What do freelance editors do?

Ask ten different freelance editors to tell you what they include in their various editorial packages, and chances are you’ll get ten slightly different answers. But this blog post from Reedsy (a fantastic resource for aspiring writers, and a company for which I’ve been working for years now) does a great job of giving you a comprehensive jumping-off point.

Check out their fantastic article about what authors can expect from freelance fiction editors, here.

The Great Distraction



I was all set to write about first pages today. Common mistakes, what to do, what not to do, etc. The topic seemed to make the most sense, with the fantabulous #FicFest looming on the horizon. So down I sat with a cup of coffee and good intentions, yet I found myself typing the title atop this post: The Great Distraction. Er, come again? But as you do when your characters decide to take a sharp left when you’d politely asked, in your color-coded outline, for them to take a right, I went with it.

Contemporary writers live in the age of The Great Distraction. It used to be when you wanted to procrastinate from the writing task at hand, you’d go to the pub down the street, or clean your house. Or drink whiskey. Now, we have Twitter. And Facebook. And Instagram. And Snapchat. If you’re like me, you can somewhat justify this sort of meandering by reading the posts of other writers and links to articles about writing. Sometimes, they’re incredibly helpful. Still, not all distractions are created equal, and there are some that seem to linger long after you’ve x’ed out of whatever Internet writing hole you’ve fallen down. Those are the types of distractions I’m talking about: the ones that paralyze you, the ones that well and truly get in the way of productivity—not just for twenty minutes or an hour, but all day—maybe all week.


Here is a list of the Three Big Ones (and a little advice on looking the other way):

1. #1 Writers’ Most Wanted: the Recently Announced Book Deal/Agent/Subrights Alleyoop. Look, I find social media writer communities to be lovely places. There is support here that I, and many others, draw from on the daily. These people get you—they understand the hardships and challenges (and victories, and mini-celebrations) more than your friends and family probably will, because they’re experiencing the very same challenges and, hopefully, triumphs every day. When one of our own gets that elusive book deal/agent/what-have-you, the sincere outpouring of support is not for show. We are truly excited for them—not only do they deserve it, they are also paving the way for our potential victory down the line, too, right? Right.

So when I settle into my own manuscript an hour later, and I can’t stop thinking: when are you going to get that life-changing book deal, you hack? that makes me a monster, right? Wrong. It makes me, and anyone else out there similarly afflicted, human. We call it professional jealousy, and sure, I see that. But what I see most prominently is the root cause: self-doubt. The fear that we will never reach that point, we will never be that good, our own work is simply unworthy of publication, so why try?

Perhaps the better question is: what happens if I don’t try? What then? Unlike the answer to “why try,” this one is simple: NOTHING. Nothing happens if you don’t try. You’ll never get a book deal, never land an agent, never see your name on the cover of a book—that’s a certainty. By trying, you have everything to gain. Just ask any successful, published writer you know who almost didn’t finish their novels because they sometimes wondered, “why try?” One fundamental difference between you and them: they pushed past that question and persevered. You can too.

2. The Book Nerd’s Version of Keeping Up with the Joneses: that growing TBR pile. We accept this as a universal truth: you must read in order to be a good writer. As an editor, this is something I stress ad nauseam! Reading not only broadens your horizons as a writer, it educates you about the genre in which you’re writing, and (I firmly believe) exercises your imagination in a way that TV- and movie-watching just don’t accomplish (regardless of my passion for television).

As a writer/editor, I recognize that there are only twenty-four hours in a day. As much as I wish I’d been blessed with that quick-reading gene, reading is a commitment for me. Therefore, when I see (and mark down) all of the fabulous book recos my fellow reader/writers give online, it can start to feel a little….stressful. And I have a feeling I’m not alone. “I’ll add that to my growing TBR pile!” is a somewhat hyper-exasperated expression I see so often, it’s beginning to compete with “all the things” for space in my timeline (I’m not mocking—I use that expression whenever I get the chance J).

It’s true that reading is important to hone our abilities as writers. When given the choice, reading over interwebbing or watching TV is ideal. It’s also true that we have lives outside of writing and reading: full-time jobs, children, husbands, wives, school commitments, houses and apartments to clean, food to cook, laundry to do, bills to pay. Again, we are human; we have limits. Which means being okay with the fact that we’re still achieving a goal, even if we only read a book every other week, or every month. You’re reading, and even if you’re not reading all the things (see what I did there?), you’re still accomplishing something important and valuable.

