Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

kathy-510x510-alex.jpg

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor Interview Number Ten – Mia Darien

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

Please introduce yourself. I’m Mia Darien. I’m a self-published author, as well as an editor, cover artist and book formatter. I also work for a book blog tour company. Outside of the literary world, I’m a New England Yankee living in Alabama, a wife and a mother, a geek, and general lunatic.

How did you get into this line of work? As I got into the publishing world, I became interested in helping other authors. I’ve experience in areas that helped me edit, so I edited. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t give away all this time for free, and it became a profession.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I don’t accept or refuse based on genre, but non-fiction is rare. I always love fantasy, though.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? I’m also a writer. Presently, I self-edit, but I apply the same standards, which means I go over every book twice.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? Honestly, if you can avoid it, you should. I don’t have a lot of choice presently, but most authors don’t have the editorial background to be able to edit their own work. So I would always recommend finding an editor if you can.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? No. The closest was one book where I did my first “pass” on it (I always do two), but there were elements that disturbed me and I cut my fee in half and didn’t do the second pass. That’s very rare, however. In fact, it’s only happened once.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? Typically, I return the edited manuscript and then let them do as they will. I’m sure that most authors don’t take all my changes. I’m fine with that. My edits are suggestions, not laws. The author is the end word on any story.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? Honestly, I can’t say I’ve heard much press about editors one way or the other. Every group gets bad press at some time or another. Just have to keep working and keep doing the best job you can.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. I don’t do full content editing, but I do offer notes about any large problems I see or inconsistencies. Otherwise, I edit. Every book is read over twice to make sure I catch as much as possible. I don’t always catch everything, but I get most of it. (No one can catch 100%, really.)

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? To me, proof-reading is the very basics: punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Editing, which is what I do, will fix awkward passages and word choices, make sure that the reading flow of the story is the best it can be.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? It’s very tedious work, if I’m being honest. But I love to work with other authors, be able to delve into their worlds for a while and help make them shine.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? Oh, of course. I love all kinds of genres, but epic fantasy always has a strong place in my heart.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” There is no switching off once you’ve done it for long enough. I can step away from a given project for a time, but the brain is always in Edit Mode. I find myself editing everything. Family’s facebook posts, closed captioning, traditionally published novels, my own text messages…

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Be thorough, be cautious, and be kind. You’re handling someone’s hard work, so even if there are lots of problems, don’t be nasty. Be thorough and cautious. Educate yourself about the process.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Educate yourself. Try to put time between the writing and the editing. If you edit immediately, you’ll be too familiar with the words and won’t catch things. Go slow.

 …otherwise, don’t do it unless you have to.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I still like “Sailor Moon” and even made up my own Sailor Scout for Halloween once when I was a teenager.

 

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

http://www.miadarien.com

Editor Interview Number Nine – Laurie Boris

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today. Hi! Thanks for the lovely welcome, and thank you for supporting so many authors and editors.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your editing experience. I’m Laurie, but you probably already know that. I’ve been copyediting, proofreading, and doing light developmental editing for about twenty years, back in the days of red pens and stuff. My educational and early professional background is in journalism, advertising, and marketing. I edited and proofed novels on the side, at first informally, for writing colleagues and my own work. About seven years ago, I moved into it professionally. Now, nearly all the authors I edit are indies.

