Marlo Garnsworthy, the editor of Who Ate The Cake?, is a writer and illustrator in her own right. She talks with us about what makes a good editor, what was challenging about the project and which character she’s most like.
Q. What was the biggest challenge about editing the story and why? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was keeping track of multiple storylines and making sure each narrative thread was strong.
I overcame it by following each storyline through to its completion, then returning to the beginning and taking a new path, just as the reader does.
It was a very fun and interesting project to work on!
Q. What’s your advice to writers about working with editors?
First, do your research and find a reputable editor with a proven track record of editing books that have gone on to be traditionally published. Also, look for someone with expertise in the genre you’re writing in—not all editors have a full understanding of how to edit a successful picture book, for example.
Visit the Editorial Freelancers Association website’s rate guidelines page to make sure the editor’s quote is fair. It’s a good idea to get a full understanding of what you’ll be paying for, and it’s reasonable to ask for a sample edit, which a reputable editor should be happy to provide free of charge. This will help your determine if the editor is a good fit for you in terms of editing style and personality. (For picture books, don’t expect more than a half page sample edit, and for novels, expect between 3-5 pages.)
Reputable editors will give you an honest appraisal of the level of editing your manuscript needs: developmental/substantive editing, copyediting, or just proofreading, and the writer should take that feedback willingly.
Keep in mind that it’s a rare text that doesn’t need some degree of developmental editing. Also, if an editor doesn’t offer you a contract, don’t proceed.
Q. What makes a good editor or any tips on what to avoid when editing?
A good editor, apart from having exceptional skills and a solid knowledge of the industry, listens to the writer, edits in keeping with the writer’s style but enhances it, and delivers on time.
A good picture book editor also has a thorough understanding of the relationship between image and word.
Often, I also find myself lending sympathetic ear and acting as cheer squad for my authors!
Q. Which scene or storyline or character is your favourite? Why?
It’s really quite difficult to choose, as each was appealing in its own way, and the feel of each story is quite different.
I felt very drawn to the will-o-the-wisp story thread, and Greenie Beenie, Dacytl, and Big Ted are so cute, especially now I’ve seen them come to life with Jade Fang’s wonderful illustrations.
But the character who sticks in my mind most firmly is Sweetooth Mould—what a great name! I love the gross-out factor, and I know kids will, too.
Q. If you were a character in the story, who would you be?
There are so many great characters to choose from!
However, I rather like the idea of being the will-o-the-wisp, out floating in the night garden and murmuring in verse.