Manuscript Critique
Affordable Book Editing From Stephen King's First Editor

Meet the Editor

About Me, My Family, My Career, and My Inspirations

I'm Michael Garrett, an internationally respected book editor and author living in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama. My world revolves around my wife of 30+ years, two adult children, and three grandchildren, two beautiful girls and a handsome young boy.

I was first published over 35 years ago in two major magazines, a short story entitled “Brief Encounter” in Twilight Zone and a Dun’s Review brief business humor piece entitled “Accounts Playable,” which was subsequently republished internationally.

From there my short fiction appeared internationally in the Hot Blood Series. My first novel, Keeper, (available on the App Store, Play Store, and on Amazon (also avaiable via Amazon's Audible & Kindle), was published in 1990 and sold out its initial printing, was optioned for a movie, and remains available in print, digital, and audio formats.

I’m currently working on a second novel, Desperate Measures.

Professional Experience

I was Stephen King's first editor/publisher and in my capacity as co-editor of the Hot Blood Series have worked with such greats as Joyce Carol Oates, Harlan Ellison, Lawrence Block, and many others. I was an Editorial Associate of the Writer's Digest School and have commercial book editing experience with Pocket Books and Kensington Publishing.

I'm one of few book editors for hire recommended by the highly reputable Preditors & Editors website and am listed in The Literary Marketplace, the publishing industry's official directory of proven commercial professionals, as well as PublishersMarketplace.com.

Editorial Philosophy

Writers are entertainers. They don't perform on stage or screen, but on the printed page. Keep your audience in mind as you write; you're writing for them, not for yourself.

I respect the author's creative voice. I believe authors and artists have much in common, only writers paint pictures with words. I would never attempt to put words into an author's mouth just as someone should never tell a painter where to apply his/her brush. I tell an author where a problem exists and explain why it's a problem, but the author should decide independently what to do about it; I never want to intrude on nor disrespect the author's vision.

As an editor, I stress that anything that doesn't advance the storyline or characterization should be considered for deletion. Readers like stories that progress at a steady, reasonable pace and are likely to be distracted by details that may ultimately prove to be irrelevant.

Inspirations & Influencers

My own writing career was heavily inspired and influenced by Rod Serling and his classic '60s television series, "Twilight Zone." I was enthralled by the way he showcased ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and I especially loved the plot twists common to Twilight Zone stories. I've tried to accomplish something similar in everything I've written. I personally feel that readers love to be surprised.

I was also inspired by Richard Matheson, a terrific author from my youth who passed away in 2013. Mr. Matheson's work was always lean and fast paced. He rarely burdened his reader with excessive verbiage. He was direct and to the point.

My favorite author, when I have an opportunity to read for pleasure, is Harlan Coben. I enjoy stories that pull me in quickly and give me a reason to continue reading, the earlier in the story, the better. A perfect example is the opening line of Mr. Coben's No Second Chance:

When the first bullet hit my chest, I thought about my daughter.

In one brief opening line, Mr. Coben presents a character who survives multiple gunshots and is a passionate father, concerned about his daughter as he thinks he is dying. That’s a lot to accomplish in one brief line!

I encourage all writers to bond the reader with the lead character as early in the text as possible.