Thursday, January 18, 2018

Why Do I Need an Editor? - A Q&A with Harold Underdown

On Saturday, February 10, 2018, long-time children's editor Harold Underdown will join us for a four-hour revision workshop titled Editing Without an Editor: A Revision Tools Workshop. He joins us here on the blog for a Q&A about the workshop and about revision.

JA: First of all, who is it for--beginners or more experienced writers?

HU: It's for both! The workshop covers the different stages and different ways to work on and revise a manuscript. I present appropriate techniques to use at different points, and a framework in which to understand them and modify them as needed.

Beginner or moderately experienced writers will find a range of new ideas and techniques, while published writers will benefit from a broad review and will encounter some new things along the way. It is a general course with a broad focus--which really is how Kid's Book Revisions designs all of our workshops and webinars and our retreat. From the feedback we've received over the years from those who take our workshops, this approach works.

JA: That sounds good, but why do writers need to learn to be their own editor? What's wrong
with sending in a manuscript when someone thinks it's ready?

HU: That question gets at one of the main reasons why I teach about revision. Though it's not true that in-house editors 'don't edit anymore,' it is true that the competition for publication is fierce, and
writers need to submit manuscripts to agents and/or editors that are as strong and polished as
they can make them.

It's difficult to be objective about one's own work, which is why we teach
the best ways to get feedback from others, methods to use to uncover big problems in a story,
and techniques to use to do the final polishing.

JA: That sounds like a lot of work. Why wouldn't writers just want to hire independent editors
like you to help them fix their manuscripts? And why are you offering up techniques that
make writers less likely to need your help?

HU: To start with your first question, an independent editor isn't going to rewrite a manuscript for
you, and you wouldn't want them to. They'll help a writer find problems, but they’ll still have to
do the work.

What we teach in the KBR workshops will save someone time and money and help
them get farther along on their own. We teach about revision because we like to teach, and we're
not concerned about undermining our market (as it were!). Writers will still need our services,
but we hope that they'll solve the easier problems themselves before they come to us.

JA: What about specific kinds of writers, such as writers of picture books of chapter books?
Will the workshop be helpful to them? And what about illustrators?

HU: Absolutely! This workshop is for anyone writing narrative, from picture book to YA, and that
includes narrative nonfiction as well. Some of the techniques work better at one end of the age
range than the other, but the workshop is designed to work with different kinds of manuscripts.

It's not aimed specifically at illustrators, but illustrators who are working on their own writing or
are interested in understanding the writing process will find it helpful.

What Others Have to Say

Two of our own Western Washington members had this to say about their experience working with Harold:

"Not only does Harold have a strong understanding of the industry, he’s an excellent teacher for writers. He helped me with specific and clear feedback on how to make my work better.”  - Michèle Griskey

"I took Harold’s revision workshop at Highlights a few years ago—it was full of insights as well as concrete, actionable suggestions for revising and improving my manuscripts. Highly recommend!" - Kathy Manchip

Sign Me Up!

For more information or to reserve your spot, visit our Harold Underdown event page. 

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