Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Inside the Editor's Den: Strengths & Weaknesses

*Breaking News*


No one is perfect.

And that includes editors.

So, in part seven of our September series Inside the Editor’s Den, we had to ask BRP editors the following question:



What are your strengths and weaknesses as an editor?









Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - I have a strong sense of story, character development, and dialogue, which makes me a better fiction editor than a nonfiction editor. Because I rely on The Chicago Manual of Style as my guide, I am not well qualified to edit works that have been written using a different style.



Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I think my biggest strength is that I truly care about the author. I want to know her purpose for writing the project, what she wants readers to get from the project, her concerns about the project, and then as editor (thinking like a reader), I work to help the author develop a story that delivers everything she needs. I also love grammar and all things spelling and punctuation and words, and that helps as an editor. A weakness of mine is that I don't edit as quickly as I could--or should. I really want the client to have my best, so sometimes, that means a client cannot get a quick turnaround.



Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - My strengths are my innate sense of story, as well as my ability to cut the fluff, so to speak. So many writers overwrite by tacking on an unneeded phrase, and I have become quite good at spotting those. I also have a good sense of the rhythm of a story and can tell when that has gone off track. My weakness right now is that it takes me longer than it used to to get through a manuscript.




Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I have a high catch rate of errors and typos on the first read – which is why I correct them when I see them, despite the possibility that corrected paragraphs may be cut. The more familiar I become with a piece of text, the easier it is for errors to slip past, so I prefer not to offer my services as a final proofreader if I’ve done any editing work on the manuscript. I’m a perfectionist, so I sometimes sit on a chapter for a while until I can put my finger on what it is that triggered my spidy-sense, and I also read and re-read the chapter a number of times before I’m happy to sign off on it. I also require final sight of each chapter after the author has accepted or rejected the edits, because it’s easy for spacing and punctuation to disappear or double up at this point. So, I’m not the quickest editor on the block.



A Writer’s Takeaway


Remember the breaking news at the top of this post: no one is perfect?

It is important for you to realize that when looking for an editor. Because no one is perfect, it is important for you to ask a potential editor what she thinks her strengths and weaknesses are. After doing that, you can decide if her strengths fit your needs. For example, if you need an APA research article edited, you probably wouldn't pick an editor who solely focused on Chicago Manual of Style. If an editor is strong in story development (and all that that entails), but her ability to spot the most unheard of grammar error is weak, you might use her to perform a content edit, but not for copy editing or proofreading.

As always, the initial goal is to know what you need and what concerns you have with your literary baby, and then find an editor whose strengths will help you elevate your writing.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Inside the Editor's Den: Coming to the Page

Today in part six of our September series Inside the Editor’s Den, we ask our BRP editors the following question:







How do you edit?








⟽⟾


Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I use the Track Changes and Comments features of Word.











Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - I prefer to work in MS Word on the computer. On occasion, I have also done final edits/proofs in Adobe Acrobat.








Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I use both the tracking and comments features in Microsoft Word to edit. And you know, although we often tell writers not to let the Spellcheck of Word be your guide to strong writing, if you go into File>Options>Proofing>Settings, there are many writing issues you can have Word check for, such as passive voice, wordiness, clich├ęs, and vague adjectives.



Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - Word Tracking is my friend. I have used it on both sides of the editing fence and it makes the process so much easier than having to print out hundreds of manuscript pages and go through them one by one with the proverbial Blood-Red Pencil. I was first introduced to Word Tracking when my books were being edited prior to publication by Five Star Cengage, and the editor that I worked with there was a gem. She taught me all I needed to know about this great technical tool.




A Writer’s Takeaway


In the digital age, we can't be too surprised to see that our editors are editing using computer software and email. I can count on one hand the number of clients in the last few years who have requested I edit on a hard copy with a true blood-red pencil. Electronic editing is great for the editor--one computer with a bevy of books to edit over several hundred pages to lug around. Electronic editing is great for the writer, too. Think about how much time is cut from you having to input changes from a hard copy to your document--and the errors sure to arise because of the manual changes.

Knowing that editors are doing most, if not all, of their editing electronically, you might suggest that they return your edited manuscript in two documents. The first document would be your edited manuscript with all track changes and comments active, leaving you with having to go through each change and accepting and/or deleting them. The second document would be your edited manuscript with all track changes accepted and only comments active. The latter leaves you with a clean view of your manuscript and the comments for you to consider in rewrites and edits.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Inside the Editor's Den: Services Offered

Welcome to part five of our September series Inside the Editor’s Den. In the first two weeks, we talked to our BRP editors about their reasons for becoming editors, their training and expertise, their favorite genres to edit, and their editorial style(s). This series provides a wealth of information for writers who are looking for an editor for their literary baby.



