It’s time to ask the editor!
I’ve compiled a list of questions and my lovely editor at HarperCollins, HQ Digital, the amazing and super-intelligent, Abigail Fenton, has answered them! Read on to find out more about work, and some tops tips, from one of the best editors in the business!
Q. What’s your approach with a new book?
I always read through from start to finish away from my desk. I make notes as I read, and these tend to be very big picture thoughts, or questions that are occurring to me as I read. Sometimes those questions are answered later in the book, but sometimes they indicate where a change might be needed, so that readers don’t get confused or sent in the wrong direction – unless of course, that’s the author’s intention! Then I pull those notes together into my first-round notes, which tend to be structured as a letter. Usually I try to have a phone call with the author either just before or just after I send the letter, so that we can talk everything through and make sure we’re on the same page.
Thanks, Abi! I think a lot of people think that this sort of letter might be hard to read (no one likes criticism do they?!) but having worked with Abi and a couple of other editors now, I can honestly say receiving feedback in this way isn’t hard at all. And one of the things that has always stood out to me is that their aim is not to be prescriptive, but to get you thinking about your book in a different, maybe more objective way. They never say you have to do something, everything is a suggestion. And my books have always become better for their feedback!
Thank you so much to Abi for taking the time to answer my questions. Her workload is CRAY-ZEE! So I’m so grateful to her for humouring me and my blog!
Abi is Editorial Director, HQ at HarperCollins and before that was Commissioning Editor at Bookouture.