The Truth About Editors

Hello, everyone! I’m Elizabeth West, one of the editors at White Rose Publishing. Editors seem like a mystical group to a lot of people, especially authors, but in all honesty we’re just people who love books. Yes, we review submissions, accept and reject manuscripts, and bleed red ink all over an author’s work; it’s all just part of the job.

There are a lot of myths floating around about editors. One of my favorites is that we love to send out rejections. Not true. I have yet to come across an editor who actually enjoys sending a rejection. Personally, it’s one of the toughest parts of my job. I know how much work an author puts into a manuscript, not to mention the query letter and the synopsis. Having to tell them I can’t accept their story is hard, but it has to be done.

Which brings me to another of my favorite editor myths: Editors are picky. This one is true, but picky isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Editors see a ton of submissions every year, and there’s no way every manuscript that comes in can be published. It would be impossible. So, editors choose only the best manuscripts to publish.

What are some of the things an editor looks for? A good story for one. Do your characters feel real to me? Am I drawn into the story and make it through the manuscript without even noticing how much time has passed? Are the plot and conflict strong enough to justify the word count? Since I edit inspirational romance, I also look for the classic romance formula (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back) and spiritual growth on the part of the hero and/or heroine. To me, that element of faith woven throughout the story makes the happily-ever-after ending that much more satisfying.

I also look for good writing. Is the manuscript free of typos and spelling errors? Is the punctuation correct? Does the author demonstrate knowledge of English grammar? Is the writing active and the flow of the story good? Are the descriptions vivid but not over described? Does the manuscript show a good understanding of point of view (POV)?

That’s an intimidating list, I know. But does it mean you have no chance of publication unless your manuscript is absolutely perfect? No. You should always submit your best work, which means a manuscript polished to a high shine, but even if your critique partners think your submission is perfect and needs no further editing, your editor will likely have a different opinion. I’ve seen manuscripts that won contests, were polished beautifully, and still needed some editing for grammar, punctuation, to smooth out an awkward spot, or to meet house style.

Writing a novel is a labor of love for authors, but editing it is a labor of love for the editor. Our job is to make sure the story shines before it’s sent out into the world for readers to purchase and enjoy. Sometimes polishing it to that shine takes hard work by both the editor and the author; other times it’s a simple matter of moving a few commas around and fixing a typo or two.

Either way, I love being an editor. I’m so blessed to be able to help a writer’s dream of publication come true, and God has blessed me even more by allowing me to work with White Rose Publishing. If you’re a writer with an inspirational romance manuscript between 7,500 words and 100,000 words, consider submitting to White Rose Publishing. Remember, always read and follow the guidelines. The editor who receives your submission will appreciate it.


  1. Well-said, Elizabeth. Of course, I completely agree...and I look forward to seeing some wonderful plots and engaging characters popping into my email box from talented authors who submit polished manuscripts. :)

  2. Wow, it looks like I have my work cut out for me. LOL. Seriously, I appreciate the insight Elizabeth. I'm sure you know how much we authors appreciate our editors! Or maybe not, since some people actually think editors enjoy sending out rejections (I cannot imagine that myself).

    When I think about all the romance novels I've read over the years and how different they all are, yet still revolve around the classic romance plot, I'm astounded. I feel so blessed God has given me my own stories to tell and a wonderful place like White Rose in which to tell them.

    Blessings, Teri

    Teri Wilson ~ Romancing the pet lover's soul

  3. Are you allowed to be both understandable and straightforward? Wow. Encouraging food for thought.
    I'm humbled you agreed to accept my manuscript, and so thankful you don't mind a little (or a lot) of polishing. Imperfection is one of my strong points!
    Have a wonderful evening everyone – I’m headed back to my edits.

  4. Wow thanks for the information and advice. I won a contest with a partial asked for by an editor. So many people ask me if have you sent it off yet, I try to explain I'm polishing it and rewriting my synopsis to make it shine as well.