How to be a Novel Editor

Are you seeking direction on how to be a novel editor?

For those who love words, the question of how to become a novel editor can be an exciting start or an overwhelming obstacle. Here I share some tips on how to make it happen!

I quit smoking more than twenty years ago. This doesn’t make me an expert on dealing with addiction.

I broke my ankle last July and have recovered full function since then. This doesn’t make me an expert in physical therapy.

But I am an expert in storytelling and in editing works of fiction. Yes, I wrote some novels that were published by traditional publishers.

developmental editing for fiction.

But I also have Ph.D in English literature, for which I studied how stories work; I have countless hours of professional development as a writer and editor (including classes, workshops, conferences, and more); I have been taught by mentors on the job for many years; I have watched and experienced how other editors work; I have networked with hundreds of colleagues to understand how they work and to identify best practices; I read and critique dozens of stories/novels a year to identify how they work (or how they don’t); I listen carefully to the feedback of students and clients; and, most important of all, I am willing to adjust what I know when I encounter new information.

That’s how you develop expertise in a subject matter.

Personal experience is always a great place to start (for example, you’ve written a novel or you had a manuscript edited) but it’s not the end. It’s the first step.

If you want to move beyond your own personal experience to understand how to edit for others, the self-paced package of classes, DE 1 – 6, is a great place to start.

Other Helpful Content

  • Growing a Developmental Editing Mindset

    Editors, may I offer some suggestions on growing a developmental editing mindset? Beginning developmental editors sometimes ask me how “awful” books make it onto the New York Times bestseller list, and how can we worry about what makes a story “good” when obviously quality doesn’t matter to readers? How do “bad” books make it through…

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  • Developing a Story Editor Attitude

    Developing a story editor attitude is not about being right or wrong, but more of a subjective approach to helping authors create their best writing. In story development/developmental editing, there’s really no such thing as being “right” about an issue. When you’re doing copyediting at least you can say, “Chicago recommends the use of the…

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  • Why Providing Clear Guidance Matters for Editors

    In the Club Ed membership group, we were discussing a (published) how-to book aimed at writers. One of the editors mentioned how the information was presented in a confusing way and that this made it difficult for her to continue reading. Then she remarked, “My mind is generally in a state of burden.” I don’t…

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how to become an editor

New to story editing? Begin at the beginning.

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