3. The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. It’s easy to blame distraction on the Internet. But in truth, that’s only one brand available to us. Some of the most seductive, high-end distraction comes in the form of our loved ones.

Like any creative job, it’s difficult to quantify the value of what we do without a commission of some sort. Loved ones may look at what we’re doing and think it’s a hobby, until we’re paid to do it. When your husband/wife/child walks through that door and offers any number or alluring ways away from the page, it can be so enticing. But unless you’re writing as a hobbyist with no plans to publish, you must remember to put your foot down and, if necessary, educate the people around you. This is your job. Just like you wouldn’t walk away from your desk in the middle of a nine-to-five and skip out on your work, you must give your WIP the same respect.

I remember reading a Sarah Dessen novel once, in which the MC’s mother was a romance writer. She lived in a small house and wrote at her kitchen table. In order to discourage her kids from interrupting her writing time, she put up a beaded curtain in the doorway and when it was closed, her kids took that curtain to mean DO NOT DISTURB. I have always remembered that detail, because I thought it was a brilliant idea.


I wrote this blog because I’m not perfect. I procrastinate when I shouldn’t, I check Twitter when I should be adding words to my WIP, and despite knowing the answer, I do occasionally ask myself why try? Sometimes, we all need a reminder that we are worthwhile, and so are our endeavors to fulfill our dreams. Sometimes, we all need a little nudge to go back to the page and do our jobs so that we may someday have the opportunity to pave the path for others like us, sitting in front of the computer, wondering why try?

We try because it’s the only way to cross the finish line. We try because someday, we will succeed.

Go write.

First Impressions in Publishing: How a Good Editor Can Help You Achieve Your Writing Dreams


Writers have a tendency to spend more time and energy revising their first chapters than any other part of their novels. Why? Because in the publishing industry, first impressions matter. Whether you’re writing an agent query, the first paragraph of your novel, or introducing yourself—and your work—to an industry professional on Twitter, you only get one chance to make that first impression.

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward with your agent query and/or novel is to hire a freelance editor. Critique partners and beta readers are invaluable—and if you have a good CP in your life, you’re that much closer to perfecting your work. However, freelance editors—like agents and house editors—are industry professionals. Not only do we have a comprehensive understanding of what agents and editors are looking for, we also make our living based on our unique ability to read constructively and analytically, and to subsequently be able to communicate feedback, insight, and any outstanding or unresolved issues clearly and effectively. Our job is to not only help identify these issues, but also to help you find a way to resolve them.

One of my clients—let’s call him Tom—is a prolific writer. Before hiring me, Tom wrote dozens of novels—all of which he’d queried with agents, some of which had earned partial requests and one or two fulls, but none had ever garnered him an offer of representation. To hear him tell it, he resisted hiring a freelance editor for over a decade because it seemed to him a failing of sorts; hiring a freelance editor was an indication, in Tom’s mind, that he was not a good enough writer to succeed, period. He finally hired me out of sheer frustration—his most recent manuscript had received dozens of full manuscript requests from agents, all of whom he deeply admired, but each time, the novel was ultimately rejected.

Upon reading both his query letter and manuscript, I discovered two issues right away: the first was that the query letter and manuscript did not match one another. The query was quite well-written, but it did not accurately convey the tone and plot of his manuscript—a common error which most often results in precisely what Tom had recently experienced; agents loved the idea of the novel presented in the query, but the manuscript itself did not fulfill the expectations set forth in the query. The second problem was that the manuscript needed to be edited and revised. Though technically clean and grammatically correct, Tom’s manuscript contained several plot and consistency issues that needed to be resolved. Unfortunately, Tom had sent his manuscript out too soon and, based on that initial first impression, some of his most sought-after agents were no longer an option for him.

