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Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Thank you! I appreciate the opportunity to chat with you.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your editing experience.

My name is Lynda Dietz, and I’m a homeschooling mama who is a voracious reader. I’m a newer editor, and have worked with three authors so far for a total of five books. I’ve enjoyed all of them: the books as well as the authors themselves.

How did you get into this line of work?

I think I naturally gravitated toward editing because of homeschooling. I’m always reading something for correction purposes, and I found myself more and more often wishing I could “do something” about the books I read that had easy-to-fix errors in them.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that?

I’m new enough that I’ve not had the opportunity to refuse work yet. 😉 But I would probably refuse to edit erotica if it were offered. I want to be able to show off my work and promote the book when I’m done with it, and I just can’t imagine showing that to my mother, among others. Lots of people like it, but it’s just not my cup of tea; plus, I think it’s difficult to do erotic descriptions well, so I’d probably spend most of the editing time saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. No way!” I do prefer to stick with fiction for now, because I tend to read fiction more frequently than non-fiction; when I’ve learned more, maybe I’ll be comfortable editing non-fiction.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor?

I am not a writer, although I’ve always had a knack for writing creatively. The mechanics are not the difficult part—it’s the imagination part I have a problem with. I can’t tell you what to say, but I can tell you how to say it well. If I were ever inspired to try my hand at writing, though, I would definitely use the services of another editor. A critique partner, beta readers, friends, family, and a professional editor at the end of it all…whatever it takes.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors?

I really think every author needs an extra set of eyes to look over his or her work. And by an extra set of eyes, I specifically mean someone who’s not a family member or friend. Those particular people can be invaluable when shoring up your ideas, for continuity, flow—and to tell you if your book is boring. However, a friend or family member may read your manuscript and “see” things that aren’t there, simply because they know you, and know what you “meant” to say. A neutral party will see what’s written. Period. I think so many of the simple errors found in self-published books could have been fixed prior to the book’s release, if only the author had gotten a qualified person to take even the briefest of looks.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript.  

I’m a copy editor who gets the manuscript when it’s as close to “perfect” as it’s going to be, since I don’t edit during the writing process itself. That type of substantive editing involves plot, character development, and more, which should all be tidily taken care of by the time it gets to me.

I’m sure it’s different for every editor, but I like to work with individual chapters at first. For a lighter edit (typos, improper usage), I have an easily-manageable number of pages to shoot for each time I sit down to work. If I’m dealing with a heavier edit (sentence overhaul or restructuring), I can send off one chapter at a time back to the author, discussing what’s needed. I read through and create a style sheet as I go along, listing character names, terms, places, and anything specific to that book. I then make any necessary changes to obvious spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Anything more complicated, such as odd verb tenses or proper phrasing, gets looked at when the “easy” stuff is done. I keep my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and a few dictionaries close by to look up items of which I’m even the slightest bit unsure. Sometimes my memory will play tricks on me, and it’s always better to look it up than to guess.

When I feel the whole manuscript is as smooth as possible, I send it back to the author for approval. The author then returns it to me as a complete work, and I start off by going through my style sheet. If a word is always capitalized or hyphenated I look at each mention of it and make it consistent. I check for proper spelling of each character’s name, odd things like military squadron numbers and eye/hair color. Thank goodness for the “find/replace” feature of word processing programs! It certainly speeds up the process. I read through the whole thing once more, and I’m always surprised at the dumb things I missed the first time around.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing?

Until I started editing “for real,” I didn’t know there was a difference! Proofreading in its truest sense is comparing one document to another, making sure they match exactly. For example, if you were comparing addresses or invoice numbers, or checking a final draft to make sure the author approved the surface changes you said were necessary, that would be proofreading.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t?

I enjoy almost the entire process. I get to read, which is something I always want to do in my spare time, and I get to “fix,” which satisfies my need for order. Sadly, that need for order doesn’t seem to transfer to housework-related things; only books. I love the fact that I get to see an author’s work before anyone else gets a peek at it, and it’s very satisfying to know I’m helping it to be seen at its best. The only part I don’t really enjoy is when a book has been such a heavy edit that I feel like I’d rather do anything than read through it one…more…time. Seventy-five to one hundred hours with the same book can be tedious. But even then, when it’s all said and done, I’m as excited as the author is when it’s released.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure?

Oh, yes! Reading is one of my favorite ways to spend free time.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?”

Sometimes I catch myself in editing mode while reading for pleasure, and then I think, “Oh yeah, I don’t have to worry about that.” Other times, it drives me crazy enough that I have to put the book down if it’s bad enough.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor?

Don’t assume you’re able to edit simply because you love to read. Learn ALWAYS. Find people who know more than you do, and listen to their advice. I made a new friend online who’s been editing for over two decades, and she not only recommended a slew of helpful (and necessary!) books to have on hand, but she’s available when I get stuck. She’s been actively mentoring me, and I’m so thankful for her knowledge.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit?

Do it to the best of your ability, but then take the extra step (and often, the added expense) and have a knowledgeable, unbiased person go through your manuscript. It doesn’t have to break your piggy bank, but make sure you see samples of the person’s work first so you’re sure they’re qualified. It’s always worth the extra time it takes to get it right the first time, rather than to have to correct it later and hope readers will give you a second chance.

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

My blog is called Easy Reader, and the link is http://ilovetoreadyourbooks.blogspot.com

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