Your Editor: Saving You from Yourself

How many of us would have read a novel or gone to see a movie if its title were Trimalchio in West Egg or The High-Bouncing Lover? Yet those were titles under serious consideration by F. Scott Fitzgerald before his editor convinced him to change it to The Great Gatsby. The rest is history. You can read more about the relationship between the editor Maxwell Perkins and writers such as Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Ernest Hemingway in this excellent article recently published in Publishers Weekly

The point should be obvious: if even great writers such as these needed editors, then you do, too.The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector,” Hemingway famously wrote. “This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.” But let’s face it, most of us lack the ability to see our writing in clear, objective fashion. We are too close to our writing. Our precious words are too much a part of ourselves. And they will not go gently into the trash bin. Yet time and again I hear fellow writers tell me that they do all their own editing, or that their English teacher sisters, aunts, or spouses do it for them. Yes, we all need to edit ourselves as we write and revise. And we can all use a little help from critical readers. But there comes a time when we must divorce ourselves from our work to see it as others—namely readers—might see it. And that is where your editor comes in.

Some writers are fortunate to have editors assigned to them by their publishing houses. Other  writers, like myself, have had the good fortune to work with magazine or newspaper editors whose job it is to shape a rough manuscript into a thing of beauty. And I think of all the good editors at literary journals around the globe who tirelessly read our submissions, rejecting most of them, but finally choosing ours to represent their publications or, more rarely, sharing their helpful comments on what would make a story or poem work for them. I am grateful to these editors, too, who have helped me become a better writer not only by accepting my work, but by rejecting it. Some of these editors have even become friends. Yet, with the increased availability of self-publishing options, so often today writers rush into self-publishing without first vetting their work in this time-honored fashion.

Despite my early positive experiences with editors, when it came time to publish my first novel I too was pig-headed. After all, I was a pretty mean editor myself (or so I thought). I also had the help of my lovely spouse and first reader. Best of all, I had my sister “editor,”  who—you guessed it—just happens to be an English teacher. What else did I need? A lot, it turned out. The self-publishing process was a painful, brutal, but ultimately useful lesson in just why I needed an editor. As Exhibit A, one example comes to mind. The original working title of my middle grade novel was actually “How to Get Rid of Your Family.” It sounds like the main character killed and chopped up his family, then stuffed them into the trunk of a Chevrolet wagon. Fortunately cooler heads prevailed, and I changed the title to The Family That Wasn’t. Though the book was eventually self-published and went on to favorable reviews, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble by having a professional editor in the first place. Oh well, some of us have to learn the hard way.

Which brings me to the real reason why I wrote this post. I’d like to introduce you to my friend and editor—not my wife or sister, but one who does this for a living—Kate Robinson. I’ll let her tell you why need an editor:

Each writer has a different approach to the writing craft. For me, the creative process is as essential as taking my next breath. I write to understand, exploring life’s mandala through the perspectives of “reality” and “imagination.”

Why hire an editor?  Sometimes writers need a fresh pair of eyes, some pre-publication polish, or coaching to hone their writing chops.

Kate Robinson at Starstone Lit Services specializes in proofreading, editing, evaluation, and creative consultation for fiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction writers. Experienced, thoughtful evaluation and editing of soft sci-fi, fantasy / slipstream, historical, chick lit, thriller, mystery, and literary works; poetry, memoir, and young adult / juvenile fiction and nonfiction. Also available for consultation, editing, and proofreading for textbook and academic writers and publishers, as well as for business professionals: theses, dissertations, journal articles, resumes, brochures, business letters, print or internet advertising, blog and website copy, and mass mailings. Indexing services for selected nonfiction topics and e-book conversions and print formatting for all standard manuscripts.

Reasonable hourly rate, reasonable turnaround. Free 5-page sample edit/evaluation/estimate for book-length manuscripts, 1-3 pages for academic papers / short manuscripts.

Whether an emerging or an expert writer, Kate Robinson will help you birth your fascinating, award-winning book!

You can find Kate and Starstone Lit Services at these links:



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