Today's question asked to our editors is...

What services do you offer to your clients?






Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - My editing services include content and copy-editing novels and nonfiction books, as well as screenplay evaluation and editing. On special request, I have helped clients with query letters and articles.





Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I usually work closely with clients chapter by chapter, providing a thorough copyedit along with developmental advice. Sometimes that results in the author rethinking elements down the line and we work with whatever changes might be needed. Occasionally I have ghostwritten small pieces, or provided detailed examples of how a scene might be constructed.

Where there are budgetary constraints, I can instead offer a light edit of the manuscript. This involves only correcting mistakes, rather than seeking to improve the text, but does include a developmental critique of the plot and characterisation.



Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - Developmental editing, content editing, copy editing, and proofreading.










Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I offer proofreading, copy editing, and content editing services as well as coaching.









A Writer’s Takeaway


So, you have finished writing your book -- great! After you've written the book, it's a great idea to put it aside for a bit, then come back to it for some rewrites and edits. There are great articles here on BRP on aspects of writing, such as dialogue, character (and character development), scene development, point of view (and POV), and setting to help you in doing some self-editing before you go looking for an editor.

Now, when you do go in search for an editor, you should know what you need from the editor. Are you looking for a developmental editor, a copy editor, a content editor, a proofreader? If you haven't written a book yet, but you want to, then you might be looking for a writing mentor or coach first. Not all editors do all types of editing, so knowing what you need will help you find an editor that fits those needs.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Inside the Editor's Den: Editorial Style

Editors play a balancing act between editorial style and an author's writing style. We want our clients to keep their voice, their story's voice throughout a work, and we have to make sure that we do that while also keeping the author's words consistent. We use many style books and guides, such as The Chicago Manual of Style to help in this endeavor. Editorial style can also be about how an editor balances the relationships between editor-words-author. Knowing how an editor handles those relationships is important for writers who seek editors.


In part four of our September series Inside the Editor’s Den, we ask BRP editors the following question:

How would you define your editorial style?




Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - As a person who has always believed she was born to teach, I often treat editing as a space to provide teachable moments. Yes, I want to provide the client with a clean, well-developed story, but I also want to provide them with information that they can take with them into their next story. My most favorite thing as an editor is having a client return with their second book, and that book is better than the first because they learned and applied comments from book one.



Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - Where is the Style Maven? (smile) Above all, I try to be kind to the authors who come to me for editing, especially those just starting out. I remember those anxious beginnings and how afraid I was to have my work edited. I make a point to acknowledge what is good in the work, while still being honest about what could be improved. I offer suggestions for that improvement, then leave it to the author to take the suggestions or not. That is for content and developmental editing. Copy editing is pretty cut and dried. A typo is a typo.



Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - Extremely tactful. I think humility is an editor’s best trait, always remembering that we are not the author of the work. Writing is hard work, and should be respected. I pride myself in working with what is already there, rather than insisting the book be different. I constantly dig out what it is the author really wants to achieve with the work, and find a way to make the finished product reflect that intention.



Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - My style is largely reader oriented. Will the story appeal to readers? Do the characters step up from the pages and invite the reader into their lives?







A Writer’s Takeaway


Let's face it. Just about every writer sees their story as their baby. We wouldn't hand our child off to just any person. We would want to see their credentials, see how they interact with the child, with us. These same things apply to writers when they take on the task of looking for an editor.

Yes, it is important that your editor has knowledge of grammar and spelling and punctuation, has an understanding of storytelling and development. It's also important for your editor to adhere to some style guide. These are all parts of having an editorial style. However, if that editor is also crass, smug, and ignorant to their clients' needs, then that editor probably won't have clients for very long. How an editor handles the relationships between her, the author, and the author's work is just as important and is also a part of what editorial style is.

When looking for an editor, don't hesitate to ask them about their editorial style and then consider whether that style will work with who you are as a writer... and with your literary baby.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Inside the Editor's Den: Fave Works to Edit

In part three of our September series Inside the Editor’s Den, we ask our BRP editors the following questions:

What types of work do you typically edit? Is there a favorite type or genre?





Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - I prefer fiction, although I have edited some non-fiction and educational pieces.










Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I have edited so many types of writing over the years. From erotica, romance, and mysteries to fantasy, sci-fi, and literary. It helps that I actually like to read these genres, too, so that I have an idea about how these types of stories are typically developed. I also edit academic works (research articles, theses, dissertations, etc.) and non-fiction. I have to say that these days I love editing non-fiction, especially faith-based self-help works. Every book of this type that I’ve edited has taught me something valuable.



Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - As a freelance editor, I prefer to work with mysteries, women’s novels, young adult, and romance. I am not fond of science fiction or fantasy or erotica, so I don’t consider myself qualified to edit in those genres. Although I did edit a science fiction book recently for a friend of mine. We are in a critique group together, and he appreciates my editing expertise. That was an interesting experiment for both of us. I learned a little more about sci-fi, and he learned a little more about making the story stronger.



Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I have a good deal of practice in editing Fantasy, and that is my favourite genre. I will take on other genres, except for Horror, Romance, or anything religious or spiritual.








A Writer’s Takeaway


What you probably noticed in reading our editors' responses is that there are a variety of genres in need of editing, and not every editor will edit the same genres (or all genres). This is very important for the writer to know. Each of our BRP editors knows the conventions of grammar and spelling and mechanics and formatting. They also know about story development. But some of us explicitly tell you that we don't do particular genres. If you have a romance novel you need editing, you would want to have an editor who has experience editing romances because there are elements to romance novels that aren't present in other genres. Same for if you're writing sci-fi or fantasy or any other genre. If you ask an editor about the types of writing she edits, and she replies, "I do any and all types," be worried. Especially if she doesn't voraciously read all those types and if she doesn't have references of clients who can speak to her editing abilities in those types of genres.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Inside the Editor's Den: Training & Expertise

Today in part two of our September series Inside the Editor’s Den, we ask our wonderful BRP editors about their training and expertise with the following question:

WHAT TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD FOR YOUR WORK AS AN EDITOR?




Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I started off in very poorly-paid intern positions first at a magazine and then a small-press in London. Training involved being shown how to work the coffee machine, learning the tea/coffee/sugar/milk preferences of the junior editors, and getting a cuppa to each of them before they yelled for one. This is a skill that has stood me in great... hmm, never mind.

I worked my way up to one of the coveted slush pile jobs, but I quit after a few weeks for two reasons: I wasn’t ruthless enough (I was sending far too many manuscripts upstairs), and I spent a night almost-homeless (a kind receptionist at a back-packing hostel let me bunk under the front desk for the night shift) because the “pay” was too low for me to survive. Most of the other interns there were bar-keeping at nights to make ends meet. I packed it in for the first paying job I was offered : a full-time secretarial position at a hospital (where I only had one person to make coffee for). Unfortunately, my silly insistence on eating and living somewhere meant that my “career” veered off into the medical industry. Publishing didn’t want me back.

Since then, I have critiqued, edited, or proofread over a million words, freelance. I constantly read and analyse fiction, and read and analyse books and articles on writing craft. I write my own books, hire editors, and listen to and learn from them. And sometimes I argue with them ;-)



Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - I was an English major, which doesn’t quite qualify me as an editor. [As noted in part 1 of Inside the Editor's Den], however, I worked extensively in the Language Arts Department of a Washington school district, which did wonders to hone my own skills. Also, I have been an avid reader since childhood. Other than that, I instinctively know what works and doesn’t work in a story, and I have my trusty all-things-pertaining-to-writing-and-grammar guide—The Chicago Manual of Style.




Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I don’t have a degree in editing, but I do have degrees in mass communication, English, and creative writing. I’m fairly sure that my MFA in creative writing (fiction) is what gave me the wonderful tools to grow as an editor. Studying all forms of fiction, attending and participating in fiction workshops where I had my stories critiqued and had to critique others’ stories, and learning the form and theory of both fiction and poetry provided me the language to explain what worked well and didn’t work well in others’ works. Aside from education, I’ve been teaching since 2001, and I know that teaching years of English Composition, Advanced Grammar, and mass comm courses like Writing for the Media, Emerging Media Practices, and New Media Management have enabled me to learn, practice, and teach many aspects of writing.



Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - My initial training as an editor came from the owner and publisher of a slick, quarterly magazine where I worked for a number of years. He had been in the printing business for a long time and taught me how to copy edit by placing a blank white sheet of paper over the article and reading each line backwards. After I did copy editing for a couple of years, I was promoted to acquisitions editor and worked with area freelance writers to assign story ideas and oversee the completion of each feature and news story. This was all before computers and the internet, so everything was done on typewriters and copiers.




A Writer’s Takeaway

When searching for an editor, education is important, but experience is worth its weight in gold. Having a degree shows a person was able to retain enough information to jump the hoops of academia. Experience shows that a person is able to take knowledge and apply it to others' work and help to make it a practice for writers to use that knowledge in future works.

Janet Jackson once sang, "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" Same question can be used here when looking for an editor. What has the editor done with the knowledge they have?

Listen to prospective editors' responses to this question and decide how their experience blends with your needs in an editor.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Inside the Editor’s Den: The Beginning

Welcome to the first post in our Inside the Editor’s Den series. This month, we talk to four of BRP’s bloggers – Elle Carter Neal, Maryann Miller, Linda Lane, and Shonell Bacon – on their work as editors.


Since 2008, The Blood-Red Pencil’s goal has been, as stated by founder Dani Greer, “to help writers by blogging about what we know best – editing.”

In this series, we hope to provide information to writers that might be useful when they seek an editor for their writing projects. Learning how to write well is very important for a writer. Learning what to ask your potential editor is just as important.

Shout out to Wise Ink’s article “15 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Editor Before Hiring Them.” The idea for this series came from the great questions posed in this article.

Now, let’s step inside the editor’s den.

Today's question asked to our editors is...

WHY, HOW DID YOU COME TO EDITING?


Not surprisingly, writing plays a huge role in how these four editors came to editing. This makes sense. After all, editors must at least like words and the projects that are developed from them.


Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - My first editing job was for a regional slick quarterly magazine, Plano Magazine. I had been writing for newspapers and the owner of Plano Magazine contacted me to see if I would write for him, and eventually bumped me up from contributing writer to editor. I worked for him for four years. This was before computers and the Internet, so the working process was much different. I actually had to put on business clothes and go to an office. You do not want to see me in my home office now.




Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I came to editing twice. First by intent: I had completed a diploma in Creative Writing, and decided to further that with an advanced diploma in Proofreading and Copy Editing. I shelved it as a career option, though, in favour of writing my own books, as I couldn’t easily switch between editing and writing mode.

Later I joined an online critique group and rediscovered the enjoyment of helping other writers with their stories. When our group disbanded, the other members encouraged me to continue to offer critiques professionally. I thought this would help me avoid getting locked into “Editor’s Brain” again, but when some of my clients begged for more direct editorial intervention I couldn’t let them down.




Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - My journey to an editing career took a somewhat less than traditional route. Back in the 80s, I worked 5 years in the Language Arts Department of a school district near Seattle. During that time, I read thousands of student papers, grades 4-12, and (with the teacher’s approval) often commented on content development and other story elements.

After moving to the Colorado mountains in 1990, I stopped at a small, family-owned print shop to see if they had any part-time work available. As a result, I became a reporter for and the editor of their little local journal. I also created, edited, and published my own regional journal for seniors, The Seasoned Citizen’s Gazette. We moved to Grand Junction, Colorado, in the late 90s, and I opened a little publishing company and published my first novel.

Shortly thereafter, a writer called me and asked me to please consider publishing his book, which he had been unable to place with an agent or publisher for the previous 10 years. The story, compelling as it was, needed significant editing. And so it began. Since that time I have edited quite a few books, both ones I’ve published and those published by other companies.



Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I began editing back in the late 1990s. At the time, I just knew I loved to write and loved to read and read voraciously. By this time, I had a BA in communication arts and was about to start an MA in mass communication. I would do edits for free for friends who asked, and one day, a friend of mine who happened to be an author for Genesis Press told me the publisher was looking for an editor. I edited several works for them, and then with some of their authors who had moved on to other publishing houses. Within a few years, clients were sending me new clients.




A Writer’s Takeaway


When searching for an editor, it is important to get to know them because after all, they will be handling your literary baby. Knowing how an editor came into the profession may be an important question to ask. If you do ask it, and the editor doesn’t talk about experiences in both writing and editing, you might want to move forward and talk to another editor. An editor’s life is words, being able to help use them to communicate effectively and being able to help others develop better stories with them.

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