How did you get into this line of work? It’s been an odd, slow climb. My mother went back to school when I was a kid, and by the time I was in junior high, she had me proofreading her papers. Taking advantage of my knack for finding errors, I guess. In college, I studied journalism and advertising—more editing there. Wherever I worked, it seemed, I became the person everyone went to before any writing went out the door. It feels like I evolved into editing and writing on parallel paths, gathering more training as I went along.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Apologies to the zombie fans, but I don’t need the nightmares.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Yes, I’m the author of four novels and one novella, and my work has been published in several anthologies. I self-edit to the best of my ability, but like so many other writers, I reach a point of saturation and need fresh eyes. After getting input from beta readers, I do hire an editor. It’s so hard to edit your own work thoroughly.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? I’ve never been in that position, although I might if it looked like the author needed to take another spin through the manuscript before editing – either because the story wasn’t well-developed enough or needed so many basic changes that it wouldn’t be cost-effective for the author to pay for several rounds of edits.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? Authors ultimately own their stories and can accept or refuse my suggestions. Some have declined, either on grounds of style or artistic license. I’m okay with that. In some cases, I’ve tried to make an argument for accepting a change, but you can’t force someone’s hand, particularly in areas that are subjective. The proper use of a semicolon, yes. Grammar constructs that leave a sentence vague, yes. Using a fragment when appropriate, I’m not going to argue. Breaking a “rule” if it works with the rhythm and tone of your book, ditto. If an author is dinged for grammatical or spelling errors in a review, then perhaps he or she should have taken my suggestions. Or at least have hired a proofreader to look at it before publication.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? I’ve seen two major arguments in the community. The first, I think, is when authors equate “editor” with “an enemy against creativity who will screw up my book,” either by sterilizing the author’s voice or creating a cookie-cutter story. Ugh. It fills me with such despair to hear those memes. And often it’s because the author is envisioning the type of editor who acquires manuscripts in big publishing houses. Most editors who work with indie authors do not do that. I wouldn’t dream of rewriting someone’s work or tinkering with an author’s voice. If an author is still developing his or her voice, I might make suggestions that a different sentence structure or breaking some habits could make the work stronger. But I’m not out to murder your creativity. The other argument I’ve heard comes from authors who have been burned by editors—either because the communication was poor or the editor didn’t provide what the author needed. Or both.

What is the difference between proofreading and editing? Proofreading used to mean just that – reading the proofed galleys for typos and formatting errors before a book went to press. As it stands today, it’s the last step before publishing – generally a good looking-through to find errors in spelling, punctuation, spacing, homophone choices, and other irritants that might not have been caught in earlier editing. That’s the fine-tuning. Editing can come in a number of levels: developmental editing looks at the big picture, the story arc, and the character development. Depending on who is defining it, line editing or copyediting really gets into the trenches with a story and looks at sentence structure and flow, grammar, consistency, tenses, word choice, rhythm, repetition, and all those small, silly things that keep your work from reading smoothly.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love the first read-through of a manuscript, especially when I get a ripping good story from an experienced author. I don’t particularly like giving an author—especially a beginning author who has never been edited before—a marked-up manuscript so full of comments the Word file keeps crashing. I know it’s part of the process, but I empathize with how the author might feel seeing all those suggestions. Especially if it could involve cutting large sections or plot points going awry.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? I adore reading. It’s a daily habit. I like to read a little bit of everything, but I really love to dive into some thick, tasty prose: general fiction, literary fiction, historical…in fact, most genres, as long as they’re well written with good character development.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” If I’m reading for pleasure, I have to consciously switch off or else I’ll be bothering myself about semicolon usage and word choices.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Just as I’d tell a beginning writer, reading and understanding the craft of the English language is your base. Each genre has its own flavor; for instance, if you only read romance, you might not serve a mystery author as well as an editor who knows what a red herring is. Get some training. Buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style or subscribe online. If you’re just starting out, offer to do a few jobs for free to build up references and experience. Starting with proofreading jobs can give you a great foundation and experience—proofreaders often move into copyediting. If you’re freelancing, learn about the business side: good communication skills go a long way.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? It’s in an author’s best interest to do as much self-editing as possible before submitting a manuscript to a publisher. These days, agents and publishers expect a more polished submission. If you’re publishing independently, a good self-edit can save you time and money when and if you choose to hire a professional editor. Some authors can self-edit well enough to publish without an editor, although I would recommend one. There are a lot of tricks to help with the self-editing, but it’s tough to get perspective when you’ve read the same manuscript seventeen times.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. Okay, this is weird, but I collect nineteenth-century etiquette books. Sometimes I can find them in small antique or used bookstores. They’re not that expensive—the last one I found was seven bucks—and they’re amusing, from a cultural perspective. One of my favorite passages involves how to help a lady down from a horse.

