An editor’s perspective on 2016 ~ Outside the Margins with Erika Orrick

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Erika Orrick goes Outside the Margins today.


2015 was a pretty crazy year in our genre. I’m not even going to try to touch on any of it except to say, don’t be stupid. Instead, I am going to look inward in this, my first OtM column.

I quit my job in the corporate world a little over a year ago, and I have to say I don’t really miss it. I occasionally miss the extra money it brought in, but overall, as far as job satisfaction goes, editing wins hands-down. And that’s because of the people. Well, the non-stupid ones, anyway.

I know I say it all the time, how lucky I am to get to work with my authors, but I’ll keep saying it because it is true. Editing to me is a creative partnership, and I value the working relationships I have established that let me partner with my authors, rather than just poke holes in a manuscript and throw it back over a wall. I’ve always been a fan of puzzles—logic puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, riddles, etc—and editing, especially developmental editing, is like the ultimate in puzzles. I look at a story and think: How can I put these story pieces together so they fit even better, while at the same time sounding like whoever’s name is on the manuscript? It’s a fun intellectual challenge that often brings out my beloved Excel spreadsheets—especially when timelines or point of view is involved


Which brings me to my first bits of perspective for 2016: Make this the year where you commit to finding an editor who can be your partner, someone you trust with your shortcomings as well as your strengths. When you find that person, do a couple of things. 1) Talk to them. (See my post over at SJD Peterson and Scotty Cade’s blog about this if you haven’t already.) 2) Don’t apologize for your perceived shortcomings. Own them. Commit to improving on them or don’t, but be honest about them and then stop apologizing. A good editor realizes the editing mindset and the writing mindset are miles apart. (Side note: you should see my first drafts for my posts. If nothing else convinces you that EVERYONE needs an editor, those should do it.)

I’ve also started keeping a virtual scrapbook of especially poignant, funny, or witty margin note conversations with various authors. I look back on them at times and literally laugh out loud, even weeks after the book has been released. My husband tends to look at me oddly at these times, but he’s looked at me oddly for some reason or another during most of our 17 plus years of marriage, so….


And there’s your second bit of perspective for 2016: Don’t just celebrate the obvious. I literally have hundreds of similar snippets where that came from, from more authors than you would expect. Authors as a whole are really witty people (more so than I could ever hope to be). But seriously, if this whole book publishing process isn’t fun, why the hell are you doing it?

As an aside: an unfortunate side effect of editing full-time, though, is that I can’t turn it off. Ever. It tends to ruin movies when, while everyone else is enjoying Matt Damon’s ass, I am picking out the continuity errors. (Okay, not true. I totally enjoyed Matt Damon’s ass. The continuity error with his ass didn’t happen until later, when he was back on board the Hermes. I still noticed the error then. And commented on it. And hubby rolled his eyes.)

And I would be remiss to mention my authors without mentioning my sisters-in-crime, my fellow monkeys at Dreamspinner. We have a Google Hangout running pretty much 24-7 that several of us join when possible, where we discuss everything under the sun (and a few things that should never see the light of day). We also have an active email list that provides support, both personal and professional. Dreamspinner has made me a better editor, and those ladies have become my daily support structure.

And that’s your final piece of perspective for 2016: Find a support group. If you are a writer, find a critique group, if you are an editor, find a group of editors. (If you are an editor, ping me, I can point you in the direction of a couple of really good mailing lists.) A good support group is not all yes-men and women, but rather people who will both challenge and nurture you.

All in all, I know some of this advice is old hat to many of you, but I hope the rest of you got something out of it, if only a chuckle. 2015 was a little bumpy for me as I transitioned to a fully freelance career (as any author who waited months for an invoice can attest), but I am looking forward to 2016 and another successful year working with some of the most amazing people in publishing. Oh, and Jo Peterson. I am looking forward to working with her, too. Because she’s beyond amazing, of course. She’s the whole reason I’m here 😉


~Erika Orrick

About Erika Orrick

Erika Orrick wanted to be a writer when she grew up, but detoured into computers when she realized she actually wanted to eat. Financial stability established, she eased her way back into storytelling by fixing other people’s words and discovered she had a knack. An admitted geek, she is constantly distracted from resuming her quest to be a writer by all the shiny. Luckily, since she hasn’t yet grown up, no one can say she hasn’t met her goal. She has tried (and failed) to escape Texas twice and in fact now lives on the north side of Houston, less than 100 miles from where she started.

Erika can be found on Twitter at @erikaeditsbooks or

email at

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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