Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.
–Thank you so much for inviting me!
Please introduce yourself.
–I’m N. R. Champagne, Nina to my friends and clients.
How did you get into this line of work?
–Funnily enough, I was first drawn to it when I was going through the beta-reading stage with my first book. I was lucky enough to find some really good beta readers, one of whom was in the process of becoming an editor. I had done word processing and editing earlier in my life. I saw that there was a need for reasonably priced editing, and I decided to offer my own services to other indie authors.
Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love?
–I wouldn’t refuse any genre, and I do both fiction and nonfiction. My favorites are the ones I write in: fantasy and science fiction (including dystopia/postapocalyptic fiction). But I think I would refuse any manuscript that had themes of hatred, excessive violence, or violent sex.
Are you also a writer? If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor?
–Yes, I am a writer. In fact, that’s how I got into editing. My first book, Prodigal Angel, was critiqued, beta-read and proofread by multiple readers, but not outside edited. I won’t make the same mistake with my next book, though.
What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors?
–I can certainly understand authors wanting to self-edit; the fees for professional editing are quite daunting. It’s not unusual to pay a big editing house $2,000 or more for a 100K-word manuscript. Of course, I charge about a quarter of that; somewhere around $500 for a basic line edit. It’s not because my editing is not as good as theirs–I believe it might be better! It’s just that as a small service, I have no real overheads so I can charge much less. I’ve seen too many books self-published with bad grammar; it’s a real turn-off to readers. Authors need to remember that no matter how good they are, another pair of eyes is essential. After you’ve been over your own work so many times, you tend to miss a lot. Also, an editor can point out problems with your manuscript you were never even aware of.
Have you ever refused a manuscript?
–No, but I have gotten some for reviews in the past that I couldn’t go through with because they were so bad. But a manuscript going to an editor should be in better shape by that point; an editor expects the manuscript to have been critiqued, beta read, and revised by then, so that it’s ready for the editing stage.
Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it?
–I haven’t experienced that exactly, but I tend to work very closely with the author and I’m respectful of their wishes. My approach is, “The author is always right.” It’s their book, after all, not mine, and I am careful not to override their intentions. Often I will check with the author first if I want to change a certain way she does something, and the author can approve or reject any change I make. I have been asked why a certain change is called for, and I explain the reasoning for it. Usually, they accept it, but if they don’t want it, that’s their decision.
Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this?
–There seem to be two major complaints: First, editors can be rather autocratic, trying to override authors with what they think is correct and pushing their own ideas on them. I’m very careful not to do that; I try to discern the author’s unique voice and protect it. If that voice or style happens to include an ungrammatical way of doing something, so be it. Second, there are apparently some editors who are like building contractors: they’re slow, unreliable, and hard to get hold of! Again, I try to maintain a very close relationship with the author, working one-on-one with them to perfect their creation. I also believe in being professional and having integrity in business. That means keeping to schedule and being available.
Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. (Line edit, content edit etc.)
–The process starts the same way whether it’s a basic line edit or a deeper content edit. Using Word’s Track Changes, I’ll go through the manuscript thoroughly to catch any errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. If it’s a deeper edit, I’ll make or suggest changes to improve the clarity and flow of the prose. This means different word choices and/or arrangements. If I’m doing a developmental, I will take notes as I go along so I can make constructive suggestions regarding the plot, characters, voice, etc. After I’ve gone through the whole thing, I’ll do another pass to check for anything I may have missed. Once it’s done, the author will be able to keep or reject any changes I’ve incorporated, and they can rewrite parts (or not) based on the content suggestions I’ve made. Lastly, I’ll do the developmental write-up, if that was desired.
What is the difference between proof-reading and editing?
–I’m really glad you asked me that, because I’ve noticed that the word “proofreading” is being misused by many freelance editors. They’re using it to mean a basic line edit. That’s not correct. Editing is done first to correct errors and improve a manuscript; proofreading is done in the very last stage before printing, on an already edited manuscript, to catch anything that might have been missed up until then. It’s a final once-over.
Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t?
–I actually enjoy everything about it. It’s fun and interesting to get to read all these different, creative stories, to get to know the authors, and there’s a lot of satisfaction in helping to make their books better!
Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most?
–I do read a lot, and I most enjoy reading in the genres in which I write: fantasy, science fiction, dystopian and paranormal. I have a blog post I think you’ll find interesting, about why we need fantasy and science fiction. You can read it here: http://nrchampagne.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/why-do-we-need-fantasy-and-science.html
If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?”
–Unfortunately, I am finding more and more that I can’t “switch off” when I’m reading. I just started the second in Anne Rice’s werewolf series: The Wolves of Midwinter. I’d never before noticed her quirky, ungrammatical approach to punctuation, but now it’s driving me crazy!
What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor?
–I think it’s essential to get some kind of training–there are plenty of courses out there–and to familiarize yourself with the Chicago Manual of Style. Like many occupations, it’s possible to be good at it just by learning; unfortunately, however, you can’t be really excellent without an inherent talent. It might be a good idea to have that natural bent for it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit?
–Don’t do it–call me! *laughs*
Tell us a silly fact about yourself.
–I’ve developed the rather disturbing habit of talking to myself out loud when I’m shopping. It helps me stay focused and not forget anything! I do get strange looks occasionally…
Please add any links to your blog/website etc.
Editor website: www.champagne-editing.com
Author website: www.nrchampagnebooks.com
Facebook: N.R. Champagne
Amazon Prodigal Angel page: http://amzn.to/1koeXXu