I try to be unbiased with all the authors I feature even if they are friends or acquaintances, but today’s feature is not an author, it’s an editor. And not just any editor, but MY editor.
Kathy is so much more than someone who corrects grammar and punctuation…she’s a sounding board, a cheerleader, a promoter, and a critic.
She has knowledge and insight into the character’s heads that sometimes rivals my own. Kathy’s ability extends to every manuscript she edits. She has an innate ability to ‘feel’ the books, and also, the integrity to tell it like it is.
I’ve always believed that people cross our path at the exact juncture we need them, but if I didn’t, Kathy would have made me a believer. Y’all enjoy this feature on the best editor out there!!
Tell us about yourself and your background with editing. May include links to Facebook, website, twitter.
Anyone who reads my Facebook posts knows I’m an editor. But my primary role is wife (47 years to the same man … my best friend), mother of two grown children, and grandmother to one. My husband and I retired six years ago, and both of us found that staying busy is what we enjoy. A few years ago, I started a full-time editing business, working from home, and he spends most of his days making beautiful knick-knacks and furniture in his woodshop.
What services do you offer?
I do a combination of copy editing, line editing, and proofreading for fiction (short stories, novellas, novels, and the blurbs and excerpts associated with them).
Tell us the difference between a developmental editor and a copy editor.
A developmental editor usually works with an author prior to completion, or at the very beginning stages of writing the manuscript, to help develop characters and plots. This type of editor is likely to suggest character name changes and major changes in story flow or plots prior to the story going to a copy editor. I don’t do any developmental work.
Copy editor is what most people mean when they use the generic term, “editor.” It’s my primary function to catch the errors in basic grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. That includes fact checking, fixing repetition of descriptive words, pronouns, proper tenses and matching verbs and nouns, noting any inconsistencies in characters or plots and alerting the author to them. I read each manuscript at least twice … once for the edit and a second time after the author has dealt with those suggestions, for a proofread or subsequent edit. Style sheets are kept for each manuscript, particularly when a series is involved.
What’s the normal turnaround time for an edit?
Of course, the time it takes for each manuscript varies, even ones with the same word count, but most manuscripts between 50,000 and 150,000 words take 10-14 days for the first edit, and another week or so for the subsequent one.
Can you give us an idea of how you determine the cost?
Every new author I work with provides me a sample of the manuscript to be edited. I supply a 5-10 page free sample edit so the author can see my editing style, and I use that to gauge the complexity of the edit required. From that information, I provide a price quote and turnaround time. My prices are based on word count, and a formula I use to calculate the approximate number of hours needed for completing the project.
What is your editing process?
I read the manuscript as I would any book, for enjoyment. Because of my training and 25 years working in the printing/publishing industry, my “editing brain” works whether I want it to or not. I can’t turn off the need to correct errors in grammar and sentence structure. Sometimes I can read many chapters in a day, in other cases, I’m lucky to read 30 pages during an 8-hour period because of the need to read and re-read each sentence to make sure it fits. Every time a word or punctuation mark is changed, it has the potential to alter others, so once a change is made, it prompts another read-through of that sentence or surrounding paragraphs.
A typical editing day is 10-12 hours with breaks for meals and normal life interruptions (a quick trip to the grocery store or tossing a load of laundry in the washing machine). Eight hours of actual editing a day is normal. The only time I take full days off is generally when I need to clear my editing brain between manuscripts, so 6-7 days a week, I’m right here … doing what I love.
Do you listen to music when you edit? If so, what kind?
I have a writing playlist that’s a mix of soft music, mostly instrumental, that I occasionally play at a low volume in the background. Most of the time, when I’m into a serious edit, I prefer complete quiet so I can concentrate on each word. Also, when I do the second reading, I generally read out loud. Music or TV sounds would disrupt my process. I never edit where a TV or radio, even from another room, can be heard.
What kind of books do you read for fun?
My usual schedule doesn’t allow for much pleasure reading. When I do read, I love my Kindle and the same genres I edit. My favorites (no particular order) are drama (crime drama, including mystery and suspense – I love detective stories), paranormal (yep, witches, vampires, werewolves, dragons, and faeries), light romance (if there’s a good plot involved or great humor – nothing too serious), fantasy (even some YA fantasy). I’m not a big fan of any reading that’s written strictly for shock factor. Erotica isn’t my favorite, but I’ve read and edited a few excellent stories – My age is considered “senior,” but it’s not the same thing as dead. SciFi as a genre isn’t my favorite, but I enjoy well-written books and manuscripts that are in that category.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Seeing the realization from authors when the light turns on and they know their writing has improved after working through a few edits with me. My primary reason for doing this is to educate writers to become better at their craft.
In your opinion, why do writers need editors?
