These last couple months, we interviewed several editors on our team, gathering pet peeves and advice that can help writers on their journey, and we’ll continue to feature a different editor on our blog in the upcoming months.
Last March we interviewed Jonathan Starke (check it out here), and it’s fascinating to see just how different each editor’s style and approach can be.
Our third interview features Dorit Sasson, who is an accomplished nonfiction editor and book coach at The Artful Editor. She is also the award-winning author of the memoir Accidental Soldier and the upcoming memoir Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Finding Home. Her writing has appeared in The Writer, HuffingtonPost, among others. When not working on her own books, Dorit teaches courses in memoir and nonfiction writing.
Q: What is the most common error you see writers make?
Many writers make the mistake of rushing to get published instead of taking the time to research the kind of books that their dream publishers are putting out.
Q: Where do most problems in a book occur?
It’s hard to generalize this and there’s no one straight-forward answer. It also depends on the genre. If we’re talking nonfiction, I’d say that the biggest problem is typically structure and organization.
Q: If you could give a two-sentence piece of advice to authors, what would it be?
Not to rush the writing. To take the time to put out a quality book because you only get one chance to make a good first impression and word online quickly spreads. The other piece of advice would be to write a book blurb BEFORE the book is out. You’d be surprised how many authors do not do this. It is very cost-effective for it really helps with the process of getting clarity with content.
Q: Before sending a manuscript to editors, what should an author do first?
Read the work out loud to hear the language and get a sense of flow. Nine out of ten times you will catch something. I’m guilty of not doing this enough.
Q: What is your editorial process after you receive a manuscript?
This is an interesting question! I spend a lot of time looking at the big picture. For memoir, this means analyzing the structure and flow of scenes. For other types of nonfiction like self-help and how-to, this means analyzing the way the writer is structuring and organizing the material. All too often nonfiction writers are very close to their material and are not able to see the developmental problems of their manuscript.
Q: What book should all writers read?
Bird by Bird by Anne Lammot and Still Writing by Dani Shapiro.
Bird by Bird has been recommended by almost every editor I’ve talked to.
Q: What book(s) are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Michelle Obama’s memoir and I’m about to read J. R. Moehringer's The Tender Bar.
Q: If you could rid the English language of one word and/or one piece of punctuation, what would they be?
Q: Finish this sentence: Dear authors…
I know you really want to get this book out in the world, and perhaps you are sick of having to revise for the tenth time or so, but always keep your reader in mind.