How I Found the Right Editor

It was more than luck. Creating a book takes a team. I spoke about how I chose my cover artist. How I found the right editor for My Soul to Keep was to search for the right one several months before I needed one. It took some work, some due diligence, and some patience. But it paid off.

Image of a manuscript page with lots of edits handwritten with a red pen an illustration for how I found the right editor.

Which Type?

The first step in my journey to find the right editor was to research the different types of editors. It can get confusing. When you search the internet there are folks who say there are four types, five types, nine types, and more! But for most freelancers, it boils down to four general types.

  1. Developmental editors who work with you on the structure and arc of the story.
  2. Copy editors examine your finished story for consistency, grammar, and flow.
  3. Line editors address the writing style, language, and content on a sentence level.
  4. Proofreaders are the nit-pickers who look for typos and misplaced words or punctuation.

Each writer’s needs, every novel’s needs, are different. I had a mentor who had helped me with developing the story. But my weaknesses were grammar and consistency. So I needed a copy editor. But there are hundreds of thousands of editors out there.

Where Do You Find Editors

I went to trusted sources. Friends who write and publish in the same genre gave me names. Writing websites I follow had lists of editors. Even professional author groups I belong to had lists. I learned that there’s a professional association, Editorial Freelancers Association. I wrote down a list of more than twenty names. Did I refuse to write down names of people who didn’t belong to the Association? No. I did my due diligence. But members of the EFA ranked a little higher than editors who did not belong to a professional association.

First, every name had to have a website associated with it. If there wasn’t a website where I could learn about the editor, the name got scratched off my list. I paid attention to bios, testimonials, what they said they could do, turn around times, and fees. Did the editor have any experience, an understanding of my genre? Did I like the personality that came across on the website? What did his or her clients say about working with that editor? Were there examples? Did I have a personal relationship with any of their clients? Did I know their clients by reputation? If I knew none of their clients, I looked for them on Amazon and other booksellers.

Narrowing down the list

I removed the least expensive person and the most expensive person. That left ten editors on my list.

I sent an email to each of the editors. In my email, I introduced myself and gave a short blurb of My Soul to Keep, it’s length and genre. I asked if I could send them some pages and get a sample edit. For me, the sample edit was crucial. I wanted to see their work in action.

After I sent the email, I waited. Anyone who refused to do sample edits got marked off the list. If I got no reply after two weeks, I sent a follow-up email assuming that my original request ended up in the spam folder. One reply was rude enough that that person got crossed off the list and got an earful via email.

Reviewing the Sample Edits

I sent the pages immediately with a request for an approximate turn around time. All editors who accepted sample pages were prompt and respectful. From the twenty-page sample, I was able to tell a lot. Editors who did not get my story were evident by the changes they suggested. At least one editor missed deliberate “mistakes” I put in the sample. That one got marked off. And there were editors whose personality came across as a little too critical or snarky. They got crossed off the list, too. Now my list contained two strong editors. I would have done well choosing either of them.

The Right Editor

My final choice came down to who I thought would work best for this novel. Not only do I have no regrets, I am very happy with my choice. She respected my writing style and voice. She thought of things I hadn’t considered. Consistency and grammar errors were corrected. She made my story stronger.

How I found the right editor for my novel, My Soul to Keep

Creating a book isn’t a one-person job. Artist, writer, editors, and printers each have a role. Every book needs at least one of each. Second only to the writer, is the editor. Choosing an editor is both a professional and personal decision. Taking the time to make a professional search was how I found the right editor for my book.

I Was Alone But Not Alone

My book, My Soul to Keep, launched yesterday. It was a special moment. But as I reflected on the hours, days, weeks, and years I worked on this book, I realized something important. I was alone but not alone.

I Was Alone But Not Alone. A thank you to my supporters and readers

So many things go into writing a book. All the books read, the friends roped into endless conversations, writing group members who tolerated endless rewrites, beta readers, editors, proofreaders, artists, and ARC readers each contribute to the story. I’m going to take a moment to say thank you to all who had a part in this.

A Little Emotional

I’m a little (okay, more than a little) overwhelmed by the friends and family who celebrate this book with me. I’m delighted that my very first review was a five-star review (it’s on Goodreads if you want a peak).

Now you might rightly assume that my emotional outpouring has to do with pride. Yes, I have a healthy amount of pride in accomplishing a book. But what I am most grateful for is all the people who helped me get to this place. I could not do it alone, even though I must write alone. The support, the camaraderie, the encouragement I received is priceless.

