Editor: Amarilys Acosta Company: Amarilys Fiction Editing Number of years in editing: It depends from where I start counting my experience. I have a BA in English Literature which taught me critical thinking and analysis of fiction. That was nine years ago. The MFA in Writing Popular Fiction taught me the craft of writing and editing fiction. That was six years ago. I also completed a Copyediting certificate from UCSD two years ago. If we’re talking officially coming out as an editor, then I launched my freelance editor website—Amarilys Fiction Editing—a little over a year and a half ago. In that time, I’ve worked with both author clients and publishers big and small, and at the beginning of this year I got hired as an acquisitions editor by Entangled Publishing.
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
After having some amazing experiences in critique groups while completing the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, I realized editing brought me as much joy and fulfilment as writing. For a couple of years, I waffled between one and the other, but ultimately decided to pursue editing as a career. If I couldn’t finish writing the books I wanted to see on the shelves, then I sure was going to do my best to help others—especially POC and LGBTQ+ authors—get them there.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I edit popular or commercial fiction in the genres of romance, fantasy, and science fiction. My expertise is on YA, but I wouldn’t consider this a niche since Young Adult literature encompasses so many genres and possibilities. In terms of types of editing, my forte is developmental editing. I love fixing broken plots, coming up with better character goals and conflicts, and brainstorming alternative scenes with my authors.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I’m a known workaholic with a disregard for time management or time limits. You can easily find me happily working away at 9 p.m. on a weekend. I’m trying to be better, so when I control myself, a typical work day starts early. I’m up at 7 a.m. to do some light yoga, grab breakfast, and sneak in some early reading of either a new novel or the latest submission. At 9 a.m. I’m at my desk revising my to-do list and checking email. Then I edit from 10 a.m. to noon. I grant myself a long lunch and let my mind rest with some Netflix, before doing another block of editing from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. I like to end my work day here, but when work is overflowing, I do another editing block from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. I finish my day with more yoga and reading.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
My favorite thing is the collaborative aspect behind editing. Editors essentially act as teachers, mentors, or even coaches—depending on the editorial service—to help authors polish their work. When authors get an aha! moment after a developmental edit suggestion, or thank me for pointing out a sensitivity issue that they’ve now learned and will make sure it’s correct in their future works, or simply come back with more questions because they really want to understand my edits and better their craft…that’s immensely rewarding to me
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
The biggest challenge has less to do with editing and more to do with finding clients. I am terrible at promoting myself and, unfortunately for me, being socially awkward in person translates into social media as well. The clients that approach me have mostly found me by word of mouth from colleagues, online by googling ‘fiction editing’ which directs them to my website, and in freelance editor databases such as the one provided by ACES.
What are you currently working on?
This month I’m working on a diversity or sensitivity read for the sixth book in a series in which the author is bringing some Latinx/Latine characters into the narrative.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Best advice I can share is patience and network. Join an editor association or group, make connections, take some classes or workshops to better your skills, make more connections, ask questions, and keep making connections. Get your name out there and the clients will start showing up. :)