Meet Rebecca Weston.
Hi Rebecca! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, thanks for having me! I started my publishing career as an editorial assistant at Random House Children’s Books. I was an editor there for eight years and was lucky enough to work on award-winning middle-grade and young adult novels. In December of 2016, my husband and I moved from New York City to Boston, and I started freelancing. A few months later, I founded Rebecca Weston Literary, LLC, an independent editing company. Currently, I edit middle-grade, young adult, and adult fiction, as well as memoir. I offer a wide range of services, from editorial letters focusing on big-picture aspects such as plotting, characters, and tone, to intricate line edits. I welcome writers at all stages in their careers, from those just starting out to published, seasoned veterans seeking a fresh set of eyes. I tailor each edit to fit the specific needs of each writer and to help writers develop their stories into the best versions of themselves. In addition to my editorial work, I am a co-host on the Writer’s Bone podcast, where I interview authors about their books and careers.
What is an average day like for an independent editor?
On a typical day, I am doing a combination of emailing, posting on social media, chatting on the phone with writers, and, my favorite and predominant activity: editing. I exercise first thing in the morning, which energizes me and helps me to focus. After breakfast, I check email, then get to work editing. I usually schedule author calls for the late morning or early afternoon, and I go for an afternoon walk most days. I like to get an early start and stop working before dinner, leaving my evenings free for reading published books, either related to manuscripts that I am editing or for my Writer’s Bone author interviews. Sometimes, I even find time to read just for fun!
Did you ever have a project that you struggled to connect with? If yes, how did you work through the roadblocks?
If I take on a project, that means that I have, on some level, connected with it and with the author’s vision for it. I always have had an active imagination and an overdose of empathy, so it isn’t difficult for me to connect with many different types of characters and stories. And, usually, I know fairly quickly what are the main areas that need work. I take notes and write my editorial letter with the aim of helping the author see what he or she needs to focus on and how to strengthen the manuscript. Once in a while, I notice a lot of little things that need work but not the overarching aspect that needs focus. When that happens, I set the project aside for however long I need—an hour or a day or two. When I take a break by going for a walk or working on another project, the ideas usually start coming to me pretty quickly.
You have the option of living in one of the books you edited for a day – what book would you pick?
Wow! Great question. Some of my favorite books involve scary or sad worlds, so I wouldn’t necessarily want to pick one of those. . . . I would have to say that, if I had the option of living in one of the books that I have edited, it would be Nate the Great and the Missing Birthday Snake. Well, the snake part isn’t great, but the world of Nate definitely is! The Nate the Great mystery series has existed since the 1970s, and the books all have been written or co-written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get to edit the latest book in the series. Nate never ages, he always solves the mystery at hand, and he eats a lot of pancakes in the process. That is a world in which I would be happy to live.
Tell us about the experience of editing your first project and later seeing it published.
The first book that I acquired at Random House was Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer. Editing this beautifully written, poignant novel was an honor and a wonderful experience from start to finish. The author is a really talented writer, and we are both obsessive perfectionists. We spent hours on the phone and over email, going back and forth about everything from plotting to commas. I was quite proud when the book was published and went on to win a Sydney Taylor Honor Award.
Share a daily routine fact that helps you focus.
I practice Pilates and walk, which are great ways to start and break up the day, reenergize, and refocus. Checking email or social media is not a break! I am working on checking email only three times a day . . . “working on” being the operative words.
What made you decide to start your own company and go independent? What challenges and joys have you experienced along the way?
I left Random House because I needed to give my arms time to heal from three repetitive strain injuries that I had developed from overuse on the job. It was really hard to leave my talented Random House authors and colleagues alike, but I am incredibly happy with how things turned out. I love working for myself, setting my own hours, and spending the majority of my day editing and chatting with writers about their stories. I am so grateful for the work that I get to do every day.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Writing is a solitary profession—to a point. It is important to know when to take a step back and share your manuscript with someone else. There always are things that you miss when you are too close to the story, and it is essential to get feedback before submitting to agents. You don’t necessarily need to find a professional editor. You can join a writing group, or find a friend who will be brutally honest. If you do want a professional set of eyes on your manuscript before reaching out to agents, or during that agent-hunting process, don’t hesitate to reach out! I’d be happy jump on the phone, listen to your vision for your project, and go from there. You can find out more about me, my independent editing company, and the editorial services that I provide at http://www.rebeccawestonliterary.com, where you can also listen to my Writer’s Bone interviews. And please follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @rwestonliterary. I look forward to connecting!
Thank you so much for your interest in my work! It was fun thinking about these different aspects of my job. See you around the online publishing community!