Monday, November 7, 2011

Cutting and Slashing is Not Always a Crime

by Allan Leverone, novelist

This is my second guest appearance at Crime Fiction Collective, and I’d like to thank Jodie Renner for giving me the opportunity to be here today, while she’s off on another trip. And what the hell, I didn’t put you guys out of business back in July, so what are the odds I’ll do so today?

If you’re a regular reader of Crime Fiction Collective, you know Jodie is a professional editor. As such, most of her posts are about writing and editing effective fiction, a subject near and dear to my heart as an author.

When I signed the contract with Medallion Press for publication of my first thriller, Final Vector, I was absolutely certain I had submitted to them a tight, suspenseful thriller. And I had. But going through the editing process with my editor at Medallion, Lorie Popp, was an eye-opening experience. Together we took a good book and made it outstanding.

I elected to approach a different Indie publisher, StoneHouse Ink, with my next thriller, The Lonely Mile, after hearing my friend, bestselling author Vincent Zandri, rave about how those folks at StoneHouse/StoneGate were doing everything right. But I knew I would only have one chance to impress them, and I couldn’t get out of my mind what a difference Lorie Popp had made with Final Vector over at Medallion. 

So I researched freelance editors, eventually approaching Jodie Renner, who specializes, as you know, in thrillers. Again, I felt I had written a tight, suspenseful book. And again, I had. But working with Jodie resulted in even tighter writing, a faster pace, and tenser, more suspenseful scenes, which allowed me to submit to StoneHouse a manuscript that would stand out against the many outstanding books being submitted by many outstanding authors.

It didn’t take long to receive an enthusiastic response from StoneHouse regarding my submission. I signed a contract for publication of The Lonely Mile in e-book form, and the novel was released in July, receiving virtually all outstanding reviews. The paperback edition was just released in October.

The most gratifying part of having worked with Jodie? When the manuscript went through the editing process at StoneHouse, it emerged virtually unchanged from the product she and I worked so hard on a few months prior, with the exception of a couple of scene changes to permit the book to better fit the target audience at StoneHouse.

With the onslaught of self-published books available now, thanks to the e-book revolution, I believe it is incumbent upon anyone interested in establishing a career as a professional novelist to produce the highest-quality work possible. It’s probably more important now than it was ten years ago. The moment an author gets branded as an amateur in this market, he’s done.

Is working with an editor easy? No. Ask any writer, and she’ll tell you letting go of those precious words she has worked so hard to create can be agonizing. But it’s also necessary. As the creator of the project, the author is far too invested in it to see the work objectively. The editor has no such investment in those words, and is (or should be) only interested in helping the author create the best possible product.

Is working with an editor cheap? Again, no. Freelance editors are in business to make money, just like any other professional. If your goal as an author is to rush your work into the marketplace in order to “make a killing” by selling an inferior product or a product not ready for prime time, good luck with that. You might make some money initially, but readers are not stupid, and they don’t appreciate being taken advantage of. You’ll find out pretty quickly the only killing being done is to your career. It’s going to be short-lived.

But if your goal as an author is to create quality work, which will stand the test of time and which readers will not feel cheated plunking their hard-earned money down to buy, the investment of time and money into professional editing is irreplaceable.

So there’s my rant for today. And to answer your question, no, Jodie did not have anything to do with this post! She gave me free rein and did not suggest any potential topics. I owe a lot to my positive editorial experience with Lorie at Medallion Press and with freelance editor Jodie Renner, and I thought this might be the perfect forum to express my gratitude and acknowledge how critical their help was in producing work of which I could be proud.

Allan Leverone is a three-time Derringer Award finalist, as well as a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. He is the author of the thrillers Final Vector and The Lonely Mile, as well as the novella Darkness Falls. His paranormal suspense novel, Paskagankee, will be released soon by StoneGate Ink.

Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER. Both titles are available in e-book and paperback.
For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Agreed: Editing is essential, and you have to consider it an investment in your novel. Jodie has done some terrific work for me as well.

  2. Especially for Indie authors, since we are under such intense scrutiny, it's crucial to turn out a professionally edited, top-notch manuscript. Anyone who's serious about making an impact with their book really can't afford to skip this step in their process.

  3. Allan, I couldn't agree more. I'm actually looking forward to trusting someone with my babies (my manuscript and my feelings) to make them both stronger.

    Best wishes on your upcoming release!


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