Publishing is a club. Here’s how to get published if you’re not in it.

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I hear it all the time. I don’t know anybody in publishing. How am I going to get anybody to look at my (nonfiction) book idea? The editors I know are most likely to consider books from people they’ve published before. They’ll review a book represented by a reputable book agent. Outside of that, your … Continued

Stop arguing with editors

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Your editor makes a comment or suggestion you don’t like and don’t agree with. What do you do now? There is one wrong answer to this question, and three right answers. The wrong answer is to argue with the editor. Why? Convincing the editor that she is wrong is of no value to you. Who … Continued

How to deal with infuriating editors

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Here’s the five-step plan for what to do when you get a piece of writing back with infuriating comments: Read comments and suggestions from editor. Get annoyed that editor is finding fault and making stupid suggestions on how to change perfectly good prose. Figure out what problem set the editor off. Rewrite to fix the … Continued

Collaborating on a book is a terrible idea. But if you must, be asymmetrical.

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Writing a book is hard enough. Adding another person makes it twice as hard. Collaboration only makes sense if it’s asymmetrical — if you have complementary skills and different jobs. I’ve written three books with coauthors, edited a few more, and am currently ghostwriting parts of books with other authors. Coauthoring sounds like it’s going … Continued

The 11 qualities of highly paid, ultra-valuable editors

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Some editors get paid $40 per hour. Others charge $400 — and their clients are glad to pay it. What could an editor possibly do to be worth this much? An ultra-valuable editor is a writer’s essential partner, enabling writers not just to accomplish their goals, but to become better writers. To be an editor like that, you … Continued

Editor, writing coach, sensei

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The editor’s job is to fix pieces of writing. The writing coach explains how to write better. But writers who wish to be better need more. They need a sensei who will teach them writing through observation and editing. Only through writing and correction can you truly improve. Let’s look at what editors and coaches do, and what I … Continued

The 10 vital strategies of a great editor

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Being a great editor is hard. You must at once be naive and wise, omniscient and humble, impatient and implacable, sympathetic and uncompromising. You must think like a reader, like a writer, and like yourself. Here are 10 vital strategies to master the contradictions of being a great editor. 1. Critique as a reader, not as a writer You … Continued

Copyeditors and bullshit removal

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I love copyeditors. I just wish they could go further. Over the years, the many copyeditors I’ve worked with have flagged my embarrassing misspellings, taught me obscure grammar rules, and saved me from looking stupid.  We bond over our Oxford commas. And I pride myself on creating “clean” prose — drafts that are ready for copyedit … Continued