I am delighted to have as my guest, Kristen Weber, my former editor at Mysterious Press and NAL/Penguin.
Kristen has worked as an in-house editor for her entire book-publishing career (except for a brief stint as a subsidiary rights assistant). For the uninitiated, an editor not only edits an author's manuscript but she also supervises every aspect of the book from cover art to catalog copy. If that weren't enough, she functions as the author's sounding board and cheerleader. With insight and aplomb Kristen guided me (and all four of my novels) through the perilous waters of the publishing world.
Just a few of the other authors she has edited: Louise Ure, Cornelia Read, Karen E. Olson, M.C. Beaton, Elizabeth Bloom, Beverly Connor, Tim Green, Victoria Laurie, Mary Kennedy, Margaret Maron, Marcia Muller, Gail Oust, David Rosenfelt, Beth Saulnier, Kate White, and Wendy Watson.
She recently relocated to Los Angeles for her husband’s job and is currently freelance editing in between relearning to drive and hanging out with her pug (we’re happy to share a pic of him as well).
You can learn more about her editing services here:
Diary of a Mystery Lover
by Kristen Weber
Bred on a steady diet of Nancy Drew novels, it was no surprise all I ever wanted to be was someone that solved crimes…an FBI agent to be exact.
I decided to go the law school to FBI path. But just as I was about to sign my life away to hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans, I decided to take a step back and make sure law school was really the right path for me.
I decided to do something with my very first love – books – and found an assistant position at a major publishing house. A few years later the head of their mystery line realized what a rabid fan I was of all things mystery and she invited me to be her assistant. I’ve never looked back.
As a mystery fan, I know I had the perfect job – and it worked for my family too. It was a lot safer to be solving crimes inside books than on the streets.
But even if I wasn’t working specifically on mysteries and thrillers, I’m happy to report that working on any type of book as an editor is very similar to solving a mystery.
First, as an editor working in house, we read a manuscript we have on submission and “something” makes us fall in love with it. You just know that the book has something special and you feel it in your gut – kind of like meeting the man of your dreams - but you need to figure out what exactly that something special is so you can sell it to the rest of your editorial team, and eventually sales, art, publicity, marketing, etc. so everyone can get as excited about the book as you are. That’s the first mystery we as editors need to solve…there are a lot of books that are perfectly publishable but we’re looking for the one with that indefinable “it” quality that pushes it to the front of the pack. This “it” quality is subjective, which is why I always tell authors I’m working with to just keep pushing on…one day you’ll find the right agent and editor who see your work as you do.
And then, once an editor actually starts the editing process – either in-house as I used to be or now on a freelance basis, there are a lot of mysteries to solve. Like a doctor diagnosing a patient, we need to figure out how to help the author and the manuscript reach their full potential, while keeping their own voice and vision intact. It’s a delicate balance…and a mystery I love helping an author solve.
Of course, as a mystery or thriller editor there are even more mysteries to solve….
And even though I’ve gone freelance, I am finding plenty to investigate as I work on manuscripts by the pool…and I also have a few suspicious looking neighbors I might look into as well.