Learn from my mistakes.
The right editor means everything. Early on in my career, I thought any editor would do. That is not true. I learned after two appalling experiences, that you need a different editor for each different niche you write in.
One of the first bad pieces of feedback I ever received was from a cis het white man. I didn’t think about it when I was writing and submitting that I needed an editor who understood my genre and characters.
The feedback: don’t write multilingual prose and dialogue, limit the gay interactions, and don’t make race the forefront of the story.
I am a non-white queer neurodivergent writer. My characters reflect that, always. At the time, I was young and hated myself thinking that I couldn’t write these types of characters. I was devastated since I had created an entire series around these characters. I stopped writing and left that universe behind.
Then I got angry. Representation is important. Not just for me but all the non-white queer neurodivergent people out there. It was a decade later I picked that universe back up. I submitted it to another editor. I figured it would be a better experience since they were queer.
The feedback: it’s too steeped in culture and too much that isn’t in English.
A memory came to me. I can’t tell who the speaker was or the exact quote but it stuck with me. I remember reading it somewhere and it was like, “if they can pronounce Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky, and Vysotsky they can learn to pronounce your name.” That made me think about language and society. If people can read and adapt other languages in other areas of life, then they damn sure will be able to get it in a fantasy novel.
The story isn’t written to where a reader can’t pick up and understand what’s happening in the scene. Also, it is conversational Spanish. Not some unfamiliar language. Context clues provide understanding, or another character translates it.
I dug into figuring out the correct kind of editor after that. I am putting money behind something I need to make sure that I am getting the most out of the relationship. I will give it to the others, most of the remainder of their feedback was decent, but they didn’t understand my voice or my characters.
Social media and research have helped me find out how to search for an editor and make sure that we’re the right fit for each other. I have submitted my queer fantasy novel to a new editor and have high hopes. They are also queer, neurodivergent, and multilingual. Fingers crossed! The third time’s a charm!
Editors are not one size fits all. Make sure that you’re getting the most out of the dollars that you spend by hiring an editor that is right for you and your work. Everyone deserves someone that they can trust with their manuscript babies.