The acknowledgment in the back of the book couldn’t be strong enough or long enough. So I want to take a moment to thank friends, critique partners, and encouragers (not a word, but that’s what you were) for all they’ve done for me.

Thank you

(in alphabetical order)

Cindy Baker

Rob Chilson

Eric Cline

Rick Cutler

Dora Furlong

Jan S Gephardt

Julie Glover

Kathleen Groger

Steven Gould

Kate Graff

Micah Hyatt

Judi Jarvis

Sidekick Jenn

Kassandra Lamb

Racheli Lavi

Margie Lawson

Elizabeth Leggett

Laura LeHew

Eden Mabee

Terry Matz

August McLaughlin

Holly Messinger

Lisa Norman

Matt Sherley

Dennis Earl Smirl

Allison Tellure

Sandy Williams

Jennifer Martin Woodrow

Sarah Worrel

Bill Wu

And More

I know I’ve forgotten at least one person (probably more). Please know that I’m indebted to you, too.

There are so many more people who have been in my cheering section—too many to name. You know who you are and you, too, have my heartfelt gratitude.

I do not forget the readers. Yes, you who are reading this blog. And of course, those who read my book. You are the final piece of any story because you finish the story. Without readers, there is no story.

And last but certainly not the least, my brother and his wife and family, my son and my daughter-in-law, and my husband. I love you all to the moon and beyond!

I was alone but not alone and I'm every so grateful.

I was alone but not alone in so many ways. I hope you each know how very grateful I am for every one of you. Thank you.

A Writer Only Begins a Book

In research terms reading fiction is “text processing.” It’s a highfaluting term for the relationship between a reader and the book he or she reads. A relationship that writers must remember and cultivate in their creations. As Samuel Johnson says, “A writer only begins a book.”

In A Writer only begins a book, Lynette M Burrows discusses what a reader brings to a book. Read more

In September 1997, the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Volume 4, Issue 3. reported a study on reading. The study had students read fiction that contained weak and unsupported statements about school. The fiction was set in either the school attended by the reader or another real school. The researchers expected that the readers would reject the untrue statements about their own school. They also expected the students would have an easier time believing the misinformation about the other school. The results showed that readers must actively construct disbelief when reading. This isn’t news to us today, but it remains a piece of important information. A writer only begins the book, the reader constructs a suspension of disbelief when they come to a book. So much so that they must actively construct disbelief!

Readers are looking for a specific experience when they approach a book. It might be entertainment or a new world to explore or to find new ideas with which to challenge oneself. The reader often tests himself: is he smarter than the book’s detective, can he learn the painful life lesson before the main character does?

Readers want to discover these things as they read. They don’t want the writer to describe settings or characters in minute detail. They want to be the hero, the smartest detective, the most self-aware heroine.

Readers fill in the gaps with their own life experience. Ask ten people who’ve read the same book to draw the house or room in which the story takes place. You’ll get ten different drawings with embellishments from each reader’s life.

This filling in the gaps is why the movie version of A Wrinkle in Time disappointed me. The director filled in some of those gaps with things that didn’t belong in my version of the story. She also left some things out that I believed were integral to the story. (Read A Wrinkle in Time the Movie That Wasn’t.) Many movie adaptations of books fail. I suspect this is because of the gap between reader experience and expectation and the director’s version of the story.

Why am I thinking about how a writer only begins a book? Because my book, My Soul to Keep, comes out in eight days. And I can’t wait to hear the story from my readers. The ebook version of My Soul to Keep is available for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo. (Soon it will be on iTunes and Barnes and Noble, too. The print version will follow.)

What about you? If a writer only begins a book, what books have you finished? Have you read a book then discovered that at least a part of what you remember was from your own imagination?

