Well, the short answer is: you can’t.
This panel consisted of a number of independent editors: Amelia Beamer, Mary E. Knippel, C.S. Lakin, David Landau, Heather Lazare, Mary Rakow, Suzanne Sherman, Meghan Stevenson, Annie Tucker, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, Monica Wesolowska, and Hannah Wood.
When asked what advice they’d give authors, Wendy said, “To go to conferences like this one and learn. And to embrace rewriting.”
Monica added, “Be able to deal with rejection. Sometimes it opens you to new perspectives and ways to improve.”
Annie said, “Rejection is less about talent and more about marketing yourself as an author. You need to know your goal going in. What do you want from this? You also need to go all in on a good editor, copy editor, and designer.”
According to Mary Rakow, “You should work with a great critique group and have high standards for your work. If the revisions aren’t making you feel better about the work, you’re making the wrong revisions.”
David Landau: “Writing is now a performing art. Authors are also public speakers. In order to be effective, you must (1) develop a passion for your subject matter, and (2) extend an unspoken invitation to the audience to share that passion.”
C.S. Lakin: “This is about maximizing your chances. What separates a good author from a great one is an attitude of professionalism. Invest time and money in your work. Commit to it.”
Otherwise, your writing is really just a hobby. You’ve got to look at it like a career.
Amelia: “You can’t just put up a site and be a writer. A real writer has self-doubt and continues learning, even after being successful.”
Suzanne: “Be resilient. A rejection of your manuscript is not a rejection of you.”
(Though sometimes it can feel that way. Most times, actually.)
Meghan: “Get a mug that says ‘author’ on it to make you feel validated. And always remember that your readers are your customers.”
Heather: “Invest in Publisher’s Marketplace. Stalk agents on Twitter.”
Question from the audience: “How do I determine my genre?”
Meghan: “Look at the bookstore or on Amazon for books like yours.”
Q: How long does editing take?
Annie: “It’s subjective, depending on the condition of the manuscript, whether it’s a deep edit. Many editors book in advance, so plan for that.”
Q: What are some good questions to ask potential editors?
Heather: “Ask for sample pages. Most editors will offer a free sample.”
Meghan: “It’s like a relationship, like dating—you need to find a good fit.”