

Meet the Editors

Acquisitions Editor: Your agent will pitch your project to an acquisitions editor—AE—either in person or by email. If you don’t have an agent, I suggest you attend the best writers’ conference in your area, find out what genres editors are looking for, and schedule a 15-minute appointment with an AE or an agent. The acquisitions editor may decline your project right away, or if they like your proposal, they may ask for the full manuscript. If an AE loves your idea, they will present your proposal to the Pub Board, which may consist of the Publisher, a V.P., other editors, marketing and promotional people, and sales reps. The sales reps decide whether they can sell enough books to make your project viable. 

Remember, publishers need to make a profit to stay in business. If the Pub Board gives the green light, all the other legal “stuff” is put in motion. The AE drafts a deal-point memo—an offer to publish—and sends it to the agent. Sometimes the AE will call the agent right away. The agent then presents the offer to you, and after discussion, the agent may go back to the AE and negotiate better terms or accept the offer as is. The AE then requests the drafting of a contract. Voila! You’re on your way to publication.

Development Editor: In most publishing houses, the AE reads your final manuscript first to make sure it meets expectations and is acceptable before passing it on to a DE—development editor. Sometimes, the AE may choose to perform the first development edit, giving you comments and suggestions, using the track changes feature in Word. They also write a letter/email, detailing their thoughts about your project, and send the manuscript back to you for revisions. In some houses, however, you will deal with a different editor—a DE—from the beginning. The DE may be a staff member, or your manuscript may be sent to an experienced freelance editor. DEs can be expected to give you suggestions on how to improve your plot, structure, characters, dialogue, narrative, and setting. Did you notice I haven’t mentioned a word about spelling, typos, or grammar yet?

Substantive/Line Editor: Sometimes these editors are on staff, but usually they are freelance editors. A line editor will rearrange/delete/add paragraphs or sections, and rephrase, reorganize, tighten, and recast sentences or dialogue to make it as authentic as possible. They try to catch most spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, but it’s not their focus.

Copyeditor: After you and the various editors are satisfied with your manuscript, it will then pass into the hands of a copyeditor. Copyeditors are persnickety. They pay attention to every word and punctuation mark, applying The Chicago Manual of Style standards. If you don’t own a copy of the 15th or 16th edition, you might want to invest in one, as well as Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. Not all dictionaries or style manuals spell words the same or place a comma in the same place.

Proofreader: After your text is “flowed” into a “page template,” the proofreader will look for typos or other types of errors in your galley proofs. Look up proofreaders’ marks in the dictionary, and it will usually show a chart of the types of issues they address.

Writing a novel may be a solitary act, but before your book hits the shelves, it will have passed through numerous edits. No author’s words are sacrosanct or written in stone. If an editor is successful, even you won’t be able to tell whether you wrote that scintillating sentence…or if it was the editor’s contribution.

Has anyone ever edited your writing? How did it make you feel?
Tell us about your experience—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Leave a comment for an opportunity to win a copy of the contemporary Christmas novella collection Sleigh Bells Ring, which includes Barbara Scott’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Romantic Times named it a Top Pick and gave the book a 4-1/2-star review. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Santa Claus is coming to town, and so are the Tucker sisters.  Never mind a pony. The Tucker girls have inherited their father’s horse farm for Christmas. Make that . . . a run-down horse farm. It needs some serious TLC in order to make it sell-ready. Joanna knows that by recruiting her sisters and one handsome ranch hand they can fix up the place and even celebrate one last Christmas while they’re at it. However, to Isabella, returning to their home in Kentucky bluegrass country for Christmas seems like an impossible hurdle. Can her Chicago boyfriend make life merry and bright again?

One thing’s for sure—nothing is peace on earth for Sophia as a new beau brings up old wounds. And when the fate of the horse farm is put in jeopardy because Amy accidentally fraternizes with the enemy, tensions rise. But it’s not like the land developer stole Christmas . . . just her heart.

Can the Tucker sisters have themselves a merry little Christmas?

An inspirational book editor for more than eighteen years, Barbara has recently returned to her first love—writing! Gilead Publishing has just released her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in an inspirational collection titled Sleigh Bells Ring. Currently, she is working on a contemporary romance series. In the mid-1990s, she published two bestselling novels, and followed those with numerous gift books, before her stint as a senior acquisitions editor for several Christian publishers. Barbara lives and breathes words, whether she’s reading the latest novel, editing a new book manuscript for other authors, or writing her next novel. Married for 40 years, she and her husband Mike have two children and four grandchildren they adore. They live in the Nashville area where sweet tea is a food staple.

For more information, visit her at her websites: and or on social media…FacebookTwitter.


  1. How fun. Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara. With your humor, I'm sure you are sought after to edit novels. I'm looking forward to reading Sliegh Bells Ring. Please put my name in the draw for it! Thank you for a lovely post.

  2. Hi Barbara, thanks for sharing about editors and how that can vary. I'm sure a good editor is very valuable to a writer and finding the right one for you is key to success! I'm a reader so posts like this are fascinating for me, all the inner workings of making books and their authors the best that can be :-)

    I have a copy of "Sleigh Bells Ring" so no need to add my name for the draw. Blessing and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  3. Barbara!!!! Good morning to you, my friend! It is delightful to have you here today, and I loved this play by play of editorial tasks... This biz can be either amazingly complex or delightfully simple!! And being able to relate to authors as an author yourself is a big plus.

    I brought fresh coffee!!!! We must start the day right!

    So Barb, you've done contemporaries and historicals. I love mixing them up, I think it keeps me fresher as an author...

    What say you?

    It is so nice to have you with us today!!!

  4. Hi Barbara! Congratulations on your published novella after years of editing. I can hardly wait to get my hands on Sleigh Bells Ring.

    Thank you for the great post on editing. It was enlightening.

    Cindy W.