Please add any links to your blog/website etc. Thank you for letting me visit. I’d love to hear from you.

Website: 
http://laurieboris.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.author

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LaurieBoris

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon/author/laurieboris

 

 

 

 

Editor Interview Number Eight – Scott Sandridge

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

A pleasure to be here, and thanks for having me.

Please introduce yourself. My name is Scott M. Sandridge. I’m both a writer and an editor, and sometimes a reviewer. I have close to thirty short stories published and over sixty reviews. I was a slush reader for Ray Gun Revival from 2006-2007 and then the managing editor of Fear and Tembling Magazine from 2007-2011. I currently edit freelance.

I also recently edited three anthologies for Seventh Star Press: the two-volume A Chimerical World anthologies (Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court) and Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions.

How did you get into this line of work? I kinda got sucked into it. After publishing a couple of my short stories, the Overlords at Ray Gun Revival asked me if I’d like to be a slush reader for them. And I’ve always had a hard time saying no to anything. Later, when Fear and Tembling Magazine was launched by Double-Edged Publishing, the same company RGR was under, I was asked to do some slush reading for F&T. A couple months after launch, the managing editor had to step down, so I took up the reins (which I originally had planned to be only temporary until a new editor was found).

I still consider F&T to be one of the major highlights of my editing career, due to me (at that time an untested managing editor) and a ragtag bunch of very talented slush readers and assistants (all of us volunteers) managed to take an online zine seemingly destined to die at infancy and transformed it into a zine so awesome that it ended up being part of a featured article in Rue Morgue.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I love anything involving Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. I’m also okay with the occasional Mystery or Thriller. I’ve never yet been asked to edit a Romance. *shrugs*

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? I self-edit because I’m one of the rare writers who actually can edit my own work. Although, when not pressed by deadlines, I’ll go through beta readers and such.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? If you can, do it. If you can’t, don’t. But if you do, make damn sure you can.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? Only once. I expect manuscripts to be in standard manuscript formatting. While I’m forgiving of minor variances, one time I had to say no simply because the whole entire manuscript was such a complete and utter mess that it would have taken me twice as long to format it before I could even start to edit.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? A few times. Most authors are very professional about it, even when they refuse. And yes, while it’s the author’s right to refuse an editor’s suggestions, there is a right way and a thousand wrong ways to go about doing so. Only twice have I encountered a writer who was a total jerk about it. I’ve never bothered to work with those two since.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? Whatever you’ve heard about us, we’re a million times more evil. MWAHAHAHAAAA!!!

Nah! Editors are people too, unlike corporations….

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. Similar to editing shorter works, but takes longer and is much more involved. The first thing I’ll do is read a few pages in order to get a good grasp of the author’s voice, so as to avoid ruining his/her voice in the later stages. Next I’ll go through and edit for content (what scenes work, what scenes don’t, which characters need more development or just plain suck and need removing), paying extra attention to the beginning and end. As I edit for content, I’ll note any typos etc. I come across. Once the content editing is done, I then concentrate on proofreading (remember the notes I took on typos? Helps the proofreading part go faster when you’ve already tackled half of them). After that, I’ll do a final skimming once-over before sending it back to the author.

When doing the work for a publisher, I’ll also format the manuscript so that it’ll be ready for publishing as soon as the author approves the proofs. Whether or not I insert page numbers, etc., depends entirely on how the publisher wants it done (and that often depends on the technology/software being used to publish the book).

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Proofreading is when your main concern is spelling and grammar. It often involves minor corrections and, rarely, a reworking of phrases or entire sentences. Editing is where you do full content editing, and is often a process you do with the author. After all, when you need whole paragraphs removed or the entire first chapter changed, it’s best to make those as suggestions to the author than to just do them yourself. A good writer will take your suggestions and come up with something even better than what you had originally suggested.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I always enjoy seeing the finished product. J

But the process itself often leaves me feeling like, “Blaaah! Why is this taking me so loooooong!??” But then, if I didn’t feel that way at some point during the process, I’d start to worry that I’m doing something wrong. Lol!

