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GenreCon 2023: The stages of editing


By Sumudu Narayana, EdSA branch President

GenreCon returned in style last month for the first time since the pandemic, with the line-up including international bestselling authors Garth Nix, Nalini Singh, Jay Kristoff and Natasha Lester. The program had something for everyone, whether you were a reader, writer or editor, or a lover of crime, romance, fantasy or historical fiction.

I was honoured to be on Sunday’s panel “The stages of editing” along with fellow South Australian editor Cameron Rutherford, of Reed and Storm Editing. Ably moderated by Abigail Nathan, of Bothersome Words Editing and Writing Services, we examined the different stages of editing, the ethics of editing, and sensitivity reading (what it is and when you need it). To start with, we focused on the different types of editing (and the many different names for each type!), the relevance of each stage in the editing process, and the differences in the editorial process between traditional publishing and self-publishing. We each spoke of our experiences of editing manuscripts, common issues we faced in our editing, and our process from engaging a client to completing an edit. The ethics of editing covered the role of an editor in the process (enhance the manuscript, not impose their own style and voice upon the writer’s work) and the need to be aware of copyright rules and the need for permissions to use song lyrics, poetry and sometimes even recipes in manuscripts.

Despite the session being one of the last on Sunday, the audience was engaged and had a number of questions ranging from when and how to engage an editor and pay rates and turnaround times, to copyright and permissions between countries, especially for self-publishing. Sensitivity reading was a topic of interest for the audience with a number of questions on the role of a sensitivity reader, when to hire a sensitivity reader, and whether the entire manuscript needed to be read or if a few chapters was sufficient.

A key takeaway? Make sure you find the right editor for your work and the genre you are writing in as the editor–writer relationship is unique and needs to be built on mutual respect and trust.

Thank you to Lori-Jay Ellis, CEO of Queensland Writers Centre, Craig Cauchi and the wonderful army of staff and volunteers who made GenreCon 2023 such an engaging and inclusive event. Keep an eye out for more on GenreCon 2024 with Patrick Ness, Carnegie Medal winner and author of the Chaos Walking Series, announced as the special guest.



Caption for top photo – GenreCon 2023 “The Stages of Editing” panel, from left to right: Abigail Nathan, Sumudu Narayana, Cameron Rutherford. Photo credit: Rosyln Douglas.