  5. Welcome, Barbara. Congratulations on your novella!
    I've learned so much about the editing process this past year. Your post is spot on.
    So far, my experience has only been a positive one and one that's made my writing stronger.
    Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to be entered into the drawing.

  6. Good morning, Barbara! Thanks so much for sharing with us today and congratulations on your novella. It sounds like a great story!

    The first editor I paid took away my voice, and I didn't even realize it until an agent pointed it out. That took about a year, and then I had to rediscover how to get my voice back in writing. I learned to be very careful about reading critiques, contest entry replies, and editor responses. (My small critique group is great about not stepping on my voice.)

    Thanks for sharing, and I'd love to have my name tossed in the hat. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara. Nice to see you on the other side of the curtain!

    Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones and pumpkin bagels. Okay, fine I brought plain too. :)

    Happy Thanksgiving Eve.

  8. One thing you write really struck me... "If an editor is successful, even you won’t be able to tell whether you wrote that scintillating sentence…or if it was the editor’s contribution."

    I have a story on the newsstands from Woman's World right now. I had to compare the story to what I submitted as I wasn't sure what had been edited. Oh, that amazing editor! She tweaked so smoothly I really had to look. And boy did she make ME LOOK GOOD.

    Exactly as you said. Thank you God for good editors!

  9. Good morning, you early birds! I'm sorta ready for the day. I've eaten a protein bar and guzzled my first cup of coffee, so at least my eyes are at half staff now.

    Tina, I love everything pumpkin, so thanks for the scones, muffins, and bagels. I'm taking one of the scones and pouring another cup of coffee. I'll be back for more later.

    Bring on the questions, villagers!

  10. I'd love to know what your favorite hat is, writer hat or editor hat?

    (And by the way, are you a pantser or plotter?)

    How amazing to have you for an editor since you are also a writer. You know the blood and sweat behind the product more than most.

  11. Marianne and Cindy, you're in the drawing. Trixi, I hope you enjoy the read!

    Now to your comment, RUTHY...Since I love to read both historical and contemporary books, it seems as natural as breathing to switch back and forth as an editor. With a historical, I keep my eagle eye out for accuracy...once caught Earl Grey tea sneaking onboard a ship before it was "invented"...and language true to the times.

    Here's the rub though. Publishers want to "brand" you as either a contemporary or historical author. It seems unfair and ridiculous, but marketing data has shown them that readers won't follow an author to another genre. Publishers don't want to "confuse" your readers. I'm in that dilemma right now.

    Oh...that Goggle or Blogger error message comes up when I preview my comments, so I'll be posting without editing. SHAMEFUL! If you find any mistakes, chalk it up to a computer glitch.

  12. Congrats Barbara on your novella!Please place my name in the drawing. So many editors--who would have thought? Do I dare say it takes a village to make a book?

    So how much credence do we give to critiques? Like Jackie said, I've had comments that both encouraged and discouraged on the same submission with much dwelling on grammar rather than story. Is it better to just write that great story or to spend hours trying to figure what the overused words are in your tale?
    Thank you for sharing on Seekerville.

  13. JILL, I'm so glad your first editing experience has been a positive one. May it always be so!!

    JACKIE, some editors can't resist tinkering with an author's voice. Instead of crawling inside the author's head and asking how she would rewrite a sentence, they sit on their ivory thrones and insist their way is the only way to word a sentence. [Insert horn sound.] Wrong.

    I'm so glad you persevered. Some new authors quit, thinking they just don't have what it takes. Voice is what makes each author unique. Treasure it!!

  14. Good morning, Barbara.

    Congratulations on getting back to your first love! What a blessing to be on both sides of the desk. Great perspectives to share and utilize yourself.

    This is a super-keeper post, one I'll be sure to share with my local writers group also. I love that you not only include the flavors of editors but also more about what each specialty brings to the book.

    Thank you for being in Seekerville today and wow on the terrific RT review. Know that is exciting for you and your fellow authors!! All the best with your latest.

    Happy HAPPY Thanksgiving one and all in Seekerville!

  15. TINA, now that's a good edit if even you can't tell who wrote what after it's finished.

    If I were indendently wealthy or willing to live in an unheated garret, I'd put on my writer's hat and never take it off. But I'm not and won't, so I've finally learned how to switch between the two. For many years though, I stopped writing because I couldn't be the editor I wanted to be and get up at 4 a.m. to write as well. Now that I'm freelancing, I edit for the income to write.

    Maxwell Perkins (check him out on wikipedia) is my hero...the editor of editors. He's the one who worked with Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

    Am I a panster or plotter? A little bit of both I'd say. I do spend a lot of time working the plot out in my head and determining the major plot points, but my characters always take over. I need to rein them in occasionally. Mavericks. But it's fun for me to go along for the ride as a panster.

    And yes, since I've spilled my own blood on the page, it makes me a sympathetic editor.

  16. I am VERY familiar with Max Perkins. Did you know there is a movie about him and Thomas Wolfe? Colin Firth plays Perkins. Genius

  17. Whoa! And it's free to view for Amazon Prime Members. I know what I'll be doing after turkey!


  18. LOL BETTIE! It does take a village to deliver a published book to the shelves. If you decide to go indy, it's essential to either learn how to operate all those moving parts, or hire others who are gifted in that area.

    "So how much credence do we give to critiques?" A good critique can be invaluable. For instance, even though I'm an experienced editor, I turned the first couple of chapters of my historical novel over to RUTHY for her comments. Oh. my. gosh! Her comments were spot on!!! Once she pointed out I that I should start the first chapter a few pages in, I cut the whole first scene. She was so right.

    In fact, I can't tell you how many times I've suggested to an author that they begin their novel with the third chapter. Many times, writers spend the first chapter or two delivering a "backstory dump."

    If a critique only consists of correcting your grammar and spelling, it only tells you one thing. You need to work harder correcting your grammar and spelling before you send your manuscript in for a critique. If you get snarky comments, ignore them.

