Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guest Post: Harrison Demchick and Really Good Editing‏

I've always loved to edit.

That's going to be hard to imagine for many. Writing is fun, of course. Writing is creating. Writing is inventing. Even the authors who sit at their computers for hours on end without putting down a single usable sentence love writing at heart, even if they hate it at the moment.

Editing, though? Well, editing is necessary. Someone's got to put all those commas where they belong, right?
But editing, of course, is a lot more than that, and for me, it really is fun. Editing is logic and creativity fused harmoniously. Editing is the process of determining how to make writing better. When it's fiction writing, you're working with plot and structure and character. You're figuring out logic holes. You're seeing what's there and imagining what could and should be there. You're living in a different world. The author is the creator, but she needs the editor to point her in the right direction and help her understand the steps that need to be taken.

I love editing, and that's why I've loved working at Bancroft Press these past six years--or five and a half, really, plus a summer internship for good measure. That's my entire professional life. I loved helping Ron Cooper nail the structure of Purple Jesus. I loved helping Elizabeth Leiknes figure out the third act of upcoming The Understory. I loved helping Eden Unger Bowditch threaten the Young Inventors Guild in The Atomic Weight of Secrets, and I loved helping Stephen Besecker define the themes and arcs of The Samaritan.
But as the years went by at Bancroft, as I became more and more involved with the books I edited past the final draft, I began to hit parts of the job I didn't enjoy as much. When you're a small press, every book is a struggle. Every book requires extraordinary effort behind it just so its would-be readers can know it exists. Every book requires a strategy. Over the top of every hill is another hill.

I love the books. I love working with authors. I love the editing. But I've become very tired of the fight.

There are people who thrive on the fight, and winning it. I admire the energy of the marketers who can pull it off. But I began to feel I was moving away from what I loved about my job.

For a while I was frustrated. I always feel as though good books should be successful books by virtue of being good, and I became a tad disenchanted with an industry that didn't bear that reality. But I could stay still and be frustrated, or I could try something new.

That's how Really Good Editing was born.

In May of this year, I launched Really Good Editing, my independent freelancing firm. Really Good Editing allows me the opportunity to work directly with writers on their books without worrying about everything that comes next. It's editing in its purest sense.

And I knew I loved editing. But maybe I'd forgotten how much.

Really Good Editing is young, and even it requires the marketing from which I've been distancing myself. And I still spend half my time at Bancroft. I wouldn't abandon my writers there, and besides, I do believe in Bancroft Press.

But when a new manuscript comes in, and I'm on the job at Really Good Editing, editing is all there is, and it's amazing. It's the most relaxing experience I know. And as difficult as it is to build a new business from the ground up, whenever I'm editing a manuscript for a writer directly, I know I've made the right decision.

I know I'm helping people, too, because now more than ever, the world is filled with writers trying to get their work out there one way or another. Whether they're looking to break into mainstream publishing or stand out in the eBook-oriented self-publishing world, they have one thing in common:

They need a really good editor.

Find Harrison at Facebook

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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