Over the next couple of months, I worked with Tom to revise his novel. Throughout the process, he often told me that he’d known some of the issues I pointed out existed in his work, but he hadn’t been able to put his finger on the root of the issue precisely enough to revise it effectively. And, though a few of his CPs had pointed out some of the issues as well, they hadn’t been able to help him figure out a way to change the story in a way that felt organic to Tom’s own personal writing and narrative style, while also resolving the problem. By the time we finished working together, Tom felt more confident about the quality of his work (and his promise as a writer in general) than he ever had before. Shortly after sending out his completed, polished manuscript, he received several requests for the full. This time, within a few short months, Tom had his first ever offer of representation.

I’m not saying that every writer who hires a freelance editor will come away from the experience with an agent and a book deal—although many have. Instead, I’ll stress that a good freelance editor can be an invaluable tool in helping you to identify, and fix, any extant problems in your novel, not to mention aiding you in perfecting story and craft on a line-by-line level. We are here to provide you with perspective, to make your novel the best version of itself it can be. Simply put, our job is to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward, that your writing makes the best possible first impression.

In the workshop I lead this past weekend, Hook Them with Your First Ten Pages, we discussed how to make an excellent first impression within the first ten pages of our novels. We discussed the importance of establishing the correct tone, capturing our reader’s attention, and ensuring the quality of our writing in those opening pages reflects the literary integrity exhibited throughout. Whether your goal is to pique the interest of your dream agent in a query letter, or to ensure your introductory chapters are engaging enough to keep your reader reading, the importance of making a good, impactful first impression is paramount in the publishing industry. And with a freelance editor’s help, you just may find that this ever-elusive, excellent first impression is finally and definitively within your grasp.

Kate Angelella Joins #PitchToPublication

A very big ‘Thank You’ to Samantha Fountain for inviting me to participate in her massively successful #PitchToPublication twitter campaign as one of many talented editors. (As a side note, good luck to everyone involved as both writers and editors!) I was fortunate enough to give a small interview (see below) to Samantha that is also live on her blog. Go check it out and get involved! Also, for more information on how to get involved with the #PitchToPublication campaign, check out this blog post that explains everything!

Q. How did you become a freelance editor?

For years, I worked at Simon & Schuster, where I edited and acquired CB, MG, tween, and YA novels. I loved my job but between all of the in-house meetings, financial paperwork, contract negotiations, agent/author lunches, etc., the limited time I actually had to edit needed to be done on my own time. Now that I’m full-time freelance, I get to concentrate on my favorite part of the job: edit, and help authors to make their novels the best they can be!

Q. Do you have a general philosophy for how you approach your editing work?

Editing is a collaborative process. My job is to help you identify and solve any existing problems in your novel, and ask questions/suggest possible improvements that will allow you to take your novel to the next level. I have found the most successful way to communicate my insights to authors is equal parts honesty and compassion, and by providing support while also challenging my clients to reach higher and work harder.

Q. What are the most common mistakes you see in new writers work?

It is very difficult for a writer (new and experienced alike) to know where to begin his or her story. Often times, the beginning of the story is where the author is figuring out what he or she is writing, or where he or she is heading with plot. Therefore, I often see novels that begin too far away from the inciting incident.

I also see many instances wherein writers describe events (many times, transition scenes like walking to the car, getting from place to place) that are unnecessary to the plot and can, therefore, be easily cut.

Q. What’s the one thing most novelists don’t understand about the art of revision?

That it takes time, and dedication. I think many novelists would prefer to slap a band-aid fix over a serious issue and call it a day (when I first started writing, I know I did!). As writers, we get out of a novel what we put into it.

Q. What’s one easy thing every writer can do right now to make themselves a better writer?

Read voraciously and without guilt. Read as many books as you can, as often as possible. If you’re not taking writing classes, or in a writing workshop, reading can be just as valuable a teaching tool if you pay enough attention.

Q. What kind of entries are you looking for in your Pitch to Publication query box?

My specialty is YA, MG, tween. I also love NA and literary fiction. Fairy tales of any kind, and novels that have any sort of magical or fantastical element, always lure me. No matter what genre or age, voice is the single most important factor for me. If the voice is strong and compelling, I am often willing to overlook existing plot problems because I know those are fixable.

Q. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Vanilla bean.

Q. How do you take your caffeine?

Dark roast coffee with a little milk or cream. More like rocket fuel than not.

Happy writing!

– KA