Editors, what would we do without them? Me, I would cry. There is no chance that my novel would read as it does today, had it not been for the help of an editor.
Meet Cary, the friendly editor. I have the pleasure of calling her MY Editor. Her answers to my interview questions below, give you all the proof that you need to come to the same conclusion I did: She Rocks!
I added the link to her site below the interview, should you wish to check her out and you'd be smart to do so.
1. Cary, I know you to be an incredibly skilled editor. Writers are lucky to have friendly and helpful editors, such as yourself, available. Tell us about your career path. What led you to editing?
Thank you, Ines, you’re so sweet!
I started out blogging years ago—back when I thought I wanted to be a writer myself. And for quite a while, I was in denial that writing wasn’t fulfilling me at all.
Luckily, I came across a series of fortunate events (haha!) and they led me to an internship with a fantastic book editing firm on the East Coast. The firm’s founder became my mentor, and I quickly realized that I ADORED editing. My love for it has only grown year after year.
2. Have you considered writing a book on editing tips?
Ahh! I’ve been asked that numerous times, and I’m always flattered.
I think eventually I’ll write a book about editing, but right now I love working with writers one-on-one, so that’s my focus.
3. What genres have you edited? Do you have any personal preference?
One of my favorite things about being an editor is that it expands my horizons. I’m open to editing any manuscript that calls to me, but in general, I don’t edit gory stuff (although I love psychological suspense) and I don’t edit heavy romance/erotica (I’d just be blushing the whole time!)
Everything else, though, is fair game.
4. As an editor, you have to read a lot. Do you find that it affects your enjoyment of leisure reading?
Can I say that again?
NO NO NO! (Okay, calm down, Cary.)
But seriously, being an editor has only made me love reading even more. (And every editor and literary agent I’ve met has felt the same way. We love our work.)
5. Talk to us about freelancing. What are the pros and cons of choosing to work freelance? How did you get into freelancing?
I got into freelancing by default, i.e., I don’t live in New York. If you want to be a literary agent or in-house editor, New York is usually where you have to start.
What I love most about freelancing is that I get to pick my own projects. If I don’t feel I’m the best fit for an author or a manuscript, I can say no. And vice versa: If I truly love a project, I can go after it—I’m not beholden to anyone.
What I like least about freelancing is . . . marketing.
I want a writer to approach me because she’s decided for herself that we’d be an awesome team. Not because I lambasted her with “marketing.”
On the other hand, she might not know about my services if I don’t put myself out there . . .
It’s a conundrum, and I’m always trying to find a balance.
6. Aspiring authors often struggle with time management when it comes to their writing goals. As an editor who often works with deadlines, what tips can you provide us to stay on track?
What a good question, Ines!
My best tip is: FIND A BUDDY.
One of my favorite quotes is by Jay Abraham: “No one ever succeeds without the help of others.”
And that’s one of the benefits of working with an editor. We’re like your running buddy. We keep you on track even when you’re tired.
(I think that’s also why many of my author-clients end up my friends. I mean, when you’re going on a journey as big and as important as creating a book, it’s kind of hard not to become friends.)
7. Tell us about editing.
a. What types of editing services do you provide?
b. If on a tight budget, which editing service would you prescribe as a necessary measure for writers to consider?
c. Can you give us a few self-editing tips or tell us what writers should look out for prior to submitting their projects?
You leave no stone unturned, Ines—I love it!
Okay, first, let’s start with the easy one: What types of editing do I do?
I cover the entire spectrum except for proofreading (which technically isn’t editing; it’s actually “proofing” the final manuscript before publication, and it mostly deals with formatting, although a proofreader might find a few editing errors and correct them).
That leaves the three main levels of editing, all of which I do:
Developmental/Content Editing—WHAT you’re saying. It handles big-picture stuff like character development, story arc, setting creation, etc.
Line Editing—HOW you’re saying what you’re saying. It handles the line-by-line, like style, voice, word choice, repetition, flow, etc.