    But just because you disagree with a comment, doesn't make it wrong. Remain teachable and pray about the comment. Seek the input of other authors. Veteran Villagers will tell you how invaluable those contest critiques were and led to their first sale.

  19. Hi Barbara
    This is an awesome post for clarification of EDITORVILLE. Hooray that editors are regular people. Whew... that's a relief. I do know that they are smart. I learned that from the Killer Voice manuscript I completed. My team editor pegged me right on the moment I got lost. Makes me trust her much more. She was very nice and encouraging. Of course, I've got the benefit of the wise ladies of Seekerville as back-up should I ever experience something not so good. SAFETY NET!

    I would LOVE to win a copy of Sleigh Bells Ring. It's been on my wish list, waiting for my book budget to give approval. (so many good books, not enough cash...*heavy sigh...*)

    Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and humor with Seekerville.

  20. MAY THE K-9 SPY AND KC FRANTZEN...Thanks! I love my writer's hat. It still fits after all these years. I'm glad my post is a keeper. I hope it unravels a bit of the publishing process for you and your group. :)

  21. Congrats Barbara on your novella!Please place my name in the drawing. So many editors--who would have thought? Do I dare say it takes a village to make a book?

    So how much credence do we give to critiques? Like Jackie said, I've had comments that both encouraged and discouraged on the same submission with much dwelling on grammar rather than story. Is it better to just write that great story or to spend hours trying to figure what the overused words are in your tale?
    Thank you for sharing on Seekerville.

  22. TINA, no, I didn't know about GENIUS!!! Thanks for the link to the trailer. Happy dancing!!! That's one I have to watch.

  23. Good morning, DEBH! Editorville can be a little intimidating for the new traveler, but most editors really do want you to succeed and are good at what they do. Seekerville is the best, isn't it?!!!

    You're in the drawing!

  24. TINA! I'm an Amazon Prime Member! I've never gotten a movie from them, so gulp, sometime today I'll hop over there. Wish me luck.

  25. Thanks for coming to Seekerville, Barbara! Happy Thanksgiving! Great info about the different types of editors. A great editor helps an author so much.

  26. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, CARA!! I'll spend my Thanksgiving on a plane tomorrow, but I hope there will be turkey at the end of the rainbow. ;-)

  27. Barbara, This was an excellent overview of what the various edits should do for an author's work. I can still remember my first editorial letter, and my thoughts: It was good enough to get accepted. Why does it need to be changed?

    A good editor makes all the difference, and I can attest from personal experience that you're one of the best. Happy thanksgiving.

  28. Happy Thanksgiving, Richard! If a writer has never been edited before, I tell them my story of the first development edit I ever received. I wanted to throw myself across the bed and cry for three days, sure that I was a failure. lol

    Thanks for the compliment. You were easy to edit...and still one of my favorite people and authors. :) You've published 10 books now, right, since we first met in that long line at ACFW?

  29. TINA, I couldn't figure out how to watch GENIUS on my Prime Membership, so I bought it. I used a $25 gift card I hadn't used. It's a miracle I hadn't spent it yet. This is one movie I'll watch more than once.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

    On my second cup of coffee, folks, and planted in my chair for the day. Do I get bathroom breaks?

  30. Good Morning Barbara And welcome to Seekerville. What a great and informative post. I think it is important for authors to be aware of the different types of editing and editors out there. My experience with editors I've worked with has always been wonderful. They definitely made my books shine and made them better.

    Finding an editor that likes your style of writing is truly like finding a needle in a haystack and then treasuring it with thankfulness. smile

    It is really fun to work with an editor who has been on both sides of the fence. Best wishes on your writing activities. I'm excited to read your Christmas story.

    Thanks again for joining us today. Have a fun day.

  31. I'll take some of Ruthy's coffee and a pumpkin bagel, Miss Tina. Thanks for bringing thiose.

  32. OOOH - thanks Tina.
    We'll be tuning in to that film also.

    Barbara, I'm sure they will be pleased. Nearly everyone has published something but mostly articles or memoirs. Some have published church/inspirational type things. It's a good group!
    Know they will be pleased.

    Happy day and sure - go take a break. You deserve it!

    Loved hearing about your characters. Mine too. I mean, who knew May was a spy?! ;)

  33. Hi That happened to me when I was first starting to write. I was so anxious to get published, I hired an editor and she did the same thing. Changed my voice to hers. My mom who was typing my manuscripts at that time (this was before home computers) clued me in. I had no idea that had happened.

    But a good editor will make suggestions and let you do the changing. Then you don't change your voice.

  34. Good morning, Sandra, and thanks for the invite! The bond between an editor and author is priceless and often grows into friendship. I'm still in contact with the authors I acquired at Abingdon Press. They are dear to my heart. My greatest joy has been to follow their careers and watch them flourish with other publishers. Truly, I'm their biggest cheerleader!

    I hope you enjoy Sleigh Bells Ring. You probably know this, but I wrote it in the month I had major back surgery. I learned a lot about myself and how to push through to make that deadline. Of course, I had the advantage of forced confinement to my recliner and a bag of frozen peas to ease the pain. The best pain reliever of all was to immerse myself in a Kentucky blizzard on Sophie's childhood horse farm.

    Then I was privileged to swing over to editing Cowboy Christmas Homecoming written by talented Seeker Villagers Ruth Logan Herne, Julie Lessman, Mary Conneally, and Anna Schmidt. I felt as though I'd won the lottery!! They're some of my favorite authors!!

  35. SANDRA, you said, "But a good editor will make suggestions and let you do the changing. Then you don't change your voice."

    So true. During a development edit, I insert a lot of suggestions, considerations, comments, and questions in the margins of the manuscript. I don't demand an author make changes. My name doesn't end up on the cover. Instead, I will write something like this: "Sandra, have you considered..." or "I would suggest..." or "How could you rewrite this bit of dialogue to make it seem more authentic..."