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? When not reading as an editor, I’m usually reading as a reviewer, so I rarely read just for pleasure anymore. And even then, it’s hard to shut down Editor Brain in order to do so. There’s even been days when I’ve forgotten what pleasure reading can even feel like.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” Sometimes I can switch off. Most of the time, though, I can’t. And all it takes to switch it back on is just one glaring typo….

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Develop a thick skin, ‘cause haters are gonna’ hate.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? You can’t go wrong with Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. Read it. Religiously.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I’m a Gemini, which means that everything I said above I am in support of and in complete disagreement with all at the same time. No I’m not! Yes I am!

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

 

A Work in Progress/SpecMusicMuse blog: http://smsand.wordpress.com

FB Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/smsandwrites

Twitter: @scottmsandridge

I’m at a few other places, but the above three are where I’m at most often.

Oh, and you can find me on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Scott-M.-Sandridge/e/B00JPSIV3Q/

 

 

Editor Interview Number Five – Marcy Sheiner

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. How did you get into this line of work? (I ‘m answering these two questions together). My name is Marcy Sheiner. I’ve always felt very comfortable editing my friends’ writing, since as far back as high school. In writing groups when we traded work I didn’t just read people’s work and give them feedback; I couldn’t help fixing the grammar and spelling, sometimes even rewriting sentences or phrases.

My first actual editing job was at the Woodstock Times, a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. I started out contributing articles occasionally, and then became one of their typesetters. One day one of their staff writers told the publisher I was being wasted in the typesetting room—and he promoted me to the position of Associate Editor! The truth was, I was in no way ready for the job. I soon learned there was a lot more to editing than running my pen through misspelled or misused words; I had to communicate with a whole stable of writers, staff and freelance, and deal with their egos. They were frequently incensed when I messed with their prose, and demanded reasons for every change. I’m not saying they were wrong; I just didn’t know how to handle them. Besides that, I had to cover the stories that nobody else wanted, like the progress of the town’s never-ending sewer project, or presentation of the town’s brand new ambulance. And let’s not even talk about the power struggles that go on in a newspaper office.

In addition to all that, Woodstock was a small town with a population of 7000, where everyone knew everyone else. The community felt a sense of ownership of the paper; this meant I couldn’t go to the supermarket or laundromat without being stopped to hear their complaints about something that had been in the paper that week, or demands that I cover some vitally important story. People called me at home at all hours on newspaper business. I had that job for two years, and I confess I was freaked out the whole time. But I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything: almost everything I know about editing I learned in that office.

A few years later I moved to SF and soon got a job as assistant to Susie Bright, Editor of On Our Backs. OOB’s tagline was, if I remember correctly, “a lesbian magazine of health and sexuality.” My duties as her assistant were mundane. Eventually I became Fiction Editor, and when Susie left I inherited the Editorial position. At first glance OOB might seem the polar opposite of the Woodstock Times, but in fact the work and the issues around it were much the same. As at the newspaper, there was more to editing the magazine than juggling words. I supervised a four-woman staff, wrote photo captions, titles, and pull-quotes. Just as Woodstockers felt the newspaper was theirs, so did the lesbian community feel a sense of ownership of OOB: when I walked down Castro Street I’d inevitably run into someone with a complaint or urgent request.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? It hasn’t happened yet, but I’d refuse to edit a book on evangelism or any other religious subject. Nor would I work on a book expressing politics with which I strongly disagree, such as an anti-abortion or creationism book. To edit 200 or 300 pages of words persuading readers that abortion is a sin would go against what I believe, and I’d end up arguing with the writer, who would after all be paying me. Luckily I’ve never run into this situation.

I also wouldn’t edit a book with specialized lingo, such as complex medical terms or technological data, simply because I don’t know enough to do a good job on it.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Yes, I’m a writer; I’ve published five books and used to write a lot of journalism. I’ve had to edit myself much of the time (not of course with journalism) since I can’t afford to hire someone—but I sometimes swap editing and feedback with a writer friend. My motto is, “Every writer deserves an editor,” so I wish I could hire someone to edit my books.

