In the Margins with David Gatewood

I work with what I believe to be the best editor in the business. David Gatewood has become the editor for indie authors, with his services highly in-demand. David has worked with me since I published WOOL. He’s had a hand in nearly everything I’ve written since.

As I was going through his edits for the latest BEACON 23 story, I kept thinking how his comments were just too good to be deleted and forgotten. So I’m sharing them with you. If you are a writer and can snag David for your project, smart move. David’s website is here. Have fun. :)

David Gatewood Marshall Gatewood Gatewood 3 Gatewood 4 Gatewood 5




This last comment is in reference to an earlier comment. And all of these are from one 9k short story. The margins of a fully edited David Gatewood novel deserve to be published in their own coffee table book.



35 responses to “In the Margins with David Gatewood”

  1. And now you have another possible product (albeit one that you would need to split revenue on). Create a PDF of the commented version and give that out as a bonus. True Fans are always fascinated by this sort of “making of” production information.

    1. Yes! That would be an awesome thing. I like seeing how things come into their final awesome form.

    2. I second this!

  2. Great post. Nice to see a bestseller like you, Hugh, make the same mistakes. LOL! I’ve created a very close nit group of copy editors and cover artists, but will definitely check out David Gatewood.

  3. Has he ever picked you up on your habit of using “drug” as the past tense of “drag”? :)

    1. No, because he knows I’m not wrong. :)

      1. Oh, this makes my stomach a little queasy. I have to go lie down now.

        But I would appreciate more sharing of the edits nonetheless ;)

      2. OMG that drug vs. dragged thing chaps my ass. I get readers telling me I’m wrong all the damn time. Dragged sounds wrong to me! Gah!

        1. What about ‘leapt’ vs ‘leaped’? Or ‘dreamt’ vs ‘dreamed’? The first for both sound the best to me, but every auto-correct tells me I’m wrong – including this one!

          1. The variant ending with a “t” instead of “ed” is correct British grammar.

      3. What?!? Drug? This hurts my British ears. Now I know why so many American reviewers rip into me about the word whilst. #everydayisaschoolday

      4. Um – I hate to quibble* but the link Hugh gives says that “drug” is only OK in informal dialect and that “dragged” is the safer choice. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, the UK magazine The Economist has a style guide with a list of words that work for both US and UK audiences. It’s available as an ebook: asin – B00SMJWTAU
        *That wasn’t true. I love quibbling.

      5. I read that same article after reading Jon’s comment!

      6. Ok, no. Just no. “Drug” is wrong. Full stop. End of dictation.

        Luckily the English language is flexible and adaptable and doesn’t get in the way of good story telling :)

  4. I’m an editor, and although I do edit for several authors I’ve quite comfortably settled in with one author in particular. I often write very silly comments to her, especially on those nights when editing rolls deep into the night. Good to see authors with a great sense of humor and relationship with their editor! Bravo!

  5. I’m jealous–I somehow doubt many of my editing clients would appreciate it if I wrote comments like “I told you already that ‘inhale’ isn’t a noun–are you dim or something, or just trying to kill me?” Maybe I should add an option to my services: “Check this box for pseudo-abusive commentary.” And then I’d have to figure out if I should charge more or less to include this service…

    1. Tammi Labrecque Avatar
      Tammi Labrecque

      Wayne S could take it, Eliza. :D

      I do Dawn McKenna’s edits, and this is pretty much how I talk to her, lol. The two of them are great pals; I think you should try it. :)

    2. It’s even better when we do drafts together, where I comment back, and then David comments on my comment, and we get a running commentary going. Those are HILARIOUS.

  6. Knowing those slightly obscure rules like awhile versus a while is the sign of a good editor. Most people won’t notice if it’s wrong, but those who would appreciate that it’s not.

  7. Pfft..Yes..Pffft.. I use software to help edit and then I decide If I’m wrong. However, the only way I learned to make sure that 99% of the book has no errors is to actually read it, and have a software read it to me. I’ve found many errors by listening and watching the software read it to me as I watch or even when I’m not watching. For example: The man did did not know. My text to speech caught that error. You could have someone edit it as well, by I trust only myself since it gives me peace of mind knowing that I’ve gone over and over it again. I haven’t had any complaints according to the reviews to my well selling books. Editing is the worst part of writing a story. It is absolutely brain draining…I’ve become very good at editing myself since I’ve started using editing software. After much research regarding errors, I’ve learned a lot and never stop learning and making sentences flow smoothly, while keeping up a good pace.. I’ve must have made many errors in writing this reply, yes, well, I’m not selling anything so I don’t care) its my lazy wrtinggg Enjoy!

  8. Jason Lockwood Avatar
    Jason Lockwood

    I absolutely LOVE editor comments. The editor of my soon-to-be-released book had some great comments about things that were totally confusing to her, but made sense to me, the writer. Editors are a must because they force us to be better writers. God bless ’em!

  9. That’s it… I’m shame-posting Gatewood the next time he quibbles with my use of “lift” vs. “rise.” #lol

  10. Marshal is also a verb, not just an officer’s title. You marshal resources. Not to be confused with martial, of course.

  11. David is indeed exceptionally good at what he does. Unfortunately, he’s also a gigantic smartass and uses the margins mostly to make fun of me. So, buyer beware…along with a bit of genius you get a large helping of pain in the ass.

    Is it worth the trade off?

    Um, hell yeah it is, Nice to see David getting the run he deserves.

  12. How come David never leaves comments like that for me???????


    1. Try fucking up every now and then like the rest of us! :P

  13. Editing is such a painful process at times. I bet it’s easier with a bit of humour though.

  14. I would totally pay 99c to buy the Word track changes with comments. Totally.

  15. This is great! My editor leaves a similar amount of educational, opinionated and informative comments in the margins of my work as well. It makes for a great experience for me – I’m growing and having fun on another level during the editing process!

  16. This makes me want to write a book just so I can hire him to edit.

  17. Stephen Drivick Avatar
    Stephen Drivick

    I get little margin notes from my editor as well. He knows me pretty good now, and the comments are getting clever and hilarious. :)

  18. I laughed out loud when I read this, because my editor does the exact same thing. Then I promptly sent the link to her, and she said, See? I’m not the only one who gets impatient.

    We love this.

  19. Charlie Magee Avatar

    Hey Hugh,
    Would you mind putting a Search field back into the sidebar column? I’ve been reading some of your publishing tips and tricks and now it’s much harder to find them.

    1. Hi Charlie,

      Even without an on-site search function, you can still search a website. Go to Google and type in:


      Then a space, then the word you want to search for. If you want to search for more than one word, put them in quotes. Also, notice that there’s no space between the colon and the URL.

      Hope this helps! :-)

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