Finding an editor who is right for you – by Stacey Dyer

Find an Editor Stacey-Dyer-Success-Story

‘Punch Wedding Planning in the Face’ is what we are told to do by Stacey Dyer in one of the most outlandish books to have been seen on Reedsy. We thought it would be great to showcase the first gender-neutral, LGBTQ-wedding planning book ever in the universe (that we know of!) created on our very own Reedsy platform. Stacey Dyer talks us through her thoughts and experiences of working with one of our editors and how it helped bring a fresh perspective to her work and really bring it to life.

For authors new and experienced, an editor helps to polish and sculpt your work into a final, sparkling piece of written art. New to publishing and working on my first book, I hit a wall after a few rounds of self-editing. I knew it wasn’t ready for the printed page but I didn’t know how to make it better, at least by myself. Maybe it’s time to find an editor… But how?

Finding an editor on Reedsy

Thanks to Reedsy, I was able to peruse and choose from their extensive list of editors. While I didn’t know what the average cost was, how much to budget, or truly what to look for in an editor, I knew what mattered most to me:

  1. Finding an editor who understood my brazen voice and wouldn’t try to sterilize it
  2. Finding an editor who was comfortable working with a gender neutral, LGBT-friendly book
  3. Finding an editor who might be able to embody a product manager, helping me to apply the purpose of the book throughout each chapter

The best part about Reedsy’s quoting process is the encouraged messaging between vendors and authors. I asked for a sample pass from those who responded to my query and shared a bit more about the vision of my book. From just this little bit of back and forth I was able to gain a sense of how these editors might work with me. Rachel Small was one who caught my eye right away.

When Rachel and I started to discuss AstroWed, she got it, immediately. There was energy and a collaborative nature to our exchange that got me excited about the future of the book. She was also laughing (very important for AstroWed!) and understood my voice as well as my goals. Rachel was indeed THE ONE.

After that lively exchange, she sent a quote for editing AstroWed in all its 27,000-word glory. (The concept of asking for quotes based on number of words was new to me. It’s my first time working with an editor and writing a book for that matter, but Reedsy made it easy to understand.)

Our Editing Process

We did a quick Skype call to chat about the following:

  • How Rachel likes to work
  • How I like to work
  • How do we attack this book together?
  • Common turnaround times when delivering the chapters
  • How many chapters will/should get delivered?

We settled on doing two chapters at a time and to let Chapters 1 and 2 shine a brighter light on our process together.

Three fantastic tactics emerged:

  • Rachel often makes the comment “OK?” to bring attention to a change she’s suggesting (usually because she’s changed the wording). I respond to many of these to give her extra context around the subject matter and either accept or suggest additional changes.
  • I comment to these comments and other questions/suggestions throughout the doc like it’s a chat room from 1998. This makes it feel less like work and more like collaboration!
  • I send my version back to her for further conversation. Usually a couple of overarching questions or ideas pop up and we flesh them out to shape future chapters.

But enough with the words! Here’s what our process looks like in action:

Day one

1 –  Upon first receipt, the docs look like this:

 

2 –  Usually in the morning, I take a first pass to read through all comments, suggestions, and changes. I do this to also clear the clutter in the sidebar (it feels so overwhelming at first!) because when things look like progress, it usually means it IS progress.

3 –  I highlight anything I need to write to, take a design note of, or chew on for a bit longer

4 –  Then there’s the conversational sidebar dialogue where we chat and make jokes throughout the doc. (It makes the process so much more fun.)

5 –  I close the doc and move on to other things, allowing my idle mind to roll around in the suggestions and tasks ahead of me.

Day two

  1. I respond and write to all the suggestions I can.
  2. If there’s anything that stumps me, I leave it alone and tackle the things I can write to with ease.

Day three

  1. I address anything I couldn’t write to yesterday and just muster up the guts to get it done. (Often it’s just that I needed a day to think about the task in the back of my mind. These things come to me usually when I’m about to fall asleep, and therefore I end up with a lot of emails in my inbox from yours truly.)
  2. I turn off the “review view” and put myself in the reader’s shoes. I read through everything with fresh eyes, free of comments and sidebar clutter. After making a handful of small tweaks, I hit save and send the chapters back on their merry way to Rachel, who adds them to the master document.

What’s left?

To date, Rachel and I have completed our initial passes on all the chapters. Since AstroWed is the universe’s most kickass wedding planning workbook, designed with a gender-neutral space theme, the final steps toward publishing are no small feat!

Now it’s time to throw on my illustrator and designer hats, followed by Rachel taking one final pass across the whole doc for polish, grammar, and word choice. This will culminate into an epic pour of wine with Space-Odyssey-2001-like music in the background as I apply her changes in the final design doc, make one final proofread pass, and then prep all things for CreateSpace. No big deal though… I got this…

I hope this helps you and other authors out there, and, at the very least, makes the path to publishing more tangible. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found Reedsy, and then Rachel, and then this funky 1998-chat-inspired method to keep a positive mindset on a boatload of work. I thought I was going crazy towards the end of my self-edits, but having a fresh-eyed outsider is worth all the time and money in the world.

Bottom line: Whatever motivates you to keep the momentum going, embrace it with a bear hug. Finding the right editor for you is one of the most fruitful decisions you’ll make in the journey of writing.

 


If you think Rachel might be a good fit for you, here’s how you can find her: reedsy.com/rachel-small

And, if you’d like to learn more about AstroWed, please visit: Astro-Wed.com

How do you work with your editor? What keeps you motivated when going through the revisions? Share your experiences with us, or ask Stacey any question, in the comments below!

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  • Emily

    Great article!

    I trained up from editorial to product management and have always thought that the two roles – editor and product manager – were so similar – except for the explicit user focus that you find in tech.

    But isn’t it true that the most effective editor is one who – while in alignment with the author’s mission and voice – also moulds that book to best meet the needs of the readers?

    I also wonder whether you and/or Reedsy have thought of including readers in the editing process itself, so as to learn as much as possible before hitting ‘publish’?

    (Appreciate I’m feeding in a bit late on this but it’s super interesting.)

  • Great article Stacey! Thanks for sharing your process with us.