I’ve been surprised lately by a lot of anti-editor sentiments on the part of Goodreads writers. I try not to get too upset about it—after all, those who are the most anti-editor are usually inexperienced and don’t know what they’re talking about. The relationship of editor-writer is not inherently adversarial; in the best scenarios they’re allies. I love to be edited; I love it when someone with sharp skills gives my work their time and attention. I always learn something.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? I understand the issue of affordability. I even understand the fear of newbies who don’t want to make themselves vulnerable to editors. But I just can’t bear the quality of writing that’s on the Internet and in indie publishing. The typos, the dropped words, the misspellings, bad grammar, lousy punctuation…it drives me crazy. Even the New Yorker and the New York Times have mistakes these days. It’s just appalling.

I’ve been happily surprised to find  a lot of self-published books are much better than I expected—but none of them are without errors of the kind that could be corrected by any average editor. I loved a book by one writer‑who seems to be quite successful—who didn’t know the rules surrounding quotations and dialog. She’d write: “I like you,” he smiled. People do not smile in quotation marks! Quotations indicate speech, perhaps with a smile; they don’t indicate facial expressions! I don’t know why, but this stuff makes me nuts. I’ve been called a few funny and unprintable names for being such an obsessive editor. I call myself Slash-and-Burn, which I pulled from a hilarious book by Ed Sanders.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. That’s a lot longer than most of the manuscripts I generally edit (an average book is 60-75K words). In any case, first I read through the book fairly quickly, to get a sense of what kinds of problems I’ll encounter; the same errors are usually committed repeatedly. The first reading also gives me a chance to read the book without working on it—though I have to sit on my hands not to do so. But I don’t want to be reading it for the first time when editing, because I might get lost in the content. I’ll get too caught up in the forest and might miss noticing the trees.

The second time I read slowly, editing each sentence as I go. Occasionally I have to go back to review something that might’ve been complicated, but mostly I go straight through from start to finish. I do a third reading with my edits included to see how it flows with the changes. There might be further edits to do, and occasionally I might change the text back to what it was in the first place. That happens at least a few times in every project.

How lucrative is the work? Hah! As you can see I put a good deal of time and attention into editing a book; an average sized manuscript can take anywhere from 40 to 100 hours‑and I work relatively fast. I’m frequently offered payment in the range of $200-400 a project. If you do the math you’ll see how pathetic that is. Very few grown-up people would work for these amounts. And in fact I’ve lost out on many jobs from clients who say my fees are too high; they can always find someone on the Internet willing to work for less. And they can, and I know it, and they know I know it. Of course, you get what you pay for; but the way people are educated today (or not!) I don’t think they can even tell the difference in quality.

Someone recently decided they couldn’t afford to hire me to edit their non-fiction psychology book. I told him I’d charge him $2.50 a page, and when he balked I went down to $2. It was still too much for him. He must’ve expected the whole thing to cost less than $500‑which is what “employers” on most of the online job sites offer. I’ve been turned down repeatedly because my fees are “too high.” And yet, the Editors’ Freelance Association recommends charging twice as much as I do.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? (Line edit, content edit etc.) To be perfectly honest, we’re all making this up as we go along. I have seen so many different definitions of all the various forms of editing.

