Veteran Editor John Paine on Cutting Your Manuscript

24 April, 2013

Writers are understandably concerned when asked to trim their manuscript by a considerable degree. Yet the experience of cutting your manuscript wiJohn Paine phototh the help of an experienced editor need not be a painful one. An editor has the advantage of being a neutral outsider, not caught up in the countless whirling threads that consume an author.

As an example, I recall an edit that turned out to be rewarding for both author and editor. At a later point in his career, John Jakes wrote a 900-page novel that no publishing house wanted to touch. I was currently serving as an in-house book doctor for Dutton/New American Library publisher, Elaine Koster. She bought the Jakes book, and then she turned right around and told me: Cut it down to 600 pages. I followed orders, Jakes wrote that it was the best editing he’d ever had, and our house kept on publishing him for a satisfying run of books after that.