A. Victoria Mixon, Editor
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Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar for them, 'Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction.'

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.
  • By Victoria Mixon

    I’ve found myself in a particularly unique situation. I have no formal education in editing, and I am quite young. However, page a month or so ago one of my aunts showed me the first few chapters of a story she was working on. She’s an author and has a few published works. I was absolutely giddy. I’ve always wanted to be an author/editor, and there was my chance. A few weeks later, I overheard my mother speaking of me to my friends. My aunt had told my mother that I had shown an incredible aptitude and that my feedback rivaled that of her generously-paid editor. My aunt had also said that I could begin editing online immediately, even charging, so long as I kept my age under a veil. So—long story short—this is what I would like to do. But I’m not quite sure how. I don’t know how the process of billing people online works, nor do I find myself very capable of successfully advertising. As of right now, I am doing some pro bono work on Wattpad in hopes of building up references, but I have yet to charge a dime. What do you suggest I do?

    It is truly wonderful that your mother told you such kind things about your aunt’s feedback. I hope that your aunt spoke with you directly. It is always a good thing for a young person to be supported and nurtured in their work.

    I assume that you have done solely Copy Editing—not Line Editing or Developmental Editing. There are many intricacies to Copy Editing for which you will need a formal education, so that’s something you can start right away. A course in Advanced English Composition will help, as well as Journalism and a class on Grammar and Punctuation. An internship with your local newspaper can be extremely helpful—journalistic Copy Editing is an excellent place to hone your skills. There are any number of differences between editing fiction, nonfiction, and journalism that you’ll need to know, as well as between American and British English.

    We speak a very complicated language, so take your time learning your craft—I have been a professional editor for 35 years, and I still find myself looking things up and consulting with my editor colleagues.

    The best way to begin working is to become an apprentice to a reputable independent editor. There are zillions of very bad amateur ‘editors’ advertising themselves online right now. The vast majority don’t know what they’re doing and frequently damage manuscripts. I hear the horror stories all the time. So you definitely don’t want to wind up associated with them. You might apply with Renni Browne, who has been a reputable independent editor since the 1980s and maintains a stable of editors working for her. You will learn during your apprenticeship how to bill, take payment, schedule projects, and follow-through on your commitments.

    Once you have one or two years’ worth of excellent client testimonials, you can create your own website and begin to advertise your services independently.

    But don’t be in a hurry!

    Like any other professional work, it takes years to learn how to do this well. There are many of us editing who have been professionals for decades, and we are your competition. It is far better to apprentice yourself properly than to ruin your reputation by charging for editing before you are ready.

    You must always be aware that when a writer hires an editor, someone is paying good money for a valuable service. If you love this work enough to do it, treat it as a career—for that is what it is.

    BECOMING A FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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Authors


MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by PanMacmillan. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield's second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


TERISA GREEN, represented by Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, is widely considered the foremost American authority on tattooing through her tattoo books published by Simon & Schuster, which have sold over 45,000 copies. Under the name M. TERRY GREEN, she writes her techno-shaman sci-fi/fantasy series. I am working with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans' fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, forthcoming from Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I'm working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez' debut novel, The Shoebox, and her up-coming The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star, which agents had told him to throw away. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff's abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


In addition, I work with dozens of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this literary art and craft.

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