Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Inside the Editor’s Den: The Beginning

Welcome to the first post in our Inside the Editor’s Den series. This month, we talk to four of BRP’s bloggers – Elle Carter Neal, Maryann Miller, Linda Lane, and Shonell Bacon – on their work as editors.

Since 2008, The Blood-Red Pencil’s goal has been, as stated by founder Dani Greer, “to help writers by blogging about what we know best – editing.”

In this series, we hope to provide information to writers that might be useful when they seek an editor for their writing projects. Learning how to write well is very important for a writer. Learning what to ask your potential editor is just as important.

Shout out to Wise Ink’s article “15 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Editor Before Hiring Them.” The idea for this series came from the great questions posed in this article.

Now, let’s step inside the editor’s den.

Today's question asked to our editors is...


Not surprisingly, writing plays a huge role in how these four editors came to editing. This makes sense. After all, editors must at least like words and the projects that are developed from them.

Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - My first editing job was for a regional slick quarterly magazine, Plano Magazine. I had been writing for newspapers and the owner of Plano Magazine contacted me to see if I would write for him, and eventually bumped me up from contributing writer to editor. I worked for him for four years. This was before computers and the Internet, so the working process was much different. I actually had to put on business clothes and go to an office. You do not want to see me in my home office now.

Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I came to editing twice. First by intent: I had completed a diploma in Creative Writing, and decided to further that with an advanced diploma in Proofreading and Copy Editing. I shelved it as a career option, though, in favour of writing my own books, as I couldn’t easily switch between editing and writing mode.

Later I joined an online critique group and rediscovered the enjoyment of helping other writers with their stories. When our group disbanded, the other members encouraged me to continue to offer critiques professionally. I thought this would help me avoid getting locked into “Editor’s Brain” again, but when some of my clients begged for more direct editorial intervention I couldn’t let them down.

Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - My journey to an editing career took a somewhat less than traditional route. Back in the 80s, I worked 5 years in the Language Arts Department of a school district near Seattle. During that time, I read thousands of student papers, grades 4-12, and (with the teacher’s approval) often commented on content development and other story elements.

After moving to the Colorado mountains in 1990, I stopped at a small, family-owned print shop to see if they had any part-time work available. As a result, I became a reporter for and the editor of their little local journal. I also created, edited, and published my own regional journal for seniors, The Seasoned Citizen’s Gazette. We moved to Grand Junction, Colorado, in the late 90s, and I opened a little publishing company and published my first novel.

Shortly thereafter, a writer called me and asked me to please consider publishing his book, which he had been unable to place with an agent or publisher for the previous 10 years. The story, compelling as it was, needed significant editing. And so it began. Since that time I have edited quite a few books, both ones I’ve published and those published by other companies.

Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I began editing back in the late 1990s. At the time, I just knew I loved to write and loved to read and read voraciously. By this time, I had a BA in communication arts and was about to start an MA in mass communication. I would do edits for free for friends who asked, and one day, a friend of mine who happened to be an author for Genesis Press told me the publisher was looking for an editor. I edited several works for them, and then with some of their authors who had moved on to other publishing houses. Within a few years, clients were sending me new clients.

A Writer’s Takeaway

When searching for an editor, it is important to get to know them because after all, they will be handling your literary baby. Knowing how an editor came into the profession may be an important question to ask. If you do ask it, and the editor doesn’t talk about experiences in both writing and editing, you might want to move forward and talk to another editor. An editor’s life is words, being able to help use them to communicate effectively and being able to help others develop better stories with them.


  1. A common thread runs through the answers to the question about how we came to editing: we all understand the power of words and enjoy working with writers to help them grow. The pen can, indeed, be mightier than the sword.

  2. Editors are the best thing that ever happened to writers. I had an editor with Five Star/Cengage who taught me more about writing than I learned in years of classes, reading books, and attending workshops.

  3. Wow, I learned a few things about all of you. We've been together a long time, but pleased to meetcha! :D

  4. Nice to meet you, too, Dani. LOL

    Shonell, thanks so much for putting this series together. It was great fun answering all the questions, and I hope that the readers here will gain some insight into the editing process in reading the rest of the blog posts throughout the month.

  5. How do you guys find all the errors I know aren't there? :-)


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