Friendly Friday: Theresa Stevens, Glowing Mystical Being

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away … I wrote a love letter to editors.

You can read it here: The evil secret to ALL WRITING – editing is everything

And in that post, I called editor Theresa Stevens “a glowing, mystical being.”

Now, it is true that Theresa the Stevens is a professional editor of novels, and her red pen is wickedly sharp.

HOWEVER, you don’t go straight from “editor of novels and former literary agent” to “glowing, mystical being.” It takes a couple of paragraphs to get that far. In fact, these paragraphs:

If you really want to write for monies, and pay the mortgage doing it, you’ve got to go all in with an editor who wields their Red Pen of Doom for monies, too. Not your husband or wife or best friend. Not a coworker. Not a friend who also writes something sort of close to what you’re doing, even if they write for monies. You need somebody who edits for cash.

It’s an achy breaky big mistakey to use a non-pro as your editor. Friends and family may be great readers of books but horrible at editing. Either way, you’ll take what they say far too personally.

Dreams will be crushed. Friendships will fray. Marriages will sour. DO NOT DO THIS.

Even if you’re friends with somebody who writes for a living, and they say sure, they’ll edit you as a favor, that might be OK for one small piece. A short story. Your first shot at a stump speech. But not anything of length. And not as a habit. When you start cashing checks for what you write, stop being a freeloader. Set your friend free. Better yet, don’t lean on the friend too much in the first place. Because they’re your friend. They won’t tell you if you truly stink up the joint.

Think about how long it takes a human being to write and rewrite and rewrite a novel and synopsis and query letter. Hundreds of hours. Bazillions. Think about paying yourself minimum wage for those hours. Then close your eyes and imagine there’s a glowing mystical being who, for the price of the complete first and second seasons of The Jersey Shore on DVD, could save yourself hundreds of more hours of pain while making you (a) seem incredibly brilliant and (b) have ten times the shot of not only getting the damn thing published, but making decent money at it.

I’ve been writing for monies for a long time, and I’ve had all kinds of editors. Good ones, average ones — and a few amazing ones. Theresa the Stevens is a treasure of an editor.

So, writers of the world: go to Theresa’s blog to soak up her wisdom, and follow her on the Twitter, because she is funny there.

Bloggity blog goodness:

Twitter: @TheresaStevens

Show her that the series of tubes isn’t full of trolls, and that we writers know a good thing — especially a Glowing Mystical Being — when we see it.

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Filed under 6 Friendly Friday, Barons of the Blogosphere, Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse

11 responses to “Friendly Friday: Theresa Stevens, Glowing Mystical Being

  1. Do tell – where can I find this editor / mystical being? I am finishing up my book and it’s going to need a quick once over…

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  5. Thanks, Guy! I really appreciate it — and I really enjoyed working with you. You made the process a lot of fun!

    Susie, if I may speak to your question, there are different ways to work with editors and reasons for doing so. A private editor is something like a coach who helps the writer learn to improve their overall skills by working on a single manuscript and getting it ready to shop. But it’s not just about that one book — it’s about technique, too. If you think of private editing as a form of training and coaching, it’s no more or less a waste of money than attending a conference.

    An in-house editor has other concerns, such as getting an existing manuscript to conform to house expectations. Here’s an example of what I mean. Let’s say you’ve written a romantic suspense novel, and two editors express interest in it. One sends you revisions requests that would make the romance more prominent, and one asks for more suspense. Does this mean that they’re both wrong? Does this mean that your book is flawed? No, it means that they know their readers prefer a little more nookie or a little more chase, and so they are trying to shape the book to fit those needs, each in her own way.

    • So if I am to understand you correctly, when sending it out for traditional publishing, make sure it is at its best without a professional editing and then let them have at it…..

      • Guy

        I don’t think Theresa the Stevens is saying that at all. Get somebody who edits your particular stuff for a living.

        Even if you are a starving artist, you can – and should – scrape together $200 to get somebody to edit the first 75 pages + synopsis + query.

        Everybody needs editing. Professional writers of all sorts rely on an editor or two, not because they stink up the joint, but because IT IS SMART. How many professional quarterbacks, heavyweight MMA champs and baseball pitchers do it solo, with no coach, no sparring partner, no strength trainer, nobody helping them at all? ZERO. Because it’s stupid and doesn’t work.

      • That’s what I was planning to do that anyway. I am relieved to hear you say that because no matter how many conferences I go to, if I did the final edit on my own work, it would suck. I also want to get a few people I don’t know personally to read it and will give me an honest opinion about the story. I’ve got 5 more I want to write, so if this one is a stinker, I want to move on…
        Thanks for clearing that up for me Guy!

    • Guy

      Theresa the Stevens, you rock. When I get back from Belgium and Germany, I’ll talk to you about something fun and evil.

  6. I totally plan on hiring one even if I plan to send it out for traditional publishing. One blogger said that his agent told him he had wasted his money since they would hire their own. What is your opinion?

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