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  36. MAY THE K-9 SPY AND (KC FRANTZEN)...thanks for permission to take a break. I tend to get so focused, I forget to drink my water or take a bathroom break. Not a good thing.

    You wrote, "Loved hearing about your characters. Mine too. I mean, who knew May was a spy?! ;)"

    Exactly! I had a vague idea that I'd make Sophie an equine vet. What did I know about the care and healing of horses? Research was so much fun. I now know about equine flu and how to give a horse a physical exam. lol

  37. Barbara, this was an awesome post! I received a revision request from a contest earlier this year. The editor's suggestions were truly helpful, even though it was hard for me to toss the first twelve pages to start the story where she suggested! I worked hard on those!!! I'd love to be in the drawing for Sleigh Bells Ring. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  38. Barbara I need an editor for my life. Every email, every blog comment.

    My fingers are out of control, just typing anything they want.

  39. Welcome, Barbara--my VERY FIRST editor!!! I learned so much from you during that process that has carried over into every book I've written since.

    Also--thanks to your advice--I keep CMS-15 and MWCD-11 always within arm's reach!

    I've now had the privilege of working with several very talented and insightful editors . . . as well as one or two that I hope never to encounter again. Grammar Queen gets very upset when a copyeditor wants to make a change GQ knows to be incorrect--and can prove it with CMS references!

    And the editors who get their jollies messing with the author's voice? Point me to the Editorville volcano!!!!

  40. In an earlier comment, BARBARA said:

    "If a critique only consists of correcting your grammar and spelling, it only tells you one thing. You need to work harder correcting your grammar and spelling before you send your manuscript in for a critique."

    Speaking from my personal experience as a critique partner, I agree 100%. Too many grammar and spelling errors blind me to the actual story. And once Grammar Queen steps in, there is no stopping her!

  41. MICHELLE, Happy Thanksgiving to you as well! One of these days, we should all gather up those pages we've cut and publish a book. We could title it, "How Not to Write a Novel." lol I'm so glad the contest suggestions were a plus.

    You're in the drawing!

  42. MARY, and I don't???? I'm slow posting because I read every word over a zillion times, and then I miss stuff. Every writer needs an editor.

    And if I try to post or write a text on my "Smart" phone? Forget it. Auto correct is evil. I got a text from someone the other day, and instead of the word "being," auto correct changed it to Beijing. Pretty funny.

  43. Yikes! This is a lot to keep track of! My only editor is my dad who will go through and proofread my work. I have to pester him to get what he thought of the plot structure and characters of my story because he's not a very opinionated person, and he definitely doesn't like to express his opinions- especially not of the books he's read. When he was reading my second book he did tell me some things that he had problems with. One was that my book was too problematic for my characters so I deleted a scene to try to make it so that my characters don't experience as many bad things, and another was that my bad guy seemed to be too knowledgeable of certain things. I knew why my bad guy was like that because I knew his backstory (a backstory that I forgot to write), but my dad didn't so I had to go back and add in my bad guy's backstory. Unfortunately I didn't realize that this would start a landslide which would end with me almost completely rewriting the last bit of my book...

    Please don't enter my name for Sleigh Bells Ring because I already have it.

  44. MYRA, I'm so glad to see you here today. We had fun on your first book, didn't we? Well, I did. I know it must have been painful for you at times, but it looks like One Imperfect Christmas is still a hit. :)

    Those reference books are still within my reach, and I use them every day. Even I had to push back on changes to Sleigh Bells Ring and cite the CMS reference. Not every editor is cut from the same cloth.

    I like your idea about finding the Editorville volcano. I'm thinkin' a drone strike should take care of it.

  45. Well said, Grammar Queen. Never let simple spelling mistakes and obvious grammar errors get in between you and a good critique.

  46. Laughing at the computer nonsense!

    The nice thing about indie publishing.... and changing times... is that some publishers are having fun with authors being on both sides of the time-fence. I really admire that.

    I compare writing to teaching: if we teach the same subject matter, year after year, we get stale, students get turned off.

    If we only write one kind of story, we get stale, readers get turned off. Now I know this doesn't always happen... but it has happened, and writers need to stay on top of their game.

    But I do see the publisher point: They want the author's work to sell, sell, sell. Otherwise why would they buy us?

  47. I have never had anything edited. I have had some critiqued. I found the critiques helpful. I could see where I needed to fix something or fine tune a sentence. I have been working on my babies but not certain they are ready to be read by an editor yet.I look forward to having an editor because I know my babies need the fine tuning and tweaking. I will admit it is a little intimidating.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  48. I know, NICKY, right? I'm glad your dad reads your manuscripts, but you might want to branch out and find a local writers group or a critique group online. I never let my husband read my initial manuscript. He thinks everthing I do is brilliant, and when he reads the published book? I feel like Wonder Woman. He loves every word. Makes me feel good, but not helpful. :)

    Enjoy reading Sleigh Bells Ring! My husband said my novella is the best. LOL

  49. LOL. I am sure your novella IS the best, Barb. Husband or no.

  50. Yes, RUTHY! Indie publishing has opened a whole new world for authors. If you're known for your romance, you can self-publish your suspense if no one else wants it. It's nice to be in the drivers' seat as an author.

    I hate stale bread...and books. I completely agree with you. It's so disappointing when an author I love so well starts writing "dreck." Every new book has the same plot. I had this experience with two of my favorite authors lately. The books weren't worth the price of admission. Dreadful. Sloppy. Predictable. It was obvious they didn't even want to write those novels, but the paycheck was probably good.

    I loved it when John Grisham branched out and wrote The Painted House, but he was crucified for abandoning his legal suspense. I bet he didn't care. :)

  51. If you are a Prime member you download it to your computer or device to watch. We have our computer connected to the living room TV so we can watch it there too.

    We can compare notes on the movie next week. LOL.

  52. I will be eating with four kids under age 7.... We'll be watching football and "The Muppet Christmas Carol". :)

    I love The Muppet Christmas Carol.... It's such a favorite!!!!

