Publishing Tips With Book Editor Kristen Weber

I first met book editor Kristen Weber when she and her husband Marc first moved to Los Angeles, fresh from New York City. We had a lot in common—our love of pugs, books, and missing NYC—so we became friends. Kristen is experienced editor with more than a decade of experience in the NYC publishing world. She now works as a freelance editor, consulting with clients on their manuscripts (several of which are NY Times bestsellers), with her co-editor/pug Sampson. Kristen is also the co-founder of Shelf Pleasure, an online destination for women who love to read.

Kristen took some time to share her best tips for landing an agent, surviving feedback, and much more. For more about Kristen’s editorial services, check out her website.

1) Why does a writer need a good editor?

A good editor will give a writer much needed perspective on their work and help them take it to the next level, while keeping their own voice and vision intact. When someone is mired down in the writing process, it’s hard to even see what they really have on the page. An editor can figure out what a writer is trying to say before they even realize anything is missing. An objective opinion from someone with real industry experience is such an important part of the process.

2) Good query letters help land a writer an agent. What are some things that should definitely be in a good query letter?

Ideally, your query letter should read like the jacket copy of a published book. It should nicely sum up the story in an abbreviated way. You should run it by someone that hasn’t read the manuscript before you send it to agents to make sure the story is easy to follow for anyone unfamiliar with it. It should include word count, genre, and a few details about yourself that are relevant to your writing. You should also personalize the query. Let the agent know why you’re approaching them—and if there’s a particular book of theirs that you love.

3) How do you suggest a writer handle feedback?

Feedback is hard because your work is so personal. I always try to remember when I’m talking about a book that I’m really talking about someone’s heart. That said, this is also a business and writing is a craft. I’d frame criticism as part of the learning process. And you don’t need to address every piece of feedback that you hear. Internalize it, let it settle, and then if it feels true to you you can implement it into the story in a way that feels true to your book. Of course, if more than 2 to 3 people give you the same piece of criticism or advice, you should take it very seriously.

4) You run the site, Shelf Pleasure, a destination for women who love to read. How did you come up with the concept and what have you learned in the process? What are some exciting developments in 2014 for the site?

Stacy (the co-founder of the site) and I came up with Shelf Pleasure because we wanted to create a positive place for people who love reading. We both worked in the publishing industry, and sometimes so much of the news you hear is just doom and gloom. We wanted to get back to the FUN of reading and also feature book reviews and recommendations that almost feel like they’re coming from friends. In the process, my own reading pile has increased tenfold. Stay tuned for even more fun content from authors and readers in 2014 as well as a new book club and giveaways.

5) You and I both share a love of pugs, so this question is for Sampson, your pug. How does he handle being so cute all day?

Sampson says he can’t give away all his secrets! But it involves a lot of catching up on his beauty sleep in the sunshine or on my feet while I’m editing.

Kristen Weber with Sampson the pug

Kristen Weber with Sampson the pug

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