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Interview with a Book Editor
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Lynn Maria Thompson is an author, speaker, and an editor. Her view from the editor's side of book
editing offers a fresh perspective for writers.
Can you give us a brief blurb about yourself?
I'm an independent editor, not affiliated with a publisher, who works with authors to get their
manuscripts into shape before seeking an agent or publisher. The last author whose book I edited is
Jacob Singer. His book, The Vase With the Many Coloured Marbles, was published in 2011. I am
currently working on Tiger Claws, a novel by Greg Sampson.
What is the role of publishing and marketing in regards to book editing?
Many first-time authors self-publish, as do repeat authors who want to maintain more control over
their books or get them released quicker than a traditional publisher would. Self-publishing authors
may not get much editorial attention from their publishers. Marketing is something few authors
consider when writing their books, and yet publishers don't provide the level of marketing support
most authors thought they would. So having an editor who's thinking in that vein can be a
How does the process of book editing work?
When I do the first (content) edit of an author's manuscript, I don't make changes, but rather
highlight and footnote, as well as offering overall notes on aspects of the manuscript I think need
attention. It's always up to the author to decide whether or not to make any revisions I suggest.
Sometimes it's frustrating when I get the revised manuscript back for a copyedit to see that an
author has not implemented certain changes that would have greatly improved their book. But since
I don't work for a publisher, I don't have authors courting my favor because I can get them
published; I can't! All I can do is improve their chances of landing a decent agent or publisher.
You suggested asking editors if they have any past clients you can contact for a reference when you
are in the process of choosing a book editor. Can you recommend what to discuss?
If you talk with any of their past clients, ask if the editor provided substantive comments that helped
them improve their books. Take a look at works they've edited that have been published. Would you
be proud to call one of links edit video marketing them your own? Also find out what experience they
have in marketing that will help you improve the marketability of your book; no sense investing the
time, money, and energy into writing a book if nobody buys it. A good editor has to be tough and
provide feedback to you that won't always be easy for you to take; if you don't get that kind of
feedback from an editor, they're not doing their job. It's also important that you feel comfortable
with getting that kind of feedback from the editor you choose.
What does the role of marketing look like in your opinion?
When working with writers, I like those who understand that they need to think about how they're
planning to market their books. If they've done a
http://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/video-marketing marketing plan (or at least started one) before
writing it, I feel much more like they're an author who's taking this whole thing seriously. They need
to understand the audience for their book, and know what they're looking for in a good read. They
need to know their competition and what makes their book different from them. They need to have
looked at the publishing industry to see what's selling these days and know how they plan to tap into
those trends. Will they be selling the book through their own website, or through traditional
bookstore channels, or both? They need to have thought about the press kit for their book, and
whether they plan to make personal appearances to support it; will they make prepared speeches?
How will they get news about their book out to potential readers? If they know these things ahead of
time, that helps me make the kinds of editing comments that will be useful to them in achieving their
goals for the book.
Is there anything you appreciate in writers who use your services?
It's great if they've put some effort into producing the draft they're sending me, and not just dashing
something off to "throw up on the page" and then send me their first draft. Ideally, they should be on
their second, or even third, draft before sending it over to an editor.
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