  53. Good morning, Barbara! I have two questions for you. First, I love writing both historical and contemporary and have several novels written in each genre. Do you think a writer can still publish in both genres under two different names?

    My next question is regarding your job as a developmental editor. I've often thought about becoming a DE, since I naturally think in terms of structure and content when I critique. I love it as much as I do writing. How do you become a DE and do you need a degree with a certain emphasis? Also, how would you break in to the industry? Would you need to work out of an office, or is it something you can start by freelancing from your home?

    Lots of questions for you today. I would love to be included in your drawing for Seigh Bells Ring, as well. I'm making you work today, lol. Thank you so much for your post. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  54. Wilani, hang in there and keep writing! One thing I know about the Lord, He can open doors that you've never dreamed of. Let your baby birds fly and turn your attention to the eggs in the nest. Sometimes it's easier to keep rewriting the same piece, but you can also edit the life out of out. Happy Thanksgiving!

  55. Thanks, Tina. But my coauthors are awesome...and so are their novellas. ;-)

    I'll be gone until late Monday afternoon, but we can compare notes on GENIUS after that. Can't wait to see it!!

  56. When you have little ones with you at the holidays, RUTHY, the Muppet movies are perfect family fare. :)

  57. Hello BARBARA, thank you for sharing your wisdom. As a reader, I can see how important it is to choose an editor wisely.

    Please enter me in the drawing for a copy of Sleigh Bells Ring.


  58. I know what you mean about husbands being no help for critiquing our work, Barbara! Now that Project Guy is retired, he always pesters me to read my "final" drafts before I turn them in to my editor or agent. And I always, always, always remind him to look for plot inconsistencies, unrealistic dialogue, and anything at all that doesn't make sense.

    And usually all I get back is stuff like . . . words I accidentally typed twice in a row, or a "the" that should have been an "and," or some other piddly thing I'd have caught on my own final read-through.

    Where he is helpful, though, is when I need a guy's perspective on sports or yard work or cars.

    But yeah, it is nice to know our guys think we're brilliant!!!

  59. BARBARA. welcome to Seekerville!! Thanks for a succinct explanation of all the kinds of editors and what they do. I've been blessed to have wonderful editors with input that has helped me make my stories the very best they can be. Thanks for what you do. Wishing you much success with your writing.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.


  60. RENEE, you are making me sing for my supper. LOL Here are your questions from above:

    "First, I love writing both historical and contemporary and have several novels written in each genre. Do you think a writer can still publish in both genres under two different names?"

    In the general market, it's perfectly acceptable to write under a nom de plume (just showing off my French). Think Nora Roberts who also writes as J.D. Robb. But in the Christian market, not so much. Why? Because the author's image, background story, and attendance at writers conferences are all important facets of your "brand."

    I hope Vanetta Chapman won't mind me using her as an example. Vanetta is well-known for her Amish fiction, but she wanted to branch out into suspense, so she indie-published a series. Wow! Can she write an action-packed, page-turning, bite-your-nails suspense novel, or what!! I highly recommend them! Check her out on Amazon. Now she's writing dystopian for Harvest House. She made a successful transition, but she's still widely known for her Amish books.

    "My next question is regarding your job as a developmental editor. I've often thought about becoming a DE, since I naturally think in terms of structure and content when I critique. I love it as much as I do writing. How do you become a DE and do you need a degree with a certain emphasis? Also, how would you break in to the industry? Would you need to work out of an office, or is it something you can start by freelancing from your home?"

    Whew! There are so many paths to DE-hood. Before I became a DE, I earned a B.A. in English as well as interned for a newspaper. I spent 12 years as a journalist. Then I broke into magazines, while writing novels that never sold. They're collecting dust in my closet. After becoming a Christian, I worked as a temp to write. Not very lucrative, but it gave me time. My first writing/editing job in the CBA world was working for a ministry, showing up at an office every day, until I finally hired in as an editor at Honor Books, acquiring and editing gift books/devotionals. From there I went to Zonderkidz, where I edited my first tween novels for Nancy Rue. I then made the leap YA fiction at Zondervan, which led to my job as the senior acquisitions editor for Abingdon Press charged with launching a new fiction program. Along the way, I picked up freelance editing gigs from editors who knew me from conferences and admired my work.

    Now, I edit for various publishers, as well as individuals, from home. I don't think there is a straight path to becoming a DE, nor the perfect background, although if you want a full-time job with a publishing house, you'll need a college degree in English, Creative Writing, Journalism, or something similar.

    Some publishers only use freelancers and either hire them directly, or more common now, go through an agency who takes care of all the assignments and administrative work for them. All of them will want you to take an editing test.

    I don't know if that helps at all, but I believe prayer works. Ask the Lord to point you in the right direction, and if its His plan for you, nothing can stop your dream. However, be prepared for a long road. He might do it in a flash, but He had to keep me on the potter's wheel a loooonnnnnggg time.

    Best wishes!

  61. Yikes, those are long answers. You might want to wait until later to read through all of those comments.

    1. Wonderful answers. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions so honestly and thoroughly. You certainly earned your pumpkin muffins!

      Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  62. You're in the drawing, CARYL. Happy Thanksgiving!

  63. Makes for a happy marriage, doesn't it, MYRA? LOL As a resource, Mike is golden. As a critique partner, not so much. ;-)

  64. Thanks for your warm welcome, JANET! I'm so glad you've had a positive experience with editors. A blessing, indeed. Have a great holiday!

  65. Barb, what are you working on next, WRITER HAT WISE. Of course, that should have been written WRITER-HAT-WISE. Ever have a hard time turning off your editor side? Do you do much copy editing? Egads, I hope not.

  66. TINA, writer-hat-wise, my agent is shopping my historical romance to one last publisher. If it's not accepted, I'll go back to the drawing board and indie publish it. But since my latest release in Sleigh Bells Ring is a contemporary romance, I'm writing the sample chapters and proposal for a contemporary romance series. Thus, my own dilemma re: genres.

