Guest post: "Avoiding an Epic Edit Fail," by Anna del Mar, Author of 'The Stranger'

Perhaps you’re considering hiring an editor to polish your manuscript. Maybe you’d like an objective evaluation of the work you’ve done. Perhaps you’re nearing your submission deadlines, or you’re getting ready to self-publish your novel, or you’ve already sold your manuscript and now you’re about to meet your in-house editor. These are only a few ways in which you may find yourself working with an editor and all of them lead to same objective: To make your novel the best that it can be.

Whatever your reasons, working with the right editor can make all the difference in the world. The right editor will help improve your manuscript, but will also help you learn about your writing, assist you in identifying your strengths and weaknesses and help your writing reach the next level.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some outstanding editors. I’ve seen firsthand the impact that a great editor can have on my story. I value my editors immensely. But I’ve also met a lot of authors who’ve experienced epic edit fails. The reasons were varied and often personal, but in general, authors who had epic edit fails belonged to three categories:

1)    Writers who worked with editors who were not familiar with their genres and were thus a poor fit for the stories.
2)    Writers who didn’t vet their editors prior to beginning the process.
3)    Writers who never fully committed to the edit.

So three key points to avoid an edit fail:

Make sure your editor is familiar with your genre. You want someone who is active in the genre’s community, someone who knows the industry, who is buying and what they’re buying. You also want someone who is familiar with your market and knows your target readers. This is especially true when hiring a private editor. Remember: hiring a private editor is about improving and polishing your manuscript, but it’s also about putting your writing in the market’s context and understanding how you and your work fit into the publishing market.

Vet your editor. If you’re hiring your own editor, check references and make sure the editor you’re about to hire is legit at every level, educationally, yes, but also in terms of experience. I like to read novels that my editors have worked on, to get a sense of the kind of final product an editor can turn out. Most editors will edit a sample chapter for free. Take advantage of the offer. A sample editing chapter will give you the opportunity to evaluate the editor’s skills, her style and/or his areas of expertise. It will also give you a general idea of fit and how well—or not—you will work together. The best kinds of editors will tell you both, what’s right and what’s wrong with your story. He or she can also help you figure out a way to tackle the problems. If you’re writing commercial fiction, that last bit is super important. A top of the line editor saves you time and energy by lending you focus.

Commit to the editing process.  Whether you’ve hired an editor or an editor has been assigned to you, the process is wasted, unless you’re committed to it. There’s no point to having an editor if you are not going to take his or her comments into real consideration. Do yourself a favor and don’t throw the edit out the window by disregarding your editor’s comments.  If you find yourself reacting strongly to an edit, set it aside, cool down and come back when you’re able to look at the edit objectively. Then tackle the issues bravely, one by one, and don’t stop until you understand—really understand—what the editor is saying and how it impacts your story. Once you do that, you’ll find the horizon opens up and the changes come naturally. And remember, if your editor doesn’t get it, neither will your reader.


When her sister runs away with a guy she met on the internet, a warmth-loving Miami architect chases her reckless sibling to Alaska and finds her life in danger from more than the elements. Only a stranger, a wounded warrior who is also Alaskan tycoon with a quarreling family as complicated as her own and no time for a lady in distress—let alone one who walks on her sleep—can save her from disaster. Together, two strangers from different worlds and opposite spectrums of the thermometer must unravel the intrigues that threaten their lives to chase after a new dream, together, in majestic Alaska. 


Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass, military heroes who defy the limits of their broken bodies to protect the women they love. Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.


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