Who is an author’s best friend? I was asked this question a couple of weeks ago at an author slam, by a member of the audience. This question threw me. First I wanted to say my fans. But then I thought of my agent. And my publicist. My family. My husband. I sent the question out on Facebook and Twitter and got some good responses, like: caffeine, characters, dogs, wine.
Thinking about this question, I’ve come up with my own answer. For me, it has to be my editor. I believe a writer is only as good as their editors. I have been privileged and blessed to work with Julia Richardson from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on FOUR novels. She took a young, inexperienced author and helped me to develop my strengths. Her encouragement, enthusiasm, feedback and critiques are what brought my books from the messy manuscripts they were, into the polished novels that my fans could read and enjoy. Over the last four years, I’ve received an education from my editor. It has made my writing come more naturally. It’s given me confidence. She has literally been my most valuable teacher. So, thank you, Julia Richardson, for holding my hand tight throughout this process. Thanks for loving my books as much as I do. I can’t wait to release our latest work together: STILL POINT. I think it may be our best novel yet.
My sister, Sarah Moeser, also helped me edit the two books that I self published (Second Chance and Finally, Forever). Seriously, these books would have been an embarrassing attempt at writing without her direction and feedback. She took sloppy wording and helped me tighten it. She pointed out when something was stupid and didn’t work, when something was tacky and didn’t fit. She cut out wording that was unnecessary and slowed down the pacing of the story. And most importantly, she encouraged me. Authors need to hear “Yes, this is good!” We are a very insecure, hyper-aware, overly dramatic, highly analytical bunch and we need to hear someone say, “I LOVE THIS.”
We’ve all had moments when we hate our editors, because they make us WORK. They make us do rewrites. They makes us agonize over word choice and descriptions. They make us think until our brains hurt. But that is like a coach training an athlete, making them shoot one hundred free throws, making them run eight miles or lift so much weight it hurts. They are making us BETTER.
So, for those of you who are authors, give your editors a huge hug (or maybe a cyber thank you). For those of you aspiring to write, never underestimate the importance of a good editor. They are like a coach, helping to guide you through the process. You could do it without their help, but you’ll never reach your potential.