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Alana Saltz

Alana Saltz is a writer, freelance editor, and occasional musician residing in Los Angeles, California.

She’s always loved words and stories. Alana decided she wanted to be a writer at the age of six years old, and she hasn’t looked back since. Music has also been a long time passion of hers. A couple years ago, she happened to see a ukulele at a guitar shop, and decided to start playing it just for fun. Alana fell in love with the instrument and soon began writing her own songs.

Alana offers professional editing services to writers and students. She’s worked on a variety of projects, ranging from novels to academic dissertations.

When she’s not writing, editing, or playing her uke, you might find Alana reading books, working on cool projects with her boyfriend, or watching movies on Netflix.

MOST IMPORTANTLY What kind of entries are you looking for in your Pitch to Publication query box?
  • Contemporary, realistic YA and NA fiction. Think John Green, Jandy Nelson, A.S. King, and Rainbow Rowell. Some romance within the larger plot is great, but I'm not a big fan of romance as a genre.
  • Thoughtful and compelling memoir that addresses a personal story as well as a larger cultural, social, or psychological issue. My favorite memoirists include Cheryl Strayed, Stacy Pershall, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Dave Eggers.
  • Adult contemporary or literary fiction, preferably with first-person narrator(s). I'm very, very picky when it comes to adult fiction, so it needs to be engaging, coherent, and unique. Something along the lines of Truman Capote, Janet Fitch, Nick Hornby, or Jennifer Egan.
  • Major brownie points for diverse stories featuring characters from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, physical and mental abilities, and/or mental health issues. Must be done in a tasteful and natural way, and must be well-researched if personal experience isn't enough.
  • Most of all, I want to find a story that grabs me and won't let me go. Something that feels familiar and relatable yet unlike anything I've seen before. If you have a story like that, I'd love to read it.
What is your writing and editing background?

I have a BA in English from Occidental College and an MFA in Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. I've been working as a freelance editor since 2009, helping a total of over 70 clients with everything from creative manuscripts to academic dissertations. My own essays and articles have been published in The Los Angeles TimesThe Huffington PostHelloGiggles, and RoleReboot, and I've completed two book-length works, a contemporary YA novel and a memoir.

What are your major editing accomplishments?

My 2015 Pitch to Publication mentee, Lucy Ledger, went on to sign with Moe Ferrara of BookEnds Literary during the agent round. I'm incredibly proud of her and her YA novel, Miles Away From You. I also helped a 70-year-old man successfully self-publish his very first book (a memoir) earlier this year. We worked together for over six months to refine and rewrite his story, and the end result was very professional and has gained many five-star reviews on Amazon.

Do you have a general philosophy for how you approach your editing work?

I try to bring out the best in every manuscript I edit, but what matters most to me is helping the writer tell the story that he or she wants to tell. Even if something doesn't fit my personal taste, I make sure to analyze the structure and content objectively and within the lens of the genre to bring out its strengths.

What types of books do you enjoy working with?

I enjoy all things realistic and contemporary. I think the real world is endlessly magical and fascinating, and helping authors capture an authentic and moving moment on the page is what I live for as an editor.

What are the most common mistakes you see in new writer's ​work?

Unfortunately, bad spelling and grammar is a big one, and an aspect of craft that many new writers don't take seriously enough. Good writing can be easily overshadowed by poor technical skills. I also think a lot of new writers don't read enough in their chosen genres, which leads to falling back on stereotypes, tropes, and clichés they might not even know exist.

What’s the one thing most novelists don’t understand about the art of revision?

It's a long, arduous, and collaborative process that can't be rushed or forced. You have to take your time with revisions, letting things sit and stew, trying new storylines and potentially even rewriting the whole book from page 1 if needed. It's not always fun, but if you get consistent feedback from readers and/or editors that something isn't working, it's worth the time and effort to improve it.

What’s one easy thing every writer can do right now to make themselves a better writer?

Read, read, read. Read widely and critically. Study what the masters do and get inspired by their work.

What is the most important consideration in selecting a book editor?

Finding someone who specializes in the genre(s) you write is key. I wouldn't be much use to someone who writes sci-fi or fantasy (beyond the copyediting level) because those aren't genres I regularly read, write, or study. 

Why would a writer need a book editor?

It's crucial to get a critical eye on your work from someone you have no personal connection with. Unbiased feedback will help you see your writing in new and nuanced ways.

What do you do for fun that does not deal with the literary scene?

I play ukulele and watch way too many TV shows. My favorites include Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Friends, Rick and Morty, Sherlock, Freaks and Geeks, Gilmore Girls, and Mr. Robot.

Seriously, we need to know your favorite meal and why?

I'm a sucker for an excellent Pad Thai accompanied by a Thai iced tea with boba. Mmmm.

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