Book editors help you ‘see’. They understand what you’re trying to do better than you do; find the words that will help you do it; are your ‘go to’ person; and, best of all, are on your team. They bring so much to a book. I don’t know if that’s true of all editors, but it is certainly true of mine. And here she is:
Amy Thomas grew up in Adelaide before moving to Melbourne to study. She has worked in publishing for nearly ten years and has edited children’s books for most of this time (and quite a few books for adults too). She has been lucky enough to work with authors and illustrators such as Shaun Tan, Sofie Laguna, Colin Thiele, Neil Curtis and Isobelle Carmody, to name just a few. She always wanted to have a job that involved books and reading, even from an early age, so being a book editor was perfect for her.
Book editing is not proof reading, is it? Can you give a brief overview of what an editor does?
The role of the editor is to take a book from manuscript through to finished book, guiding the author along the way. This sounds pretty straightforward and not too involved, but it can mean a lot of different things depending on the book an editor is working on. It can sometimes mean taking a manuscript through a number of drafts, giving structural/story feedback along the way, and then giving the manuscript a final edit. It’s not just about picking up errors in punctuation and spelling; it’s also about picking up inconsistencies/weaknesses in story and the narrative arc of a book, and often involves making suggestions to strengthen these elements of a book.
With fiction editing, it’s also about asking the right questions.
Sometimes I ask:
- Would this character really say that?
- Is that really how their relationship would unfold?
- Does their voice feel real?
- Is that repetition deliberate?
- Do the characters sound like different people or is it easy to confuse who is speaking?