Editor Interview Number Two – Teresa Kennedy

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

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your editing experience. I’m Teresa Kennedy and I’ve worked in publishing for most of my adult life. I’ve served as a Senior  and Acquisitions Editor for a number of publishers and worked as a literary agent and scout. In addition, I did a lot of contract work for packagers and private clients, as well as having authored over 30 of my own books under my own and various pseudonyms. I then worked for a number of years for various editorial firms. In 2011, I partnered with a former client who appreciated my experience to form Village Green Press LLC, which offers a range of editorial, publishing and marketing services for independent authors.

How did you get into this line of work? I had quite a few stories published as early as college, so when I moved to New York in 1975, I naturally gravitated to the industry. I got a job as a Production Editor and moved up the ranks.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Hard science fiction or highly technical thrillers tend to go a bit over my head. I’m not well-versed in some of the sciences, so I just feel another editor might be a better fit.

I believe you are also a writer, do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Do you find yourself being very critical of your own work? I always use the services of another editor. Most authors don’t understand that editing and writing really do comprise different skill sets. An author can read his or her own work a million times and still not see errors or inconsistencies. Some writers make good editors, but not all of them. As for being critical of my own work, I consider that the most important part of the writing effort is getting it done! That’s one of the reasons I rely heavily on editorial feedback, because when I’m writing, I’m not terribly critical of my own work.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors?  That’s a pretty broad question! Let me say that it depends on the author, their level of experience and their talent for writing. While self-editing is certainly important, I rarely see a self-edited work that can’t be improved in some way. Too, while it’s important to write for yourself, it’s equally important to write for your potential readers. A lot of what I do is to play the role of a professional reader; I ask lots of questions, I tell them when something’s not working or the pace is off, etc. A lot of self-edited writers aren’t going to see the same things that I do.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word manuscript. Again, that pretty much depends on the shape the manuscript is in when it first comes to me. Basically though, there’s an initial read through with light edits, questions about plot or character; notes on where the story development or plot may be weak, as well as comments about how well a book may fit its genre and eventual marketing. That’s usually done for a flat fee and depending on the author’s level of experience involves a fair amount of coaching and what is known as content editing.

After it has been revised, I’ll usually do a line edit, which is a line by line, in depth process. I’ll rearrange paragraphs so that the prose flows more smoothly, clean up excess verbiage and correct any obvious problems with syntax, point of view, etc.

Finally, proofreading will check for spelling errors, correct punctuation and clear up any remaining inconsistencies or mistakes before publication. It’s basically the final polish. Many authors these days are in something of a rush to publication, so I do offer an editing package that combines all 3 services, but only to those clients whose manuscripts are in pretty good shape to start with.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I have to say that I really enjoy the more collaborative aspects of editing that involve story and character development. Plot and character are really so intimately related; you can’t have a great plot without great characters and vice versa. So when I see opportunities where one or the other can be strengthened to the point where a good book becomes a really great book– that makes me happy, because I know the author will learn things about their craft that they will always carry with them. By the same token, it can be difficult to offer an author advice he just doesn’t want to hear or who doesn’t want to do the work necessary to improve his craft. I’m never out to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I told an author his work was wonderful when it wasn’t.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? Of course! The only reason to stay in this business is because of your love of books.

If so do you find yourself editing the book as you go or are you able to “switch off” as you read? Reading for pleasure is just that, reading for work is editing.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Be aware that it’s difficult and competitive and that editing is a lot more than correcting punctuation and running things through a software program. It involves developing real relationships with your clients and earning their trust. Intern at a traditional publishing house if at all possible. You can’t help an author achieve a professional standard in their work if you don’t know what those standards are.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Self-editing is an important skill because it makes the writing process easier. You learn to identify your quirks, your weaknesses and your mistakes. Every draft should go through a self-edit. But every book should also be professionally edited. Because when it comes down to making the hard decisions, self-editing is a lot like taking out your own appendix. It can be done, but it’s awfully painful!

What advice would you give to new authors? Love your work and keep at it. Don’t expect it to make you rich, famous or an overnight success. Get lots of feedback from friends and other writers and hire the best professional help you can afford for editing, design and marketing. Always be willing to learn.



3 thoughts on “Editor Interview Number Two – Teresa Kennedy

  1. Good interview. Not having someone else look at your work is a recipe for disaster. The final product is only as good as the team who produces it and that means the author and the editors who worked on it. Some make the mistake of only engaging a copy editor and not working on the actual story, plot, pacing, characters etc, so it’s good to see that Teresa offers an all in one.


  2. Another great editor, and I do not use the adjective lightly! From what she says, I am sure Teresa does fantastic work! I’m learning from reading these interviews; I thought I was a good editor, but they put me to shame.

    I’m going to Quote that line about the appendix–I’m always posting quotes. Will include attribution of course!


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