Tuesday, March 19

From “Editor” to “Edited” with guest Kate SeRine


Kate SeRine (pronounced “serene”) faithfully watched weekend monster movie marathons while growing up, each week hoping that maybe this time the creature du jour would get the girl. But every week she was disappointed. So when she began writing her own stories, Kate vowed that her characters would always have a happily ever after. And, thus, her love for paranormal romance was born. 



Once upon a time, I worked in the publishing industry, serving in various positions from proofreader to indexer to editor. And yet it was still a little strange for me when I received a contract for my Transplanted Tales series and got to see the publishing industry from the other side. So, having looked at publishing from both sides now (to mangle the lyrics of Joni Mitchell), I thought I’d share a few lessons I’ve learned from my experiences.

1) Get over yourself. Your mother may think you walk on water, but you don’t. And your book isn’t perfect. We might as well get that one out there right now. I know this is a hard one to swallow when you’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years, polishing your manuscript to make it the best it can possibly be. I’ve been there. But take heart—not even the best writers have mastered perfection. So check the ego at the door and don’t be a diva. You just might learn a thing or two.

2) Accept criticism gracefully. Having your work picked apart is never easy, no matter how professional and constructive the criticism, but it’s part of the process. So accept what is said with a measure of graciousness, sift through the comments, and reply respectfully, especially if you disagree. Here’s why: The publishing industry is smaller than you think. Be the author who’s talked about at networking luncheons because you’re so amazing to work with. Don’t be the one they talk about because you’re an a**hole.

3) Pick your battles. A good editor can look at your manuscript from a completely different perspective—often through a lens of experience and market knowledge that you lack—and offer you suggestions for how to make your writing stronger and your story tighter. THEY ARE THERE TO HELP YOU!

But guess what—just because your editor makes a suggestion, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow it. After all, editing, like many other aspects of this business, can be subjective. But for the love of all that’s holy, don’t argue against every single change! That’s not only annoying, it’s insulting. If there’s a missing comma and adding one doesn’t fundamentally change the meaning of the sentence, accept the change and move on. When in doubt, refer back to points 1 and 2.

4) Communicate effectively. You know your characters better than anyone, so you might have a really good reason to keep something the way it is. For example, if the editor suggests a character should say “y’all” but you know that in the region in which your story is set they say “you all,” just explain that. I think you’ll find that most editors aren’t soulless harpies out to beat you down and destroy your self-esteem. Okay, maybe some are. But, generally speaking, editors are reasonable people who have the same goal you do—to make the work the best it can possibly be.

5) Meet your deadlines. You only have a certain amount of time to turn around your edits. Sometimes that’s a few weeks, sometimes it’s a few days. Sure, life happens and totally screws up your timeline; just do whatever you can to meet your deadlines. Your editors (and everyone else on the production team) will love you for it. Trust me.

Bonus Tip:

Be nice. Yeah, I know—you’re probably looking around for rainbows, sunshine, and pretty pink ponies right about now. But you’d be amazed how many people forget this one. Here’s the thing: Editors take pride in their work just as much as you do. A little compliment to tell them they made a nice catch or did a fabulous job helping you nail a particular scene is much appreciated. I can tell you, editing is sometimes a thankless job. Mostly because of those authors who are ego-trippers, divas, or a**holes. So give ’em a break now and then.

Good luck—and happy writing!

Find Kate at:


RED (Transplanted Tales #1) was released in August 2012
THE BETTER TO SEE YOU (Transplanted Tales #2) was released in February 2013
ALONG CAME A SPIDER (Transplanted Tales #3) is scheduled for release August 2013



17 comments:

  1. Kate, we're so happy to have you here. Thanks for the tips!

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  2. Hi, Kate! Those are great tips and I'm printing them off for my big folder of Things To Do While I Self-Edit. :)

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  3. Thanks for having me, Liz! Always a pleasure. :)

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  4. Kate, thanks for sharing these great tips. I totally agree with them all. It's definitely a list to keep handy!

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  5. Nicely played, Kate - and very true. Over time, I've become better about going through the editing process...but it was definitely a growth curve. I'm blessed by a fantastic relationship with my editor and have even told her, flat out, 'When I see edits, I tend to think I've failed and missed the mark.' To which she replied, 'Marianne, don't doubt yourself. All we're doing is applying that final dose of polish and shine to an already solid and well-crafted structure.' Let me tell you - that helped --- a LOT! ;-) Wonderful post.

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  6. When I've received 'harsh' editing, I throw my temper tantrum in private, then wait several hours until tackling them. It's always good to get the emotions out first, before you sit down and agree with your editor:) And thankfully, I've only had to object to very few. I also try to handle my objections with humor, so my editor doesn't think I'm whining.

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  7. Thanks, Jenna! Glad you agree. :)

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  8. Thanks for sharing, Marianne! It's so important to have a great relationship with your editor.

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  9. Good point about waiting to respond until after emotions simmer down, Molly. And keeping a sense of humor is essential!

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  10. Thanks for the tips. They are definitely words we need to hear. Sometimes it's hard for beginners to remember that the editing is meant to help and we shouldn't take it personal, when that little voice inside starts telling us we did a bad job of writing. Thanks again.

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  11. What a superb name for an editor - that alone must keep your head about the waterline.

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  12. Great post - and oh, so true! I've been on both sides, and argued from both sides! :-) It's never easy to be subjective when you're heart's involved!

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  13. What a good post, Kate. Thanks for sharing the excellent advice!!

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  14. Thanks to everyone for stopping by! :)

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  15. Very good advice. Thank you. I tweeted.

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