Getting novels and non-fiction books into print

A fresh pair of eyes, a respectful yet plain-speaking outside observer can reveal and highlight what friends and family often cannot – or dare not – when it comes to a cherished fiction or non-fiction manuscript. Sometimes the original work is transformed over the course of the editorial process.

The editor can see through to the diamond that glimmers within the raw MS, and can supply the author with the cutting tools that will enable him or her to clear away extraneous matter, then reshape and facet the treasure that is not yet shining in all its potential brilliance. (This will normally be in the form of a more or less detailed editorial report.) Then, when this cutting and re-angling work is done, the editor takes up the tools to polish the diamond, to buff it and beautify it and smooth away any remaining rough edges (by copyediting the MS). This subtle collaborative support process can often make the difference between failure and success.

Projects include:

The Story of Trojan Records – The 50-year history of a mission to bring Jamaican music to the world.

The Hurtle of Hell – An atheist comedy featuring God and a confused young man from Hackney, by Simon Edge.

The Participation Revolution – How to ride the waves of change in a terrifyingly turbulent world. Described by Lee Woodard, CXO of Crabtree & Evelyn as: “So brilliant we started work on thinking about its impact on our company before I even finished it.”

The Shifting Pools – Magical realism and adventure fiction from Zoe Duncan.

The process

A way must often be found to communicate with the author to let him or her know that what they have brought to the table is a still-unpolished gem that will require further work if it is to shine. It takes tact and understanding to intervene in someone else’s creative process in such a way that the editor’s vision of what the book can be is not just accepted, but welcomed and embraced and blended with the author’s own.

The editor must be able to grasp the essence of the book’s message and intent, and figure out how existing content may need to be reformed, reshaped or reangled to achieve that end, then communicate this to the author in such a way that he or she is happy to work towards this refocused vision.

Once the manuscript is telling its story in the best way possible, the editor will then work a further much more subtle transformation to ensure that the language used also expresses the ideas to best possible effect, grammatically, lucidly and elegantly (unless stylistic requirements are otherwise) while retaining the voice of the author.

The outcome

Sparkling book of which the author feels proud, and which will go out into the world as the fullest and best expression of the author’s original idea.