Guest Blog: Author Editing Interview with Anna Butler

Today I welcome Anna Butler to the blog. Anna is the author of many excellent LGBT stories, and she's here to share her thoughts on the editing process.

1) Tell us a bit about you and your writingI mostly write genre science fiction with LGBT main characters: the award-winning Taking Shield series which came to an end with the publication of Day of Wrath in June. I never ever describe it as romance. I don’t want to disappoint readers, you see, as the Shield series doesn’t meet the expectations the ‘romance’ tag brings with it. It is, though, a m/m love story and charts the life and loves of Shield Captain Bennet, set against a background of interstellar war. Taking Shield was published by Wilde City, but with their sad closure—must add that their authors were honourably and promptly dealt with—I decided to self-publish the series.

I do dabble in m/m romance, though, with the Lancaster’s Luck steampunk series published by Dreamspinner.

2) What do you enjoy most about the editing process?
I love it all, actually. Sure there are slap-the-forehead-WHAT-was-I-thinking moments, but mostly I love getting detailed comments back that help me polish the manuscript until it glitters. I’ve learned so much from my editors. I can’t thank them enough.

One thing I love in particular is that it gives me one last chance to spend time with my characters before they’re pushed out of the nest and told to fly.

3) What do you find hardest about the editing process?

When my editor is hard on me and says things like “That’s slowing the pacing, my girl. Cut that scene. You don’t need it.” Often it’s a scene I love, or words I laboured over, and it’s not fun to have to lose it. Even more galling, the editor is usually right and the text is tighter and leaner as a result.

4) What are your general thoughts on editing as part of the overall publishing process?
Priceless. The gains you make from another pair of eyes to pick up things you missed can’t be overestimated. And don’t forget, this is an expert, trained pair of eyes. An editor knows what to look for both in development terms (characters, pacing, plotting, continuity etc) and the purely technical (grammar and spelling). Never skimp on editing. It can make a universe of difference to your book.

5) What are your top editing-related tips for authors?

Try not to be blinded by your own partiality for your book and characters, recognise that your book isn’t perfect and do try to be detached about the advice you get. But the editor isn’t always right. Read their advice carefully and analytically, and if you don’t agree with a suggested change, challenge it. It’s still your text, your book, not theirs— just don’t be precious about it!

About the Author

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. She’s supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.