Editor Interview Number Four – Kris Kendall

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. Thank you so much for having me. I’m Kris Kendall of Final-Edits.com. I’ve been editing for indie authors for about four years now and have had such an amazing experience. What started out as an occasional project has turned into my obsession. It’s so much fun!

How did you get into this line of work? I started with just offering free services to friends who were writing Twilight fanfiction but needed a little help with the proofreading. And when I say friends, I mean strangers that I stalked because I loved their stories. I built a few close friendships there that led into the business I have today. It’s been quite a ride!

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? I generally refuse religious and non-fiction work. I just can’t get into those and it’s hard for me to edit a book I don’t like. Even when you’re being paid, if you aren’t interested in the topic, it’s hard to be objective about what’s “boring” or what should be rewritten. I’ve had a few religious books slip through and I was very outspoken with my opinions on how I thought readers (well, me specifically) would react to their messages. Those clients haven’t been back. LOL. 😉

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? For the first three years of editing, I held onto the longtime opinion that “I could never write a book.”

However, I started working on a Mature YA book over the past year so I guess now I can say I’m a writer. I’ve learned a lot of what to do and what not to do by reading so many other authors that I feel it’s worth a shot. I might be terrible at it but I have to try at least once. When I’m done with my book, I’ll definitely use an editor. I have a few friends that will beta read for me and then I’ll hire a professional editor to really clean it up. Not only is it hard to self-edit but by the time I’m done, I’ll probably be sick of reading it.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? Don’t do it. No matter how ‘meticulous’ you think you are, you will miss errors that your brain fills in. It might be references to sections that you’ve deleted and forgot about or just missing words that you don’t notice. Every book needs an objective set of eyes to review it at least once before it’s published. Some authors can get away with publishing first, editing, and then republishing but that usually only happens after many bad reviews have come in. Every one or two star review will hurt your ranking so it’s not worth the risk. A few more weeks could save a lot of heartache in the long run.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word manuscript. Well, I still have a full-time “day job” so my editing schedule is probably slower than someone who can do it all day long. So, a 100k word manuscript will usually take me 2-4 weeks, depending on how “life” is going. I start at the beginning and use word “track changes” to mark it up. Unless it’s just a high level proofread, I look up every word that I’m not familiar with and spend a lot of time on the Chicago Manual of Style website.

I’m no grammar nazi so I have to look up the same rules about comma usage and hyphens and compound words on a daily basis. You’d think it would stick but I always feel better when I look up a rule (even if I’ve looked it up 100 times before) just to make sure.  I also make a lot of notes to the author about where I’m confused or I think something is out of character. It’s so easy to have a phrase (remember “sure, sure”) that is a signature of one character but then when other characters start using it, it’s not always intentional. Sometimes just a simple “did you mean to do that” to the author will make a big difference in the flow of a story.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? For me, a proofread is really about finding errors but editing is taking the book to the next level. It’s pointing out where something is missing or confusing and rewriting sentences to flow better. Those aren’t necessarily errors but the book is better when a word isn’t repeated four times over two sentences.

I try to read slowly when I’m editing so I’m really “hearing” every word in my head and paying attention to details like the time of day or the placement of body parts. For example, if the woman is resting her left hand on the guy’s waist, she probably isn’t also biting her left pinky nail in the next sentence. Silly things like that can stop up a reader so I try to find those things and adjust them before they leave my desk. Just changing it to biting her right pinky nail isn’t going to change the intention of the story but now it’s physically plausible.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? My favorite part is when I find a major plot hole or inconsistency that could have really ruined the story. It doesn’t happen with every book but sometimes an author just forgets about a detail or changes something that has a ripple effect and when I can catch that and save that book from a string of bad reviews, I feel like it’s worth all the long nights I put into it.

My least favorite part is having to constantly look up grammar rules. LOL. I didn’t like it in school and I don’t love it now….but that’s part of the job.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? Constantly. I can’t really fall asleep without some kindle time. Sometimes it’s only twenty minutes but other nights I can read for hours. The worst is when I’m still reading when the morning alarm goes off. Those are usually rough days.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” I do notice typos in almost every book I read (self-published or not) but I can ignore them for the most part. If it’s a really good book with really bad mistakes, I’ll often write a note to the author and offer to edit for them…sometimes for free. It breaks my heart when a good book gets trashed because the author had a bad editor or no editor at all.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Look up everything. If you aren’t sure about a word, look it up. I use merriam-webster as my bible. However they spell it is how I spell it. Same with commas and hyphens and semicolons. If you aren’t sure, look it up. It only takes a few minutes and will make a huge difference in the quality of your work.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Be prepared to get some negative comments about typos. No matter how many times you read it, you’ll still miss a few (or a lot). I know budgets are tight and it’s hard to justify paying an editor for a book that might not make a penny…but if you think you have something that people will buy, you’ll regret not getting it up to par at the beginning. Also, and this might sound harsh but it’s true, indie authors tend to get a bad rep for having lots of typos and every book that goes out without a proper edit just makes it that much harder for the indies to be taken seriously. If you can’t afford an editor, contact a local high school (if your content is appropriate for those grade levels) and ask if they have any students that would be willing to help for $50. You might be surprised what an AP English student can do. It might not be perfect but it’ll be better than nothing.

(Want proof? How many typos did you find in this post? I self-edited it twice! 😉

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2 thoughts on “Editor Interview Number Four – Kris Kendall

  1. What a smart, interesting, insightful interview! Everything Kris Kendall says here about editing is right on, and a few of her points stood out for me—in particular her parting advice to authors who go the self-editing, error-prone route. In just a few sentences Kendall captures the essence, or the key as they say, of the indie publishing sphere’s reputation. I wonder if young writers realize how radically altered the publishing landscape has become in just a few short years? Since so much of this is relatively new, many lifelong readers still don’t take it seriously; some look down on ebooks as somehow ‘unreal.’ I confess it took me—a reader, writer, and editor—some time to come around, and view ebooks as real as those I can hold in my hand. It’s a matter of acculturation; for me it took a year or so reading on the Kindle. Some people will never use an electronic reader, though, and they’ll never come around—which is why print book publishers should stop fretting; they won’t be dead and buried any time soon! The point is, digital format will never be taken seriously if authors continue to toss out books full of typos, grammatical errors, and bad punctuation (the typos alone are bad enough!).

    As a reader I’ve discovered more well-written, entertaining indie ebooks than I expected to find: they’ve far outnumbered the badly written. Yet even the well-written contain mistakes; one that I actually loved repeated the same mistake over and over. If that author hired an editor, she was lousy at her job. Why should we writers care? We should care because ebooks rife with errors contribute to a bad collective image; that is, they implicate the business as a whole. My compulsive editing habit might be neurotic, but hey, someone’s got to stay on the case! Sloppy work makes me cringe. If I have to wade through a lot of crap, I just stop reading, and never get to uncover the literary gems that just might lie beneath.

    It’s bad when writers think they don’t need an editor, and it’s just as bad when they think good editing should come cheap. Writers who expect to pay an artist decent money for a cover have stunned me with the price they offer me to edit. I’ve frequently taken on a job that, once it’s finished and I calculate the hours, ends up paying less than minimum wage. Editing is a profession, not a game or a hobby. At the very least it is WORK; and the fact is, editors pay rent like everybody else. We deserve to be decently compensated.

    I appreciate your posting these editorial interviews. They highlight the complexity of what’s involved in editing and will hopefully go a long way towards improving public perceptions. I’m truly grateful to you for providing the space to showcase this work.


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