    Yes! I totally have a hard time turning off my editor brain. It doesn't seem as active in the morning, so I can usually throw words on the page without picking them apart. And I'm getting better at not judging myself so harshly on the first draft, mainly because of the time I've spent in Seekerville. I make myself let a manuscript sit awhile before tackling the multiple edits I go through.

    Copyediting? Yuck. Sorry, Grammar Queen. When I edit my own work, I search out every misspelled work and look up grammar rules in CMS. Come to think of it, I do that in second passes on other manuscripts I edit. But I rarely if ever do copyediting as a freelancer.

  67. Anybody out there baking something yummy right now? At least I won't be responsible for the feast on Thanksgiving day.

    In a short while, once hubby comes home to wait for the heating guy, I'll run out for a haircut and a cup of coffee before leaping back onto Seekerville. The heating guy? Yeah, our furnace went kaput last night. It's 64 degrees in the house.

  68. We'll save your spot until you return, Barb. Maybe make some goodies too. Like fresh pies perhaps.

    I'm not baking this year. Marie Callendar is.

  69. Thanks, Tina. Don't you just love Marie? I haven't baked a real pie in...well, forever. Too tempting to eat the whole thing when there's only two of us.

  70. My dad doesn't say so much of that. It's my younger brother who hero worships my books. He reads them before they are published too, but I don't really go by what he says because as far as he is concerned my books are perfect. He says that my second book is his favorite book he has ever read, which is flattering beyond compare. I love him.

  71. BARBARA, so sorry about that furnace. Hope a small part will fix it. Our furnace is on borrowed time, which is a bit unnerving when the temperature drops.


  72. My Travel Guy only reads my books when they're in print. He probably wants the best version. Thanks to my editors. :-)


  73. Barbara, thanks for the informative post.

    It always make me cringe when I read the long list of people who work on a book. I'm unpublished, but it motivates me to write better because I don't want the editors think I didn't do my job.

    I don't even know if that makes sense. LOL.

  74. Barbara, I loved this post. Your wisdom and experience are obvious. :) And, it was just fun to read. :)

    I haven't had an editor read my work per se. Yet. I appreciate your information because it will help me to know what to expect from each editor when that time comes for me. Thinking optimistically, of course.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  75. Barb, do you still do freelancing? And if so, which of the above editing do you do? How should Villagers get in touch with you for an estimate?

  76. Barbara, such a great post and thank you for sharing! Do you find it's hard to remove your editor hat when reading for pleasure or when out and about and you notice a grammar faux pas on a sign or billboard? (Apologies, if you've answered that.)

    I'm reminded of the time, in our local paper, a newspaper reporter wrote what was meant to be an encouraging, uplifting story about a gentleman who'd recovered from a horrific car accident. The headline was something like: "Man Walks Again After Stuck in a Comma for Three Months." I felt bad for the reporter--it was a big story in a prominent section of the newspaper. An unintentional oversight, but I've never forgotten it. Where, oh, where was editor??? Those dreaded commas!!! :-)

  77. Thanks for sharing all this information with us, Barbara! This is definitely going into my Keeper File. :)
    May I echo Tina's question above (about Villagers getting in touch with you for an estimate)?
    Happy Thanksgiving!! Hugs, Patti Jo

  78. I am sending you warm socks and gloves! 64 degrees is not cozy!!!!

    I am doing cookies for my little buddies here tomorrow.... They'll help me with other things in the morning, after Mass, but I'm prepping for our mini-Thankgiving... And then our big family Thanksgiving on Saturday. That way no one's pressed to rush around on Thanksgiving. Turkey and stuffing is not food to be rushed! :)

    Barb, I loved working with you on "A Cowboy for Christmas" my story in Cowboy Christmas Homecoming... it was an absolute delight. And we had fun with all those pioneer stories!!!

  79. Thank you, Barbara, for being with us on this busy pre-Thanksgiving day...and for providing such an informative post about the VIPs in the publishing business who help to make our books shine!

    I love my editor! When she speaks, I listen. She knows what the readers want and she wants how to make my book the best read possible. For that, I'm so, so grateful. I also love the other editors who go over my manuscript, catch typos, errors, inconsistencies and make the story even better. They've got my back, just as you have the backs of your authors. God bless editors! You're a writer's best friend.

    So, BFF, hope you have a joyous Thanksgiving! I've been shopping non-stop and have enough food for an army, literally. Can't wait to gather with the family and offer up our thanks for 2016. It's been a wonderful year.

  80. Connie, that makes perfect sense! I think putting our best foot forward is the right thing to do... but having said that, Barb's point about 5 different editors wanting you to change the story 5 different ways is truel... What one editor likes, another may flag. So it's not always that we mess up the story...

    It's that our story might not reflect the editor's vision. That doesn't make them wrong... or us right... it just makes it different.

  81. Okay, y'all, I'm back. Haircut and and out. But here's a Thanksgiving tip. Never make a "quick" stop at Walmart for eyeliner and individual packs of purse-size tissues the day before Thanksgiving. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever.


  82. Connie, it totally makes sense! I'm a total perfectionist, so when I make a mistake, it's a natural disaster. LOL

    NICKY, RENEE, and JANET, thanks for the encouragement. Don't you just love the people who love your writing no matter what? Husbands and brothers are the best. Sisters can be a little more critical. ;-)

  83. JEANNE, your time will come. :) Publishing is a little like have a wisdom tooth pulled. If you know what to expect, it's not nearly as painful.

  84. TINA, yes I still freelance. I do macro/development edits, substantive/line edits, but copyediting and proofreading are not my faves. I do have colleagues though who work through my company--InspyEditor--who will gladly perform those tasks for you. My email address is Thanks for asking!

