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#126 NY Book Editors

126 NY Editors Headshot-Logo.jpg

Ever caught yourself thinking "I could never write like that?" when reading a published book?

It's so important to remember that a lot goes on behind the scenes between writing "the end" and seeing the book out in the world. It's hard to remember that beyond the drafts the author goes through, there are also rounds of edits that follow.

This week, I chat with the founder and two editors from Ny Book Editors, a company that employs editors with Big 5 publishing experience to work with authors planning to publish both traditionally and independently. Whether you're a fiction writer or working on non-fiction, we've got you covered.

Get ready to take notes PLUS listen to learn about the before and after download we've made to show what a piece of writing looked like fresh from the writer and after the editor had reviewed it. Finally! We're taking you behind the scenes into the transformation from draft to finished manuscript. Happy listening.

Discussed in Episode 126 with the Editor Panel

  • Natasa Lekic

  • Aaron Schlechter

  • Zach Gajewski

  • Natasa founded NY Book Editors around six years ago. Idea was to bring the same caliber of editing you get in traditional publishing to the independent pub space. 

  • Now they still do that, but also serve as a stepping stone to help new writers find agents & traditional pub deals. 

  • Different editing roles

    • Developmental

    • Line editing

    • Proofreading edit

  • Developmental is structural, big-picture editing. 

  • Line editing is pacing, prose, etc. 

  • The line edit is prior to the copy edit. 

  • Author may not know what stage of editing they’re at. 

  • For prescriptive non-fiction, often a good developmental editing pass at the beginning is a good idea, to make sure the whole idea is there. 

  • Fiction editor will commonly come in later in the process, after several drafts have been written, when the book is “done”. Of course it‘s not. 

  • “It‘s really hard to see the forest for the trees.”
    On the myopia of being so close to a manuscript to see its flaws.

  • “I try not to read other novels when I‘m working with an author.”
    On making sure each writer‘s voice is their own.

  • “It‘s just so exciting to watch people grow.”
    On why editors like to work with a writer over time.

  • For prescriptive non-fiction it helps to:

    • have done the market research to see what‘s already been written around your idea.

    • Have an audience/platform already

    For fiction:

  • “The first 15% and the last 15% are the most important.” On the essential part of your book to get right.

  • Beautiful, fluid language is great, but doesn‘t matter if you‘re not connected to a character or a setting or both.

  • “I always try to read 30 pages.”
    On the brutal truth of the editing business.

  • “I‘m not going to say ‘machete’ any more. Let‘s go with ‘meat cleaver’.”

  • Even though publishers are going to sell your book based on its similarity to an established book, “It‘s just like Michael Crighton,” it‘s a terrible idea to write that way. Write in your own voice.

  • “Leave it to the people at the sales force to make up the lies about what the book is like.”

  • “In general, honestly, I think platform is bullshit.”
    On why Fiction can speak for itself. 

  • “I think platform is bullshit when it comes to fiction.”

  • Don‘t worry if the commas are in the right place in the first, second or even third draft.

  • “And don‘t worry about where those commas are.”
    On approaching an editor with an early draft. 

  • If you‘re comfortable with your characters and the plot arc, don‘t have any fear about approaching an editor.

  • “If you have a connection with the editor and they connect to your book, there‘s really nothing to be afraid about.”

  • “Some authors think they‘re writing in one genre but it turns out they‘re not.”

  • Not every book is ready for a professional edit and may need another round with the writer alone. 

  • A trial edit will often happen first. 10 pages, 2500 words or so. Will have some overall notes, a few line edits, then a phone call. The phone call is the most important part. Do the personalities fit?

  • Full edit with line edit, rough timeline is 6-8 weeks. 

  • Self-published book and traditionally-published works both need the same kind of editing. Editing is editing. 

  • Agents are totally overwhelmed with manuscripts, so you want to do some of their work for them - both in pitching the book and in making sure the book is in good shape. 

  • “If you‘re not sending things [to agents] in almost the form where they‘re ready for a publisher, you might be burning bridges.”
    On working with an editor first.

    This episode sponsored by listeners like you via the Secret Library Podcast Patreon