Editor Interview Number Eleven – N. R Champagne

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

Blog: http://nrchampagne.blogspot.com

Facebook: N.R. Champagne

Twitter: @NRChampagne1

Amazon Prodigal Angel page: http://amzn.to/1koeXXu

 

 

 

Goodreads Photo med

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthologies and short stories – do you write them and do you read them?

I have to admit I was a little sceptical when I started writing for anthologies, after all many don’t pay a lot, or indeed anything. Short stories are also a challenge in themselves as they require the writer to be reasonably succinct. I’ve never been good at sticking within a word count. With the exception of a few sci-fi and horror books I didn’t read many and most of those have a shared them. So why the change?

I’ve always written short stories for my own entertainment, or occasionally friends/small groups and so, I guess, it was just a step on from this. Often I have found a story to tell which is no way enough for a novel or longer work but is entertaining in itself. Short stories have their market and often lead to more, or come from more – for example the short story in my own Tales of Erana which came from a tale told in the Shining Citadel.  Short stories are also a good way to hone one’s writing skills.

For a reader it is a fine way to discover a new author, or read something complete on a coffee break or commute to work. With a selection of stories there will, hopefully something to please everyone and if the reader doesn’t like a story then it is easy to simply skip to the next and not lose anything from a plot. For an author it is a great way to find new readers, make new friends and contacts and use ideas which might not otherwise be used. On the down side – many anthologies don’t pay or have very strict criteria and obviously short stories still take time to produce – time perhaps taken from other writing or non-writing commitments. Then, of course if an author decides to write a short story how much is appropriate to charge? Free? 99c/77p? $2.99? What is a reader willing to pay?

I’m a member of the Indie Collaboration, a Facebook based group of authors producing a varied selection of free anthologies, including a horror based one, a romance themed one and a children’s storybook. The downloads for these have been in the hundreds and rising, and the reviews mostly good. Being free means of course the authors don’t get paid but that is not the point, which is establishing a wider readership for the authors and producing good quality indie reads available to all.

http://theindiecollaboration.webs.com/our-authors

Have I seen an uptick in book sales since I’ve been writing short stories? Yes, my own anthology has been nominated for book of the month on one of the goodreads groups. I have also been asked to write for a few more and hopefully this will lead to further requests. I would have been unlikely to have produced Tales of Erana had I not started writing short stories again, and that is doing fairly well. I would also have not written Just One Mistake which features in Nine Heroes, Coel and his friends will certainly have at least one more adventure. It is always hard to judge whether the increases are due to the anthologies or other influences, such as author interviews, general promotion or word of mouth but they surely can’t hurt.

As a reader I have bought a few, finding them a great way to grab a quick read and I have bought the books of their authors or added their names to my to-be-read list. So for me at least short stories work.

Below I have listed polls – one for authors and one for readers asking questions about writing/reading habits regarding anthologies.

 

Reviews – are they really influential?

Reviews can be a contentious issue. The scandal of sock-puppetry, Amazon not allowing authors to review other authors, reviews being removed seemingly arbitrarily and the whole value of the review system itself on some sites has brought them to the fore.  There are a good number of reviews which are, frankly, worthless. They say nothing about the book or are just someone’s opinion on an author, are so gushing they look fake (although may not be) or so spiteful it looks like a hate campaign has begun.

It must be remembered reviews are OPINIONS, with the level of reliability that offers. That said opinions can be influential – for example I belong to Goodreads and they have a pretty liberal review policy. Authors can review other authors (authors are readers too!) and even, in theory themselves although there is a flag marking it as an author review.  Groups review between friends and this CAN be influential, a shared interest might swing a sale or get an author on the do not read list. There are some who feel the Goodreads reviews are… not reliable and authors can get victimised. In part this can be the case, but it is a small part.  There are many who do use them to record their own thoughts on a book, even if that thought is “I loved it.” As I said reviews are opinions and thus the good has to be taken with the bad. There will always be someone who dislikes a book.

Many reviews can be less than helpful, simply stating “I loved it” is not actually that helpful for other readers. Many readers will skim the less than helpful ones to find those give a concise and well-rounded review.  I suppose it depends on why the reviewer has actually left the review in the first place.

So really are they THAT important?

I ran the following experiment on one reader/author group on Goodreads and the results say quite a bit…

The question: How important are reviews in influencing your choice of book?

Total participants 27

Answers:

A good synopsis is more important – 11 votes, 40.7%

Reviews and a good synopsis are of equal value to me – 6 votes, 22.2%

Reviews are the most important consideration – 3 votes, 11.1%

Recommendations are most important -2 votes, 7.4%

A good synopsis is important, but reviews help -2 votes, 7.4%

I read reviews but they don’t affect my choice – 1 vote, 3.7%

Cover art, blurb, friends’ opinions then reviews if I bother to look – 1 vote, 3.7%

I never read reviews – 1 vote, 3.7 %

Cover art is most important – 0 votes

I never buy books with bad reviews – 0 votes.

On a second poll reviews only came 4th in the poll of how people find their books, after recommendations from friends, Books of the Months/ads and Listopia and other factors.

So although reviews are useful they are, perhaps, not AS useful as authors are led to believe in advice given. Reviews are predominately for readers, to praise or slate a book, as a reminder to check out that author again or to avoid him/her.

They are not the only factor but in combination with other considerations the results may vary… it certainly does not hurt to get good reviews.

There is a poll at the bottom of this post – feel free to vote.

http://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/89612-i-am-trying-to-do-some-research-as-to-the-importance-of-reviews-do-they

http://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/86593-how-do-you-find-the-bulk-of-your-books-please-note-which-option-applie