  85. I'm laughing out loud, CYNTHIA. That poor reporter. He didn't write the editor did. Too funny!

    When I worked as a newspaper editor, a reporter covered the symphony and wrote a review. Who knew Rock Maninoff wrote classical music? Unfortunately, another editor read the copy and missed that one. The mistake made it into the paper the next morning. LOL

    Now to address your question, "Do you find it's hard to remove your editor hat when reading for pleasure or when out and about and you notice a grammar faux pas on a sign or billboard?"

    The short answer is yes. I've stopped reading a "pleasure" book because the characters were caricatures, or I knew the ending after the first chapter of a mystery, or there was so much head hopping in a scene I couldn't keep track of who was speaking. Bad dialogue really gets to me too. And I always spot the grammar faux pas or misspelled words on signs and billboards. It's a hazard of the profession.

    1. I loved this response, Barbara! I'm a freelance editor and a reviewer, and it is extremely hard for me to read anything for pleasure anymore. I find mistakes everywhere! My husband tells me I am unable to turn that side of my brain off, lol :-)

  86. Hugs back Patti Jo, and Happy Thanksgiving! Again, my email address is

  87. RUTHY, I'm wearing socks, but I have enough trouble hitting the right keys without wearing gloves. I also have a quilt draped over my lap. I took my pullover off though because it's up to 67 in here. Heat wave! And the heater guy still hasn't shown up. They're "working" us in.

    The cookies sound wonderful about now. Peanut butter? Chocolate chip? Snickerhadoodles? I'll take one of whatever you have and a cup of coffee.

    It was fun working on Cowboy Christmas Homecoming together! I loved your novella!! Of course, all of us had to work around what we thought was an edict to never let our characters kiss on the mouth. LOL Glad we got that straightened out for future Gilead authors. We found some pretty enterprising ways for the romance to develop without letting them kiss though. Good writing exercise, huh, Ruthy?

  88. See what happens when you can't preview your post? SnickerHAdoodles? lol

  89. Thanks for the very informative post, Barbara. I don't need this information yet, but hopefully one of these days I will need an editor.

    Please enter me in the drawing for Sleigh Bells Ring. Love the cover.

    Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

  90. Thank you, DEBBY, for your kind words about editors. Have a super wonderful Thanksgiving, girlfriend!! Oh, and your book finally dried out after my husband dropped it in the tub. He piled on a stack of heavy books to flatten it out, so it's almost good as new. A little crinkly, but not bad. ;-)

  91. RUTHY wrote, "Barb's point about 5 different editors wanting you to change the story 5 different ways is true... What one editor likes, another may flag. So it's not always that we mess up the story...It's that our story might not reflect the editor's vision. That doesn't make them wrong... or us right... it just makes it different."

    Absolutely true!!

  92. Sheesh...I've read through my posts and spotted errors. The verification process to post is getting a little annoying. Not only can't I preview and then post, but now I have to use my cursor and DRAW around street signs to verify I'm human! No, I'm not kidding. It's not good enough to click on all the photos with trees. Or boats. Or storefronts. I could be a robot, you know. Apparently, robots can't draw around triangular signs. Neither can I.

  93. You're in the drawing, SANDY. I really love that cover too. It screams, "Christmas!" But for tomorrow, Happy Thanksgiving!

  94. Ah-ha!!!! This explains why I've read an author's thanks to numerous editors in the motes at the end of the book. I'm always thinking, "How many editors does one book need?" And now I know! Thanks for the enlightenment. :-)

  95. Such an interesting post, BARBARA, thank you! I can tell from the authors' praises here that you're a good editor, and I can tell by your responses to the comments that you're also an encourager. Both are so important.

    I'm hoping to need editors someday soon, so I really appreciate how you presented the differences in what they each offer. Due to writing a book that's part suspense and part romance, but apparently not enough of either I'm at the I'm-SOOOO-confused stage of my writing career. Am I a suspense writer? A romance writer? A soap opera actress? I'm rapidly entering the I'm-going-to-crawl-under-the-bed-and-not-be-anybody stage of my career. I'm only kidding, of course. I won't fit under the bed.

    CONNIE, I thought what you said made perfect sense.

    CYNTHIA, I loved your story! After years of working in newspapers I've seen my fair share of those, too.

    Happy Thanksgiving Seekers and Villagers!!!

  96. LAURA, I'm sure you'll need an editor any day now! :-) People love the romantic suspense genre, so it's just a matter of the right balance. Truth be told, we've all been a little confused at one time or another. Hang in there!

  97. KAV, now you know why Acknowledgment pages are so long. Add in the marketing, P.R. people, and sales reps, plus your family, critique partners, and all those people who've ever encouraged or helped you in any way, and you've almost got yourself another book. LOL

  98. BARB!!! Please forgive my tardiness -- been baking pies and packing to visit family for Thxgiving, so this is a welcome break!

    WOW, you clarified SO much for me, my friend, so THANK YOU!!

    YOU ASKED: "Has anyone ever edited your writing? How did it make you feel?
    Tell us about your experience—the good, the bad, and the ugly."

    Uh, yeah. I had a pretty awful experience that turned into an AMAZING one, so prayer sure turned it around. On my first book, A Passion Most Pure, I had a copy editor that made me feel stupid and made me cry for a solid four days before I finally went to my agent to intervene.

    Because I was a newbie, I thought I just had to take it and do things her way, but this person literally deleted lines, wrote new ones, and changed words/sentences throughout the entire book WITHOUT TRACKED CHANGES!! Yes, you heard me -- I'm sitting there proofing the galleys and every few seconds I got a tic in my eye because the rhythm of my book is soooo out of whack. I'd stared at a sentence I KNEW I didn't write, then check my original, and I found over 400 major changes like that. This editor even made rude comments in the margins, saying about one scene, that if making Faith come off immature was my goal, then I succeeded. In almost 500 pages, she never gave me one compliment. It was pretty obvious to me that this person did NOT like my style nor the book.

    Fortunately for me, my agent went straight to my AE to complain, and guess what my editor said? She said, "Julie, this is your book, so if you are not satisfied with the changes the copy editor is making, change them back unless it's in direct opposition to company policy."