Copyediting—Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. It deals with punctuation, spelling, grammar, and syntax. It also ensures that your book follows the publishing industry’s standards (based on The Chicago Manual of Style).
Okay, now for the harder question: If you’re on a tight budget, which edit should you choose first?
I’m biased of course because I’m an editor. I think they’re all important! But if you were to press me, I’d say it depends on your own strengths and weaknesses.
If you stink at grammar, get a copyedit. If you tend to have on-the-nose dialogue, get a line edit. If you struggle with flat characters or plot holes, get a developmental edit.
In the end, it’s about knowing yourself, accepting your limitations, and asking for help. (And as the years go by, what you need help with might change. We’re always learning and growing.)
And that leads me to the last question: What are some of my self-editing tips?
My answer is cliché, but it’s cliché because it’s TRUE . . .
If you want to be a better writer, you have to READ and you have to WRITE.
Basically, you can’t self-edit if you don’t know what good writing looks like.
For example, to get better at developmental editing, join a book club. But don’t just read the book. Study it. Then LISTEN to what others in your group have to say. Their reactions are an excellent barometer of what the author did well and what she struggled with.
Copyediting has lots of avenues for learning, too. Read grammar books, get a daily grammar email in your inbox, work your way through The Chicago Manual of Style. It’s not about taking big steps every once in a while. It’s about taking little steps every day.
I think line editing is the most difficult of the three types to get better at without concerted effort. Line editing deals with writing voice and style, and getting outside your own head to see your writing from a different perspective can be very difficult.
That’s why feedback is so important.
I’m hesitant, though, to suggest any particular route for getting feedback, because if it’s not done right, it can be far more hurtful than helpful.
Ideally, you should get feedback from someone who has more experience than you do. But then the conundrum is, your more experienced partner has an unfair pairing . . . so that’s where signing up for a class or working with an editor may be best.
8. Are you currently working on any other projects? To do with editing, writing, or non-literary related?
Lately I’ve actually been working with small businesses, helping them improve their business copy. And it’s been a lot of fun! Small business owners are passionate about what they do, and I’ve enjoyed helping them figure out how to put that passion into words.
9. What are your top 5 favorite books?
Oh dear, this is going to be painful! Only five?!
Okay, I’m going to limit myself to one book per category. That way I cover more ground.
Here we go:
For MG/YA, I’m going to cheat and say the entire HARRY POTTER series (I’m sure you saw that one coming, Ines!).
For Adult Fiction, I have to go with my girl Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (I also obsessively love the 2005 movie version!).
For Nonfiction, I am completely blown away by Laura Hillenbrand and her book UNBROKEN. In my opinion, Laura is the reigning queen of nonfiction, and I cannot wait for her third book.
For Memoir, it’s THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeanette Walls. I am in awe of Jeanette’s ability to tell such an incredible story so simply, and through the POV of a child.
And for Genre Fiction (I’m running short here so I have to throw all genre fiction together, forgive me!), everything written by Liane Moriarty (my personal favorite is Liane’s first book, Three Wishes).
And I’m going to throw in a bonus book too: THE TALENT CODE by Daniel Coyle. Because every artist needs to read it.
10. If you could have dinner with any three people, passed or alive, who would they be?
My brain just exploded.
The pressure! The pressure!
Okay so, I’d invite Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Because it’d be fun to listen to them insult each other, and maybe they’d even get into a fist fight! Then I’d have Jane Austen sitting next to me, saying witty things while Ernest and Scott fought. And if I could beg my way into getting a fourth guest, I’d have J. K. Rowling on the other side, because she’d have a rollicking good time in all this chaos!
Seriously, how can this interview not leave you completely in love with Cary. I can't stress enough how wonderful it has been to work with her, and like she said, it has turned into a great friendship. Writer's need to surround themselves with positive people that understand the Writer's Journey because, at times, the road can feel long and lonely. Check out Cary's info and site below for more awesomeness!
Cary is a freelance editor and writer. Her website, thefriendlyeditor.com, was chosen by Writer’s Digest as one of the “best websites for writers.”