Freelance editor focuses on helping writers tell best version of a story
By Nikoel Hytrek
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lindsey Faber entered a contest and became an editor.
Faber was always interested in editing. She edited friends’ papers in school and she was always an avid reader, so she entered a contest for an editing position at an independent publishing house. The company sent her manuscripts to edit and submit. When the contest closed, she had a job at Samhain Publishing.
Now a freelance editor and consultant based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Faber spent seven years at the small, digital romance agency before she turned to freelance.
Faber has a bachelor’s degree in English from Wake Forest University in North Carolina and a master’s degree in English from the University of Cincinnati.
Freelance editing is very different from working for an organization, Faber said in a phone interview. “There’s definitely more uncertainty about what people expect from you.”
One of the big differences between being freelance and working at a publishing house is that the authors hire her, she said.
Faber said she doesn’t know if an author takes her edits unless they tell her. At a traditional publishing house, she said, she saw every part of a book before it was published.
Still, Faber said she has more freedom.
She likes to get a project done all at once and take time think about what works in a story and what doesn’t. She said being able to set her own schedule is a benefit, even if it’s sometimes hard to stick to.
Despite the differences, Faber said the goal of editing is the same: helping the author to achieve his or her vision of the final product.
As a developmental editor, Faber focuses on the story, the characters and the book as a whole. Occasionally she does line editing, but she uses editing skills regardless.
With any project, she said, she always looks at a manuscript’s structure, consistency and pacing like a reader would.
The first time Faber reads through a manuscript, she usually doesn’t make any notes because she wants to be as immersed as possible. During her second round, she makes edits and sends the author a long email with her notes.
“I’m here to help them tell the best version of the story they can tell,” Faber said.
Faber said the most important part of being a good editor is to know when to leave something alone. In her career, she said, she’s learned when to let things go because “you can’t make people tell the stories they don’t want to tell.”
“Ultimately, it’s not my name on the book,” Faber said.
She said readers usually aren’t as nitpicky as editors, so it doesn’t matter as much that a book is perfect. “Really it’s about people understanding things.”
But she said it’s always easier to help when she can tell what an author is trying to do. She likes to work closely with authors and prefers to talk in person or over the phone.
“I like people who want to have a conversation,” she said. It allows her to connect the author’s ideas and help them come up with solutions to their problems.
Editing skills come in handy at this point, she said, but she’s careful to be flexible with the rules.
“You should use rules to solve problems, not judge them against themselves.”