    So it took me another few days to go back and change all 400 edits back to how I had them. I told my editor that I wanted a new copy editor on all future books, and she agreed. And OH. MY. GOODNESS!! I got the MOST WONDERFUL copy editor who is a dear friend today. She always asked about changes she would make, but give me the last word, and she actually wrote compliments throughout every ms., encouraging me to no end. So out of the ashes of a horrible experience, God brought the best copy editor and a dear friend. :)

    And you know what? It was the same EXACT way working with you on Cowboy Christmas Homecoming, my friend -- so easy and SO much fun, just like my copy editor friend above!! And guess what? Her name was Barb too! ;)


  99. JULIE, I'm so happy you were able to pop in for a minute!! I missed you! I imagine a lot of other people are busy preparing for the holiday tomorrow too.

    It's so important for newbies to realize the important role an agent plays in the process. If edits seem over the top, talk to your agent and express your concerns. It's their job to push back. It's your book, and your name will appear on the cover. When a change is made, acknowledge the editor when it makes the manuscript stronger. Learn which hills to die on. What you've described, Julie, is flagrant abuse of power.

    I'm so glad you got a new editor! I loved working with you!!!


  100. The heater guy is here! Yay!!! Hopefully, I won't wake up with frost on my nose tomorrow morning!

  101. Hurrah! Barb!

    Give him a cup of egg nog to go when he's done.

  102. And here is the interesting thing on the verification process. We have it turned OFF.

    Try not using it. Just don't. I ignore it and never use it.

  103. Well, I'm going to shuffle off to Buffalo and take the lasagne out of the oven. Have a blessed Thanksgiving tomorrow!!! Adios!

  104. Thanks for the copy editing connection. They are in big demand these days.

    Glad to know we can reach out and touch your company.

  105. You're welcome, TINA! If I can be of any help, shoot me an email Thanks for being such a gracious hostess. Seekerville rocks!

  106. Barbara, thank you, thank you, thank you! The explanation of the different editorial duties is so easy to understand, so concise. Did I say thank you? :-)

    Nancy C

  107. Barbara, I am simply blown away by this wonderful post and information. You are an angel. I am a Bambi-legged newbie as far as daring to submit a word, but I am praying and doing my best to work my way there.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It gave so much wonderful information. I truly appreciate your efforts. Thanks for opening this woman's eyes to a whole new aspect of the writing process.

  108. "To err is human."
    "To edit is humane."
    "To edit is humanely is divine."

    Hi Barbara:

    My advertising copy was edited for years until I became the copy chief and then I was the editor. Before the old copy chief left he gave me this advice: "Don't edit copy just to be the way you would have written it. We don't need two of you. Edit to improve the selling power of the copy or correct mistakes."

    I found out that not editing copy to be the way I would have written it was the hardest part of my job. I suppose this applies to all kinds of manuscript editing at all levels.

    I think the industry needs marketing editors. This person should look at proposals and show what changes or additions would greatly increase the marketability of the end product. I believe in giving the marketing department help! :)

    Please enter me in the drawing for the Christmas novella and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.


  109. BARBARA SAID: "Learn which hills to die on."

    LOL ... AMEN TO THAT!! And I died on plenty, I guarantee you!

    YAY!!! Soooo glad the heater guy arrived, Barb! And, yes, praying you do NOT wake up with frost on you nose tomorrow morning, my friend! ;)

    VINCE SAID: ""To err is human. To edit is humane. To edit is humanely is divine."

    LOL ... Vince, I just LOVE you, my friend. Your brain is like no other!!

    Hugs and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to Barb and everyone!


  110. Welcome, Barbara, and thanks for the enlightening post. It's helpful to get your perspective as both an editor and author. I had a writing coach edit a chunk of one of my novels and her extensive notes were real eye-openers.

    Vince, the advice you received is something we try to emphasize to the members of our critique group. It's not easy to identify what would make a piece better and do so without wanting to re-write sections in our own way.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends in Seekerville.

  111. I just got back my first copyedit on a book I'm planning to send to the Kindle Scout program next year. The thing I'm noticing is two grammar issues that I've always had in my head as "x" and the editor is telling me that it's "y." Going back to my grammar studies to get a better appreciation of these two items.

  112. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Barb and thank YOU for sharing your time and knowledge!

  113. JULIE, I would have died! I. Can't. Even!!!!! Hear, Hear to following what had to be a Holy Spirit nudge and addressing this issue. (Nary one compliment throughout the entire book??? Did she READ the book???)

    BARBARA, re my comment earlier... I never thought about that. THE "editor" wrote the headline? Go figure. I wish I still had the paper. I kept it for months, but alas--had to let it go to the recycle bin. Thanks for the super post today. Great fun!

  114. My first manuscript has been through these edits. It took a little time to relax with all the rearranging and reworking. The editors have all been kind and encouraging. Now my manuscript shines. :)

    I remember a magazine editor that sent my flash fiction back with some french phrase about my writing (I assumed it was an insult. At least it felt that way because I don't know french.) He suggesting I needed more writing training. Considering I'd been writing for years and been published in that very magazine earlier it stung. This editor was young and lacked the training to send a gracious and helpful rejection letter. If I was less confident in myself I might have given up on writing at that point.
    Put my name in the drawing please.

  115. I had no idea there were different kinds of editors. :-) (clearly I am reader.) Thanks for your interesting post. I enjoyed learning.

    Becky--who would love to be in the drawing.

  116. I was amazed that there are so many different editors. Thanks for sharing. Barbara, congrats on your new novella.

  117. Barbara, great post! I'm not much of a writer but recall times when a teacher or friend's insightful suggestions have greatly improved an assignment or other piece! And actually I worked for years as an editor, and still freelance now. My strengths tend towards copyediting and proofreading :) Editors do important work!

    Best wishes to you, and looking forward to your latest story!