Spycraft: Essentials–a Review

Spies, and spooks, and agents, oh, my! Spycraft: Essentials by Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes has the title right. This book is for anyone who writes about spies, loves the history of American intelligence agencies and spycraft, or anyone who enjoys a good and educational read.
Spycraft: Essentials-a review
Clear definitions give the reader the background she needs to understand American politics as it relates to the spy business. Explanations of the distinctions between American agencies clarify a lot. And there are fascinating examples of events and people in the business.
The sections addressed to writers and how one can use the information included in the book are idea-sparking. Who knew that being color-blind would keep a spook from being good at planting bugs?
What makes the book a sheer delight for me is the humor hits. Piper and Jay have rapier wits and use their humor in unexpected places. “Let’s say someone at the CIA identifies Schmucky Putavich in Bananastan as a person of interest.” There were many times while reading that a chortle escaped me.
This is a book you can sit down and read front to back, or choose a specific topic and only read those sections. Whatever way you read it, I’m certain you’ll learn and enjoy learning. On a scale of 1-5, I give this book a 5.
Piper Bayard is a recovering attorney and an author. Her co-author, Jay Holmes, is a former field intelligence operative currently a senior member of the intelligence community. They know whereof they speak.
Get a copy of Spycraft: Essentials by Bayard and Holmes. It’s available on Amazon now. You won’t regret it!
Please note: I received an Advance Readers’ Copy of Spycraft for free without obligation. But, this is a book I will also buy because it’s a book I want and need on my bookshelf. I wish I’d had this book before I started writing my novel, My Soul to Keep. But I’m glad I’ll have it while writing the next books in the series.

Book Cover Reveal: My Soul to Keep

I’m delighted to present the book cover reveal for my debut novel, My Soul to Keep.

On sale: August 2018
Artist/Illustrator/Designer: Elizabeth Leggett
Publisher: Rocket Dog Publishing

Book Cover Reveal for Lynette M. Burrows' spine-tingling science fiction thriller, My Soul to Keep. Coming soon!


Miranda Clarke lived a charmed life…until she broke the rules.

It is 1961 and America’s a theocracy controlled by the Fellowship and its tyrannical council of eleven men. Miranda Clarke’s family is part of the ruling elite, wealthy and privileged.

Miranda wants nothing more than to stay out of the public eye, but her power-hungry mother has different plans. She forces Miranda into an engagement to an up-and-coming Fellowship member and schemes to get Miranda’s father elected President of the United States.

To escape the arranged marriage and the repressive Fellowship, Miranda makes a break for freedom. But lurid family secrets and a dead man lands her in prison. She not only must escape prison and outwit her mother’s ruthless ambitions but avoid the deadly Azrael, the Fellowship’s enforcers who Take unbelievers.

Will Miranda survive ‘outing’ the family secrets?

Told from four different perspectives, My Soul to Keep is a spine-tingling science-fiction thriller and will be available in all your favorite online bookstores.

My Soul to Keep is the first in a series about the struggle to survive repression and violence on a personal, regional, and national level.


Elizabeth Leggett Elizabeth Leggett is a Hugo award-winning illustrator whose work focuses on soulful, human moments-in-time that combine ambiguous interpretation and curiosity with realism.

Her first paying gig was painting other student’s tennis shoes in high school.  She charged $10 a single shoe and she loved it when they wanted their boyfriend or girlfriend’s name because she knew they would be back again a few weeks later!

Elizabeth has been nominated for the 2018 Chesley Award for best book cover presented by the Association of Science Fiction Artist. The winner will be announced at Worldcon xx in San Jose

Check out Elizabeth’s other art at Portico Arts Illustrations.


Lynette M. Burrows writes stories of empowerment and survival spanning space and time.

Her publishing career was nearly crushed before it started when a large regional magazine rejected her 500-word children’s story. Then, a writing instructor urged her to change one word and re-submit the story. She did and that story was published by that magazine.

Since then, her children’s stories have appeared in national magazines and an anthology. When she co-authored The White Box stories with Rob Chilson, those were the longest things she’d written to date. By the time the White Box stories appeared in Analog Science fiction Science Fact magazine, Lynette’s days of short-short fiction were over. Don’t worry, she’s not writing anything that approaches the length of Game of Thrones…yet!

Lynette lives in the land of Oz (Kansas) with her artist husband and their three rocket dogs (Yorkshire Terriers).


The live book cover reveal for My Soul to Keep occurred at ConQuesT Science Fiction Convention on Memorial Day weekend.

My Soul to Keep is currently in my copy editor’s capable hands. When she’s finished I’ll make all the necessary tweaks and send the manuscript to my proofreader. Once she’s done her magic, I’ll add the final spiff and polish. The book will be published at the end of August.

If you’d like to read more about the research and read a snippet please go to my sneak peaks and inside writing the books page.

If you don’t want to wait that long, join Burrows Insiders (see the sign-up box on the top right). You’ll get an advance copy for free with no obligation, but reviews (positive or negative) would be greatly appreciated. A written review helps the readers and the author, especially when the novel is her debut novel. *grin* Thank you in advance.

Please share your thoughts and reactions to my book cover reveal in the comments below.