Ask the Editor – Alicia Dean

The editing process seems mysterious to those who have never been through it. What would a first-time author expect if you were editing his/her manuscript?

I offer suggestions on how to improve a manuscript overall, things like weak character motivation, unlikely scenarios, inconsistencies, awkwardly worded sentences, head hopping, areas needing clarification, telling instead of showing, and in depth line edits, such as filter words, misspellings, and various other errors.

What common mistakes do you encounter that cause you to reject a manuscript?

Probably the most common issues that would cause me to reject are weak plots and lack of conflict. Those are difficult to fix without a total rewrite and changing the story completely. I see a lot of manuscripts with issues such as telling instead of showing, head hopping, and too many filter words. I often allow an author a chance to revise and resubmit to fix those issues. If they understand and are able to rectify the problems, I oftentimes offer a contract.

How do you handle sensitive writers who question every edit you make?

I’ve never had an author who questioned every edit, but I have had some who feel their manuscript doesn’t need some of the suggestions I make. I am flexible in many areas, and I will listen to an author’s opinion. However, there are certain edits I feel strongly about and have to insist the author make the corrections.

How do you handle writers whose rewrites aren’t what you’re looking for?

I thank them for their hard work and let them know what they did right, but explain that their manuscript is still not contract ready. I’m amazed at how many authors are grateful for the feedback rather than being argumentative and defensive. Many of them tell me that they have never had an editor take the time to give them details on what is wrong with their writing.

Have you ever been in a situation where you and the author decided it just wouldn’t work and decided to part ways?

Only once that I can recall. I had an author who disagreed strongly with my insistence that the head hopping issues should be fixed. This author felt that I should allow it since a lot of successful authors do it. I explained that they can get by with it because they ARE successful, but for a new author it’s not a good idea, and it’s a deal breaker for me. I really loved her story and was disappointed when we parted ways. But I was happy a few months later when she contacted me and said she was ready to fix the issues if I would give her another opportunity. I did and we published her wonderful book.

What drew you to editorial work in the first place?

I enjoyed critiquing and judging contests. I loved the feeling of an author coming back to me and thanking me for making their book better, for helping them become a better writer. When an opportunity to edit for The Wild Rose Press presented itself, I jumped at it.

Do you write, and if so do you edit your own work?

I do write, but no, I do not edit my own work. There is no way I want my work published until someone else has gone over it—usually a few someone else’s—and offered suggestions on improving the story. I can see things in other people’s writing that I totally overlook in my own. I definitely need all the help I can get.

Can you recommend any blogs on writing?

Not any blogs I can think of, but The Wild Rose Press has an excellent resource for writing tips and assistance. Here is the link: On the same site, they have an editor blog with some very helpful advice.

About me:

Alicia Dean Tin Man Color

I have edited for The Wild Rose Press since they opened their doors in 2006 (I edit for them under the name Ally Robertson). I have worked most often with Suspense and Paranormal manuscripts, although I have also edited other genres. Additionally, I am a freelance editor for myself and a proofreading editor for Finish the Story. You can learn more here: And here: I am a published author as well. My website is: I love to read, love to write, love to help other authors, and love discovering new stories.

Thank you for stopping by. I would love to answer any questions you  might have.


5 thoughts on “Ask the Editor – Alicia Dean

  • Hi, Alicia,

    I enjoyed reading a little more about you. You said when an opportunity to work for TWRP presented itself you jumped at the chance. My question is, how did you hear about the opening? I often wonder how editors find their jobs.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Hi Monique, thank you for stopping by. In my case, I was an online friend and a critique partner of Rhonda Penders, who opened the company with RJ Morris. Rhonda asked me to head up the Suspense line of the company. A bit later, I stepped down as Senior Editor due to time constraints but remained on as an editor. I can’t speak for others on how they find theirs. 🙂

    Have a great weekend!


  • Good interview. You bring up so many ways an author can fix his/her own manuscript before submitting.

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