It’s been awhile since I posted anything. Oh who am I kidding? Happy end of the month! I’ve been feverishly editing and looking for an editor for In Evening, and celebrating Chinese New Year (Happy CNY fellow Chinese!). Aside from the serialized version of In Evening on JukePop having been updated to its final, pre-published edit, I’ve also managed to settle on Cassandra Marshall as an editor. It’s my first time looking for a market one, and I’m hoping she would be able to come through for me in regards to In Evening.
While I was looking for an editor though, I came across plenty of quirks within the line of business there and the process reminded me of someone I knew. I had a beta editor when I was writing fanfiction a long time ago. Her name’s Victoria, and she’s the best I’ve ever worked with. She’s also the most unique, because she referred to herself in the third person, which is incredibly cool.
Victoria would straight out point out my mistakes, and while doing so, immediately offered alternatives. She did not say, “Oh, it’s your story. You can choose to use her suggestion or not.” Instead, she would just go, “You made a mistake here. Here’s two alternatives she wants you to use.” She also made a note to point out specifically where I did right, which was just awesome, and I’ve made notes to practice those same techniques till this day, which all turned into the stronger points of my writing.
I loved that. No beating around the bush. See, I have a lot of pride, and would defend my position to the death. But I also have an incredibly low self-esteem. You hit me hard, say I’m wrong, show me you’re right, and I’m on board. I don’t like it when people try to gently walk me through my mistakes, which is why I sometimes have trouble with my elder sister. If I ever pass my stories to someone to look over, I’m putting my full trust into that person (though I did have a minor freak out when I was negotiating with Cassandra). I think the relationship between an editor and the writer is an extremely intimate one. You’re basically saying, “I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine.” The writer needs the editor to be 100% honest and yet knows what they are doing, while the editor must have faith that the writer will take everything in without (too much) resistance. At the same time, they must both want the best for the story.
While I will admit that from what I’ve seen so far, Cassandra is good at what she does, I will admit that she is not my ideal editor. But that’s just my personal preference as a writer. For me, I would like whoever edits for me to be able to work without my input most of the way, but would still ask the occasional question, but in as deep a detail as they possibly could. At the end of the day, when I received back my manuscript, I want to be able to just simply glance through all the edits and be satisfied with as much of the cut as possible. If I have to pause and wonder if the cut was necessary, then the job was not ideal. Of course, finding the ideal editor is like hitting the lottery, really. They must have similar taste as you, with an understanding of the style you are writing with. What are the nuances you like to use of the cliché and tropes you are good at.
For me, I was quite comfortable with handing In Evening over to an editor, mostly because it was more inspired by western thriller novels than anything else, and most editors would be familiar with works like that. Also, my gut instincts was telling that Cassandra would be fit for the job, and I like my guts. They hold my food. For 139 Years to the End of the World though, I doubt that I would do much heavy editing or cutting. That story has a more Japanese Visual Novels background, and unless the editor I work with is both proficient in English and have an interest in VNs, I would not be confident that they would represent it the way I would like. I’d probably run the final draft through a professional proofreader though.
This brings me to a conundrum. Because of my wide range of media and genre backgrounds, I have developed a style of writing that I can only describe as internationally inspired. This make (and made) looking for an editor a pain in the ass. Most of the editors I’ve looked for has specific niches they wanted to work with. Cassandra prefers Young Adult novels, for one. There’s a guy who would work with any genre, but only in American English. A few only wanted specific genres. Though many more had a range, they had a few things they do not want to touch. From taboo subjects like rape, incest, child porn, war, gore, erotica, and politics, to specific genres they wanted to steer clear of, or cultures that they did not understand.
These quirks made things incredibly frustrating as I have written prolifically and subtly for every and any of the stuff mentioned above. And I doubt I will be able to find a so called ‘permanent’ editor to work with for long term. Which is my headache. I have to tailor find a new editor for every book that I intend to write, since I wish to write completely across the board of genres and topics.
So what’s the point of this post? None really. I just wanted to share my experience in finding an editor, since Kevin Boyer did something similar recently. I will continue to update with more progress, hopefully with better frequency. But that really depends on how life plays out with handing out events and time cards.