To All the Writers Whose Books I Edit: I Feel You

I write lots. For a living. Editors often return my articles with red lines all over the place and blue notes in the comments and green highlighting for all the words I overuse. Being edited is nothing new to me.


I was walking the dog the other afternoon, and it hit me mid-stride: Ali, my editor, has started editing my book. Another person may be reading my manuscript right now, with a friendly but critical eye. She is making notes on my book, pointing out my errors and typos, and questioning the opinions I espouse. She is editing my book, which took me a year to write while writing a dozen other articles.

It was a weird feeling. Usually, when I hand over an article to an editor, I’m eager to get to the editing process. Hurry up and read it, I think. I want to check this box and move on to the next thing. The next thing in the case of Take the Wheelthough, is publication. Marketing. Sales goals. I’ve never done these next things, and they are terrifying. All right, they’re not Somali-pirates-just-boarded-my-yacht terrifying, but still. And having Ali edit the book is just the beginning.

Happily, I am an editor myself, and I just returned a big batch of suggestions and comments to one of my authors. He thanked me, and we set up an appointment to talk about his next steps in the process, which right now are focused on major revisions to a solid memoir. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him, and he knows it. Here’s how he signed off his email to me:

Here we go.  Deep breath.  Step off.