To me, line editing means primarily making corrections to misspellings, typos, and grammatical errors. Content editing means all that, plus rewriting sentences or phrases to improve or clarify the prose. Substantive or developmental editing includes all plus paying attention to plot, pacing, character development, believability, plot twists‑in other words, evaluating the full range of elements that contribute to a work of fiction. During the process I take voluminous notes to discuss later with the author. If she or he agrees with my comments, one of us makes the changes. Naturally, the more complex the editing the higher the price.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? Two parts of the process I most enjoy are (1) line editing in a quiet space, or performing the actual work. Editing is like solving a crossword puzzle, which I do for relaxation. My other joy is (2) if I find something in the narrative that tells me the author left something out, either intentionally or not, and when I ask her about it she has a sudden revelation. I’ve discovered something in the writing she didn’t articulate but meant to, something that moves the story to a deeper level. She’s thrilled and I’m proud, almost as if I’d just delivered a baby….well, maybe it doesn’t go quite that far. It’s more like I had a big part in creating the work.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? Of course! My favourite genre is the good old-fashioned realistic novel. I read contemporary fiction, but lately I’m reading a lot of classics, since books over 100 years old are free on Amazon for the Kindle. I’ve discovered a few writers I’d never read before and knew very little about, such as Edith Wharton. I’ve also been reading indie published ebooks, free or very cheap, and found some surprisingly good ones.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” Groan! Yes, unfortunately, I do edit while reading. It slows me down and can seriously dilute pleasure. Also, I have to say something here: There is a difference between books by professional writers that undergo the traditional editing process, versus indie authors who view editors as enemies: the latter always, and I mean always, make mistakes, usually the same mistake throughout the entire book. Someone who doesn’t know that it’s means it is, while its is a pronoun, and she uses the apostrophe with the pronoun, she doesn’t just do it once, but every time. And since she stays away from editors because she thinks their goal is to destroy her prose, she never will learn the difference. Meanwhile I’m gnashing my teeth and inwardly cringing as I read.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Recently someone on Goodreads asked me that very question. I told her to first hire a good accountant who knows what freelancing is. I wish I had. She should have this person set up her books and show her how to keep them, and do her taxes for her, quarterly if she can manage it. (Otherwise the IRS charges interest). Freelancers get screwed by the tax system. And “normal” people really don’t understand freelancing, especially those of us who work with words. I am not exaggerating. I hope that newbie takes my advice; as I once got in a fortune cookie, if I can’t be a shining example at least I can serve as a warning.

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

Not a good idea. As I said, every writer deserves an editor. If it’s absolutely impossible financially, and I know about that, believe me, then at least ask a reasonably intelligent person to be another set of eyes and attempt to catch glaring mistakes. Do not rely on computer spell checkers or grammar advice. Read it through yourself a few times. If you’re lucky you’ll submit it with very few typo’s.

2012-2ndBest

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

DIRTY LAUNDRY (general writing blog)

http://marcys.wordpress.com/

BOOKBUSTER (Business website):

http://www.marcysbookbuster.wordpress.com/

Client Testimonials :

http://marcysbookbuster.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/testimonials/#!

Publications List:

http://marcys.wordpress.com/2007/03/31/marcys-publications/

Goodreads Author Page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/85541.Marcy_Sheiner

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! 😉

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

www.Final-Edits.com

https://twitter.com/FinalEdits

https://www.facebook.com/FinalEdits

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Editor Interview Number Three – Jessie Hale

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today. Thanks very much for having me!

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your editing experience. My name is Jessie Hale and I’ve been editing, in some capacity, for about four years. I currently freelance and work as a project manager with a media publications company, where I edit and proofread a large variety of materials. I was also a non-fiction editor with The Editing Company in Toronto, Canada, until October 2013, and I copy edit and proofread a feminist magazine for young women and trans youth on a volunteer basis. I’ve worked on YA fantasy novels, academic textbooks, magazines, self-help books, website copy, memoirs, some erotic fiction, and many dissertations and theses.

How did you get into this line of work?  I completed a publishing certificate in 2010, which included courses in copy editing and substantive editing, and then began working in the marketing department of an academic publishing company. I took on some freelance editorial projects over the years, but began editing more seriously at the beginning of 2013, when I started working as a non-fiction editor with The Editing Company.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? I don’t edit anything in the STEM field, simply because I don’t have the knowledge base that would qualify me to do so. For the same reason, I don’t edit high-level legal writing. Other than that, I’m open to pretty much everything!

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, except for the occasional blog entry!

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? I think that every piece of writing, no matter how short or long, could use another set of eyes. I wrote The Editing Company’s newsletter, for example, and even though I’m a trained editor, I never sent it out without having at least one of my colleagues look it over. So, while I think that self-editing is a very important and necessary step, I would not advise an author to rely on it alone. When you’re that close to the material, it’s very easy to miss plot holes and typos and all kinds of other errors.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word manuscript. That’s a hard question to answer because it depends so much on what kind of edit you’re doing and what kind of manuscript it is. When I’m doing a substantive (or content) edit, I usually start by reading the manuscript once through, not trying to take notes or think too deeply about my reactions, just reading it as I would read any novel. Then I read it again more carefully, this time taking notes about the content and characters and so on. Then it becomes a back-and-forth process with the author, allowing him or her to take my feedback into consideration and revise. The manuscript will usually go back and forth at least twice, sometimes much more. The whole process takes at least three months, and sometimes a year or more.

