To authors, a book is a precious baby that they’ve nurtured and brought into this world. But giving birth is almost never a solitary process. The editor is the midwife – the one that stands by the author and pushes the writer as they labour through the long hours before the baby is finally born.
As both an editor and author – I’ve been on both sides of the process. I’ve given birth, and I’ve been the midwife.
Recently, I connected with Briana Morgan – a horror and fantasy author, playwright, freelance editor, and publishing consultant. She specializes in working with indie authors and small presses. Her books include Unboxed, Livingston Girls, A Writer’s Guide to Slaying Social, Reflections, Touch: A One-Act Play, and Blood and Water.
I have a chat with Briana about her journey as an author and an editor.
Dipa: In your experience, are editors typically authors themselves? What’s the difference between working with an editor who is an author versus someone who isn’t?
Briana: I know a few editors who aren’t authors, but the two paths tend to complement each other. An editor who is an author understands more of the publishing process, but that’s the only difference I’ve experienced. I think both are valid and have different perspectives, so it’s important to do your research when it comes to choosing an editor.
Background isn’t everything!
Dipa: In the literary world, we hear a lot about aspiring authors – but we rarely hear of aspiring editors. Why do you think this is the case?
Briana: With editing, there is a lot of education involved. With writing, there is a more-or-less clear path to becoming an author, and you’re either published or you’re not. With an editor, there isn’t as clear of an indicator that you’ve “arrived.”
Usually, people don’t call themselves editors until they’ve gotten at least one paying client.
Dipa: How has your work as an editor influenced your own journey as an author?
Briana: Sometimes it’s difficult to turn off my editor brain, especially when I’m working on a first draft. I can often be too critical of my work because I treat myself like a client. It’s something I’m trying to improve.
Also, it’s tricky because my clients are brilliant, and sometimes reading their work gives me some serious impostor syndrome as a writer. Still, I stand by my statement that writing and editing complement each other, and I’m happy I get to be both a writer and an editor.
Dipa: What’s the best advice an editor has ever given you about your work?
Briana: The best advice I’ve received from an editor: no stakes, no story. I often point out a lack of real stakes in client work, as well as my own. You have to make the audience care about your characters, and the only way to do that is by making it clear what they stand to lose, and what happens if they fail.
Dipa: Choosing an editor – or a midwife – is a very important part of the publication process. When does an author know when they’ve found the right midwife?
Briana: You’ve found the right editor when you’ve found someone who understands your writing and encourages you, along with editing your work. They should know their editorial stuff, but they won’t override your voice. Above all, they’re open to feedback and will listen to you when you have questions or concerns.
Go with your gut, and don’t be afraid to choose another editor if you don’t think yours is a good fit.