10 Tips for Working with an Editor [Manuscript Monday]

This post is sponsored by Grammarly. I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because so many people have accused me of stealing my theology from Pope Francis.

A month ago today, I was in Chicago, meeting with my editor about my next book. I’ve known him professionally and as a friend for over a decade, but we’ve never worked together before, so I didn’t know quite what to expect. Over the course of a day, sitting at his kitchen table, we talked about everything from what I see as my role in the wider world to what should be my “voice” in this book to how the table of contents should flow.

As a result of our meeting, the table of contents is, in fact, completely different. I had written about 23,000 words of the manuscript prior to our meeting, so we also went over some passages, talking about my voice, my writing style, etc. All in all, it was a great meeting, and I’m fortunate to be working with him.

With a dozen books in print, I’ve worked with almost that many editors. I’ve also worked as an editor, both in my role at sparkhouse, and in a couple book projects. So, from my vantage point, here are my Top Ten Tips for Working with an Editor:

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When Divorce Is Not the End of the Story

Laura Truax

I met Laura Truax a couple years ago. She’s a force of nature — high spirited, joyful, loving. She pastors a church in Chicago that, as unlikely as it may seem, was founded by Moody Bible Institute as a place for its students to attend. That church has changed significantly over the years and, suffice it to say, with a woman pastor and an openness to GLBT persons, Moody no longer recommends it to their students.

When we met, Laura told me that she was writing a book, and we chatted about the writing process. We did not, however, talk about the content of her book. So after my initial impression of her as ebullient and joyous, I was surprised to get her book in the mail last week and find out that it’s about failure and brokenness.

And then I was really floored when I read the opening lines, about her divorce. Yes, I was hooked.

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From the Archive: A Top Ten List

Originally published April 3, 2005:

This Tuesday will mark the last time ever that I will sit in a class as a student (maybe that’s why they call the Ph.D. a “terminal degree”). I’ve read an enormous amount over the past two years, so I thought I’d look back and try to rank which books have been most influential on my thinking. Since I couldn’t narrow it to ten, here’s my shot at the top eleven:

11. Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church by Kenda Creasy Dean

10. Simulacra and Simulation by Jean O. Baudrillard

9. Making Social Science Matter: How Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed Again by Bent Flyvbjerg

8. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel Huntington

via A Top Ten List | Tony Jones.

Christmas Reading: Tinsel by Hank Steuver

I received an early Christmas gift — Hank Stuever‘s wonderful and hilarious look at over-the-top Americana Christmas in Frisco, Texas, Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present.  Stuever writes like I’d like to write some day: witty, smart, compassionate, and snarky, all at the same time without ever going over the top.

He immersed himself in Frisco, an exurb of Dallas/Fort Worth, for three Christmases, and hung out with the very people who camp out at Best Buy the night before Black Friday and put 60,000 Christmas lights, synchronized to music, on their houses.  If you like This American Life, you’ll like Tinsel.

And, by the way, the amazing cover photo of the book is by Courtney Perry, who provided the photos for this blog and who has a special place in my heart.  She sent me the book, too. :-)