With a copy edit, usually I start by looking over the style sheet (if there is one) and making note of what the author or publisher prefers. Then I start reading the manuscript very carefully, correcting any spelling and grammatical errors and occasionally reworking sentences to make them clearer. For a 100,000-word manuscript, that will usually take about 80 hours. I like to give the manuscript two passes, if there’s time, but of course there isn’t always.

What is the difference between proofreading and editing?  Proofreading means different things to different people, but generally it happens much later in the process than editing. When you’re proofreading, you’re looking for very small, last-minute mistakes; typos, dropped letters, that kind of thing. It’s often done after the book has already been laid out and typeset. Editing, again, can mean many different things, but it starts much earlier in the process and focuses on a much bigger picture — does the plot make sense? Do the characters behave naturally? Is the language clear and readable? Copy editing falls somewhere in between; you’re looking for bigger errors than in a proofread and applying a consistent style, and so on, and you also might be changing sentences to make them clearer and checking that facts are consistent (e.g., that a character with blonde hair in chapter 2 doesn’t have red hair in chapter 5!).

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t?Whenever I get to proofread on paper, that’s a big pleasure. Most editing is done onscreen nowadays but there’s something that feels very precise and elegant about working on paper. I don’t think there’s anything about editing that I actively dislike, but probably my least favourite task is editing a bibliography, especially when it’s big and complicated. It can be quite headache inducing.

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

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?”  I definitely notice mistakes more often now than I did before I started working as an editor. Mostly what I notice is decisions that other editors have made; I might think, “Oh, that’s interesting, I probably would have taken out that comma,” and that kind of thing. It’s interesting because when you work as an editor you become better able to “see” the editorial work that someone else has done.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? I think taking some kind of editorial course is really invaluable. Copy editing, especially, involves much more than most people realize, and it’s important to be familiar with the different types of editing and what they entail. The other piece of advice I would give is to read as widely as possible in as many different genres and styles as possible, so that you can familiarize yourself with different writing conventions. Also, every written document could use an editor. Offer to edit documents for your current company or look over your friends’ cover letters, or perhaps volunteer as an editor for a non-profit. The best way to learn editing is to edit, so you should get as much practice as you can.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self edit? Give yourself space from the material. Don’t edit the day after you’ve finished writing. Take some time off and return with a fresh perspective. Try not to edit as you write — better to get your words out on paper first and refine them later. Even if you don’t want to get your manuscript professionally edited, it might still be worthwhile to pay to have one or two chapters looked at by a professional. At the very least, you’ll be able to see what a trained editor would pick up on, and that might help you as you edit the rest of the text.

What are the necessary writing guides you would recommend? I’m not a writer, so I rely mainly on the Chicago Manual of Style and the dictionary! But there is a great book called The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner that is very informative and readable. It offers a great perspective on what editors and agents are looking for and provides insight into their thought processes, which will help writers learn how to pique their interest.

Please add website/blog etc. www.marginaliaeditorial.com

 

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.

http://www.villagegreenpressllc.com/

http://villagegreenpressllc.blogspot.com/.

Reviewer Interview Number Six – Helen Hollick

Welcome to… Helen Hollick

Please tell us a little about yourself. I am a UK author of Historical Fiction and Historical Adventure, published mainstream in the US and Indie here in the UK. In addition to my writing I am the UK Indie Review Editor for the Historical Novel Society

On average how many books do you read a month?  Not as many as I would like, unfortunately, as my own writing (and the marketing that must go with promoting my Indie published books) does not leave me much time for reading. I also have poor eyesight so I either rely on clear, not too small print or my trusty Kindle! I try for two or three books a month though.

