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ArmadilloCon 22

Editor Guest of Honor

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Betsy Mitchell

Betsy Mitchell received a degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska / Omaha and spent two years as a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald before moving to New York City. She served as managing editor of Analog magazine, senior editor at Baen Books, and associate publisher of Bantam Spectra before joining Warner Books in 1993 to found the Aspect line as Editor-in-Chief.

She edited such bestsellers as Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn and Virtual Light by William Gibson (both New York Times bestsellers); the Hugo Award-winner Hyperion by Dan Simmons; and the Nebula Award-winner Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler; and received a World Fantasy Award for co-editing the anthology Full Spectrum 4. Her author discoveries include such names as Roger MacBride Allen, David Feintuch, Nalo Hopkinson, J. V. Jones, Elizabeth Moon, James Stoddard, and Sarah Zettel. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband Gene Gardner, and their son Shawn.

Elizabeth Moon comments:
Back when I had sold no books, Betsy Mitchell was a senior editor for Baen Books, to which my agent had sent the unsold Sheepfarmer's Daughter. It was her signature on the letter explaining why Baen wouldn't buy the book, so my initial reaction was...to put it mildly...negative.

A month or so later, they bought it after all, and Betsy became my guide through the difficult stages of getting a book from manuscript to print. She sent me pages of revision requests for Sheepfarmer's Daughter, and patiently explained why she'd said to cut this or fix that. Her explanations always made sense, and I always learned something valuable from them.

While we were still working on Sheepfarmer's Daughter, the reaction of another writer made me change a big chunk of the middle and final book of the group. Some editors might have had conniptions when a new (to them, anyway) writer wanted to make major changes in a work already purchased, but Betsy took it in stride. Where she agreed, she said so; where she felt something else needed to be done, she said that--in a form I could understand. Finally, in the last book, she had to tell me that we needed to make a major cut because it was simply too long. She had found an entire chapter and a half she thought could go, though she said she really liked that chapter. By that time I trusted her enough to agree to the cut without argument.

In my opinion, the success of The Deed of Paksenarrion owes a lot to Betsy Mitchell's editorial and teaching ability; I've used what she taught me ever since.

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