Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Editing Can Mean "Nudging," and that's just fine

Part 5 in the continuing series: “Why the World Still Needs Editors”

Perhaps one of the best synonyms for the word editor is nudge (noun). Really good editors push writers out of their comfort zones. These kinds of editors are excellent nudges. Another synonym might be boot to the behind, but nudge sounds much more polite, doesn’t it?

Case in point: I worked with the staff at Ellis Island’s library to research the text and illustrations for my newest book. I got to know Barry (Moreno) and Jeff (Dosik), longtime librarians at the Bob Hope Memorial Library. They led me to great sources, shared anecdotes (thanks, Jeff, for telling me about the one man who said he swam to Jersey City from Ellis Island!), and eventually commented on the work-in-progress.

My editor naturally suggested that I ask one of the librarians to “blurb” my book.

Oh, dear, I thought. How could I ask them to do this? Wouldn’t that be too forward, too, well…not me?

Fortunately my editor persisted. In this case “persisted” means “sent more email nudges.” She kept asking, politely, until I got out of my comfort zone.

I asked Barry Moreno (author of The Encyclopedia of Ellis Island and many other books on the subject) if he might comment on my book. And what he sent was wonderful—just perfect for the back cover of the book.

So, thanks Mr. Moreno for the lovely blurb and double-thanks to Carolyn Yoder, a fine nudge/editor, for making me do what I didn’t want to do.

For another take on the value of stepping out of your tried-and-true routines, I recommend looking at Laura Purdie Salas’s most recent blog post. She’s always full of insights.

1 comment:

  1. Another way editors 'nudge' writers is to encourage them to go deeper, to explore aspects of their characters and stories that might be uncomfortable, but are necessary to create flesh and blood people we care about. Excellent post, Gwenyth!