It’s not an option for any serious writer or author. The best writing begins in the creative side of the brain. Excellent writers aren’t expected to be super creative AND know all the mundane rules of English grammar. There’s a fine line between writing brilliant copy and putting correct words on the page. A trained or experienced editor uses the other side his/her brain and instinctively spots words and phrases the author misses. Besides, after an author reads and re-reads his/her own manuscript dozens of times, words that aren’t there appear to be in the writer’s mind.
Walk us through the editing process from your standpoint.
I sample edit and provide the author with a price quote and when I’m actually ready to begin work, a 50% deposit is due. When the first edit is complete, the balance of payment is due, and I send the manuscript to the author for input (to accept or reject suggestions, and any rewriting or additional copy the author thinks is necessary based on my ideas). The author is under no time restrictions at this point and when it’s ready, the manuscript is returned to me for proofreading (or second reading). At this point, the manuscript takes priority in my schedule and I go through it again, checking for additional errors and looking at each item or comment left in red by the author. When I’m satisfied that the text is good, I send it back to the author for publishing.
What about the author’s standpoint? What can we expect with your edits?
I take editing seriously. Starting in 1972, I was trained by craftsmen, experts in their field, to do this work. Due to scarcity of job availability in a new location after a move for my husband’s work, I changed occupations in 1997 and didn’t return to editing until several years ago when a friend asked me to help with his manuscript. I spent about a year taking classes, attending online seminars, reading, and brushing up on my skills. Indie Editing by Kathy was founded in 2013.
My edits and critique of the stories are honest and sincere. When I notice a line that’s especially touching or heartwarming, I offer proper praise in the margin comments. By the same token, when errors are repeated, or I spot something that detracts from the manuscript (or when a character does or says something that doesn’t fit, I note it). I offer praise where merited … but don’t sugar coat the criticism. My edits are never aimed personally at the author and most comments are teaching in nature.
Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while editing?
I’m a morning person (sometimes starting work as early as 5 a.m.), so I begin my editing day with 2 cups of coffee. Last year I bought a Keurig machine and the second cup is usually a flavored one … pumpkin spice is my favorite. Since my husband isn’t a morning person, I usually eat breakfast in front of the computer monitor too. Other than that, I generally don’t snack much other than an apple or a handful of nuts in the late afternoon.
Tell us about your other passions.
After writing and editing, photography is my next love … particularly landscapes. Music, a wide variety, has always been present in my daily life. My iPod contains over 2,500 songs (in 22 genres), 6 movies (all Twilight saga), and almost a hundred audio books. Oh, and I’m a really good cook.
What’s something interesting about you?
I rarely watch TV, maybe a few hours a week. When I’m not editing, I prefer to read or listen to music (or audiobooks). My husband laughs at me while I dance around the house, sock-footed, headphones on, doing normal housework or cooking. I love travel, and particularly cruising. It’s been a big part of my life. My husband and I have taken more than 30 cruises all over the world. I’ve been to all 50 states (a few only at airports, but still … it counts, right?) and lived in 14 states (some on multiple occasions) and our family wasn’t military. If we manage to sell our house this year, a 15th state will be involved.
Do you accept all clients?
Sadly, no. Although I welcome new clients, not all manuscripts are ready for a copy edit. Some stories need the services of a developmental editor or writing group. Others should have independent critiques or beta reading and basic proofreading done prior to the author paying an editor. I make suggestions and referrals accordingly.
Most of my work comes from repeat business or referrals, but I turn away probably 3 out of every 10 new requests. I always let those writers know that I’d be happy to work with them in the future, but I explain the reasons their manuscript isn’t ready for my particular service. If they follow my advice, they could end up saving a lot of time, frustration, and money.
Is there a genre you prefer to edit?
The same ones I listed on my personal reading preference, but if I had to pinpoint a few … drama (including detective stories, mystery, suspense, and crime-drama) – paranormal – light romance … and it might sound contrary, but I love editing children’s books. I currently have several clients who write books for children aged 9-12 and those books are entertaining and fun to edit.
Do you have any tips for that writer who’s just starting out?
Yes, the more eyes on your manuscript, the better. Take each opinion for what it’s worth. ARC copy readers and betas are great sources of free input, but their knowledge of actual editing is likely limited. Join a local or online writing group or critique group. Write from your heart (and what’s in your head), instead of what’s popular and selling at the moment. Trends change and most readers know if your writing is forced.
Anything you’d like to say to your current and future clients?
Be true to yourself, your characters, and your plots. Find a good editor and stick with him/her. That person should be your literary confidante and collaborator … someone you can bounce ideas off without fear of the mocking and eye-rolling that you might get from friends or relatives. Write … and write … and write … and read as much as possible too. Learn from mistakes you see in your own and other writers’ work (even the traditionally-published professionals). Develop your own style and polish it. “You keep writing … I’ll keep editing.”