Why Logical Novel Editors are Better than Passionate Ones


I recently had an angry client. He sent me a long, condescending email that insulted my editing skills and called me “cold,” “terse,” and “bitchy.” Not because of my behavior or because of our email correspondences, but because he didn’t like my editing style.

Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a harsh editor. It’s not like I am to editing what Gordon Ramsay is to cooking or what Abby Lee Miller is to dance. I never insult or belittle my clients. I never make them feel inadequate or unintelligent for making mistakes, but nor do I coddle and comfort them within my edits. And the reason is simple: emotions cloud judgement.

The truth is, while I’m editing, I’m all business. My mind is in the game. My brain gears are turning. I am thinking: How can I make this better? More marketable? More tense? More entertaining?

This angry client complained that I was not passionate or positive enough about his work, and so, he concluded, I was a poor match for the novel and should not have taken the job. But this client missed a hugely important point: You don’t want a passionate editor.

Passion makes humans irrational. It makes us believe that our new loves are perfect or that our children are the most talented kids in the state. Passion is what makes authors write books in the first place. It’s what allows them to devote huge chunks of their lives to pursuing their dream of publication, a dream that is very, very difficult to achieve.

Your mom, dad, friends, and spouse will probably also be passionate about your novel. They’ll tell everyone they know that it’s the greatest book around and that you are amazing and talented and perfect. And passion is exactly what you need while writing that first draft and when getting the very first feedback on your work. But it’s not what you want in an editor.

An editor should not be passionate about your book. An editor should be passionate about editing.

And that’s who I am. I’m an editor passionate about editing. I love editing so much that I will edit brochures in my mind. I love it so much that I often edit in the evenings while everyone else is playing video games or watching TV. I love it so much that I regularly give away advice, services, and my online course for free.

This is me editing.

This is me editing.

I am passionate about editing. I am not passionate about your book.

That is not to say that I don’t want my clients to succeed. I do! I really, really do! It’s the greatest feeling in the world when I see that a client has reached publishing success. That’s what I’m here for – to help you on your journey to publication. But I am not here to fall in love with your book, to make you feel good about yourself, or to feel deep waves of passion as I read your novel.

So if you want comments like, “OMG, I love this part!!!!” that’s perfectly fine. That’s just the stage you’re at with your writing. It’s a healthy stage and it’s a passing stage. If what you’re looking for is emotional support, you need to ask a friend or relative to read your book.

But if you want comments like, “This section is slowing down the plot. Cutting it would increase the tension.” then hire an editor, a good editor, one that isn’t going to blow hot air to keep you happy. It takes a lot of guts to ask an editor to criticize your work. I know that and I respect that. I always tell my clients to take it slow and to come to me with any questions, concerns, or confusion.

My clients who are truly (emotionally) ready for an editor call me things like “invaluable,” “fantastic,” and “a huge help.”

When you go to a mechanic, you don’t expect them to fall in love with your car. And you’re not going to accuse the mechanic of being “terse,” “cold,” or “bitchy” when he tells you that your car is totaled because you drove it into a brick wall. Mechanics tell the truth. Editors tell the truth. The real question is whether or not you’re ready to hear it.

Are you ready to hear it? Check out my editing services.

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What (Not) to Say When People Ask Why You Self Published

6753518501_1ea26e8e87There are lots of reasons to self publish a book.  Some of them sound better than others.  So it’s a good idea to premeditate your response to the question: “Why did you self publish?”  Because, rude or not, people will ask  and they will judge your answer.

What Not to Say

“I tried to get an agent (or editor) but everyone rejected my book.”

Even if this is true, it makes you sound lame.  No one wants to read a book that no one wanted to publish.  If you attempted to go through traditional channels, just keep that to yourself and pretend like self publishing is what you wanted all along.

“The publishing industry wouldn’t know a good book if it smacked them in the head.”

Whether or not this statement is true isn’t the point.  It makes you look arrogant and delusional.  It also makes you sound like a sore loser.

“I don’t want to give royalties to an agent or publisher.”

This just makes you sound money grubbing.  People want to support artists who love their art, not ones out to make a quick buck.

“I don’t need an agent, editor, cover artist, [fill in the blank].”

Again, even if this is true, it just makes you sound arrogant.  Everybody needs help of some kind to make their book a reality.

“I can sell more and get rich on my own.”

The odds of this happening are infinitesimally small. Around 50% of self-published authors (including those with multiple books released) make less than $500 in royalties per year.  So this statement makes you look both delusional and arrogant.

4598279025_8921d3dcf2So What Should You Say?

Whatever you say, keep it humble and sincere.  Focus on your passion for what you do.  Try to get people excited that you’re following your dreams.

Here are some examples:

“Publishing is something that I’ve always wanted to do so I’m making my dream come true.”

“I just want to tell my stories.  For me, it’s not about all the bells and whistles of traditional publication.”

“I love writing and I wanted to share my passion with the world.”

Whatever you say, just remember to avoid sounding critical or judgmental towards traditional publishing.  It won’t prove any points you have about the industry, but it will make you look petty and arrogant.

Need help with your self-published book?  Or need help landing an agent or publisher?  I’m a professional developmental editor for both self publishing and traditionally publishing authors. Check out my editing services.

Valentine’s Day Giveaway: Win a Free 25 Page Novel Edit and Critique!

4681460753_2245d340c8I am very excited to announce my first (major) giveaway through my company Keytop, Inc.  Wooohooo!

I absolutely love (LOVE!) editing.  I feel so fortunate to get to wake up every morning to do something I love!  So I want to share that love with you!  And what better time of year to share the love than Valentine’s Day!  So I am super excited to announce:

Keytop Inc.’s Valetine’s Day Giveaway – February 7-14

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway with lots of ways to enter.  If I get a ton of entries, I will add more prizes as a reward (see below).  More entries, more winners!  So spread the word!  And don’t forget to come back to enter again (you can tweet up to twice per day).

3122875541_11bf6685c2The Prizes

Grand Prize (1 per 400 entries): A 25 page novel edit and critique!*

First Place (1 per 200 entries): Your choice: a free query letter critique or free 10 page edit and critique!

Second Place (1 per 100 entries): A 25% off coupon!

Participation Award (unlimited): A 10% off coupon! All you have to do is tweet about the contest at least once.

Click here to enter!

The winners will be announced here and on Twitter next Friday, February 15th. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch: ellen (at) keytopservices (dot) com

First Place and Grand Prize are reserved for new clients only. Prizes cannot be combined with any other giveaways, special deals, or offers. Prizes can be given as a gift to another person. Prizes must be used within one year of receipt. My prices/fees may change at any time without notice.

*25 double spaced pages, 1 inch margins, times new roman font (no cheating please).

P.S. I am always interested in guest bloggers or guest blogging. (:

About Me (Ellen Brock)


I’ve loved books since the day I learned to read. I also love animals (especially dogs and rats), hot sauce, paper crafts, and cooking.  I own an editing company called Keytop, Inc., where I edit both fiction and non-fiction manuscripts for established and aspiring authors.  I also work as an independent contractor with several publishing companies. For more information about my editing services, click here.