The first book in the Essence of Ohr series, Warden’s Reign, was edited by Darren Todd. I am so grateful to work with him. He did an amazing job, and I can't wait to collaborate on the sequels. I thought I’d bring you a behind the scenes look at what an editor does and how they approach the job for anyone who might not be familiar.
How did you become an editor?
I’ve been involved in peer review, online as well as in weekly writing groups, for about ten years. Early during that time, I might have picked up a short story or two to edit, but I began editing full-length manuscripts once I joined the team at Evolved Publications in about 2015. Since then, most of my work is with novel-length pieces, both with Evolved and with word-of-mouth gigs.
What is your favorite part of the job? The toughest?
Reading the manuscript one more time after I’ve worked with the author to apply line edits and really seeing how it’s changed is my favorite part. Ironically, the final read-through can also be the toughest, because by that time I’ve read the thing so many times that I have to really focus to pick up any lingering typos. But that last read-through is pretty vital, however, since it keeps egg off my face and my authors’.
What types of editing services do you provide?
Most jobs fall into three categories: copy editing, line editing, and proofreading, and they’re usually done in that order. For Evolved, I perform all three, but for private gigs, I can do any combination of them. I have also performed developmental edits, which means reading the work and offering top-down advice (the right 1,000 – 2,000 words that might change the course of the whole book). While these can be the most valuable, they’re less common for me.
What is the average deadline for a full edit?
I like two months, and that’s for an average-length manuscript. That probably seems like a chunk of time for some people, but since it’s most often a back-and-forth procedure and a full edit means reading it a few times, sometimes even a couple of months can move pretty quickly.
What is your process like? How do you get into the mindset?
The process usually takes whatever contiguous hours I can throw at it, but that means that picking at the edit twenty minutes here or even half an hour there is far inferior to having whole days to spend on the same project. Once I’m into the groove with a manuscript, my turnaround time jumps, and I’ll often feel surprised at just how much I was able to complete. Conversely, if I only spend twenty minutes on it, I’ll often feel bummed when I look back and see I’ve only gone over two pages.
Favorite book you’ve edited?
Warden’s Reign, of course! But honestly, I tend to like works under 100,000 words (you can always publish a sequel!) because it’s easier for me to keep everything straight over whatever time horizon I’m editing it. Also, I really enjoy editing works of various genres, even genres I might not normally read for pleasure. I’m able to keep plots and characters for several simultaneous works in my head, but varying genres helps a lot, too.
What’s one book you think everyone should read?
Wow, that’s tough. There are plenty of novels that offer something for everyone and have a distinctly timeless quality. However, since short fiction is my focus, and I appreciate having a broad cultural literacy, I suppose I’d say Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. Granted, that’s purely Hellenistic culture, but it contains enough common threads to benefit most readers. The tales are short, probably have at least some familiarity, and will crop up again and again as cultural metaphors.
What projects are you working on, personal or other?
Right now, most of my time is spent on Storytime Traveler, a series of recorded oral stories on Facebook and YouTube. I post a story between eight and eighteen minutes twice a month, and I started in January, 2020. I’m always picking at some shorter works, as well, perhaps with a short story collection coming in the next year or so, probably made up of previously published works that are now mine again.
Thank you, Darren, for answering all my questions! If you want to learn more about him and his Storytime Traveler project, follow the links below.
Storytime Traveler Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storytimetraveler/