What genres do you enjoy? Historical fiction or adventure, some fantasy, science fiction or the occasional romantic comedy-type.

In your position as Indie Review Editor for the Historical Novel Society what do you look for in a book you would recommend? My role as editor is receiving books that have been submitted, adding them to the database and initially assessing them for review by the splendid review team of readers that I have. Most Indie books ‘pass’ the scrutiny, but I’m afraid it’s an immediate rejection if the layout and presentation is incorrect – the HNS aims to promote good indie-published fiction and we hope to prove that Indie writers can be every bit as good as mainstream authors, but to do this we have to be strict about presentation quality (in addition to writing quality of course!) This means that anything with the text left justified (ragged edge on the right hand margin instead of straight margins each side) or double or 1.5 spaced will be rejected. As will something with a tiny print or in an unsuitable font, such as comic sans. To be accepted as equal to mainstream indie authors must ensure that their books emulate the mainstream standard!

I do also get the pick of the books to read (there’s always a perk to a voluntary job isn’t there!) I find it thrilling to read so many really good indie writers – baffling why some of them have not been picked up by mainstream!

Please tell us a little about the society. The HNS is a literary society devoted to promoting the enjoyment of historical fiction. The Society is  based in the USA and UK but welcomes members (who can be readers or writers) from all round the world. Through their print magazines, conferences, website, social media and the dynamism of their membership  the HNS helps to bring the excitement of these novels to the widest audience. The HNS website:

http://historicalnovelsociety.org/

How do you support authors and readers? By promoting their work as much as possible – when I personally come across a well written (and presented) book I am happy to promote it on my Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. Some authors I also welcome as guests on my blog.

Where do you tend to review? The HNS publishes indie reviews quarterly  on their website. http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/?type=indie

Are you influenced by other reviews when choosing a book? No, I tend to go by what my friends say about a book – although I do often read  indie books that have had good reviews by the HNS

What other factors influence your choice? I occasionally read books that have received unpleasant  one star reviews on Amazon. I honestly cannot see why, if someone hated a book, they waste time writing a “this book is dreadful” type review.  If you can’t say something good about a book, say nothing at all! Most times I find these reviewers are very wrong and I have thoroughly enjoyed the books they have dragged through the mud.

When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot?  Which factors do you overlook? (if any) I will overlook occasional typo errors – but not error after error. I also overlook commas and some punctuation formats – because I have discovered that the US and the UK have differing views about correct placement. Editing is extremely important – not just for grammar, punctuation and spelling, but for general technical construction – plot, characters, continuity… A good editor will pick up too much author’s voice or too many point of view changes (head hopping). Plot is important – but a well-written (and edited!) novel can be a wonderful read even if it has a poor plot.

What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive? Not a good idea for an author to protest about a poor review, although there are circumstances when this might be needed. (I have commented on Amazon about a poor review of an early edition of one of my books. I commented that this particular edition was no longer in print and had been re-published.) If you must reply, keep calm, keep polite and keep it short. Do not get into a rolling argument!

A lot of readers comment about a book with all 4 or  5 star reviews and nothing below as being suspicious? What do you think about this? That is such nonsense. A good book is a good book! Enough said.

Do you give negative reviews? No, although I do sometimes add a constructive comment (such as a book could benefit from another edit as it has several typos). If I HAVE to give a review, even though a book was not to my taste, I clearly state that I am having to review it (i.e. for the Amazon Vine project). I find something good to say, then add that it wasn’t quite my preferred type of book – which is my fault as a reader, not the author’s fault as a writer!

Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone? Yes to my genre, no to outside my zone – I just haven’t got time to read books I don’t want to read.

What are your opinions on paid reviews? (not including a copy of the book for review purposes only) I am not so keen. I’m not certain these are unbiased.

Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book? Apart from the layout and presentation of an Indie book being taken into consideration – no.

Feel free to add your blog/website etc.

Website: www.helenhollick.net

main Blog: http://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com/

Leaning on the Gate – Devon Diary: http://leaningonthegate.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelenHollickAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HelenHollick@HelenHollick