Interview with an Editor Part II
There are many areas in which an author can invest when it comes to getting their book published. One is, of course, cover art. They say, “never judge a book by its cover,” but everyone does.
The other BIG area an author should take seriously is editing. A good editor is worth far more than their fee. You can lose a reader before they crack open the book with a boring cover, but you can lose someone in the first paragraph if your book is not well edited.
In this series, my hope is to expose authors to the value, place and benefit of a good editor. In the first part of this series, I interviewed Eric Shay Howard. I encourage you to check out that blog here.
In part two of “Interview with an Editor,” I have the privilege of interviewing Deborah A. Bowman.
As with all three of the editors I am interviewing, Deborah is an author. She is also someone who really cares about authors. Her desire is for an author’s success and I have learned from my interaction with her that she will give what she can to help an author succeed. That’s a good quality in an editor.
So, let’s get started!
1. What are the most common story-line issues you catch as you edit a book?
Plot/Story-line: I am a content and development editor as well as an editorial advisor. When doing an edit and I find inconsistencies or discrepancies, which of course happens to us all, I point it out and make suggestions on how to get the action/scene/plot back on track and in sync. FOR NO-CHARGE, I will look at one chapter of your book with a synopsis to aid the author who has literally written him/herself into a corner. It is easy to do when you know where you want to go but get turned around on how to get there. Authors need to do sound research in all genre, fiction and nonfiction. Even the fantasy genre with alternate realities and other worlds needs realism and believability. If the story isn’t feasible or couldn’t really have happened even in a fantastical setting, too far-fetched, the Story-line may need to be altered or more logically supported by the writing, consistent tense, and sequence of events/action.
2. As an editor, if you could give one piece of advice to a new author, what would it be?
“All writers are readers, but not all readers should be writers.”
I think the best advice I can give a new author is to be prepared to face rejection, negative critiques, and bad reviews without emotional repercussions. This is a tough industry and getting tougher all the time because of the sheer volume of reading material available online and in-print. If you react with anger and ego, you may miss some very essential lessons from which we all have to learn and grow. It isn’t fun, and everyone has the right to their own opinions. Accept comments/critiques graciously and learn from all your experiences as you hone your craft, read other authors/books in the genre of your choice, and experiment with new and innovative ideas as well as the tried-and-true. Never stop learning, no matter how many books you have under your belt. The world changes and rearranges as it evolves, and we must do so with it.
3. As an editor, if you could give one piece of advice to a seasoned author, what would it be?
I have edited for seasoned writers as well as beginners, offering special discounts and mentoring for new writers. My best advice is find an editor that works best with you and stay with them. Trust your editor and the process will go even more smoothly and efficiently with each succeeding book. I do tend to keep the same writers coming back to me time and time again. I really love to build and support long-term relationships, which is a WIN-WIN-WIN situation. The writer wins by knowing the book will be handled as they wish; the reader wins by getting the best quality in their purchases; and the editor wins by knowing the creative personality of the writer and can pick up on things the writer may miss because he/she is too close to the story, knows the outcome, and can sometimes be too subjective. The WIN system usually brings better reviews as well … our life’s blood in ink.
4. As an editor, what advice would you give to an author when it comes to receiving feedback from an editor?
Be open to discussing in person or through emails/comments in the manuscript, what you expect from your editor, what you want in the type of changes you’re looking for, whether you want to know why every single change is made or not (some do; some don’t), and if you would like mentoring to improve your writing throughout the process. Communication is a great asset to any relationship. I have a unique process of editing, developed by myself, that gives double-bang for the buck. I edit as an editor, but also as a reader. I won’t go into detail here because it is tailor-made for the author who I am working with and is agreed upon between the two of us. Getting an avid reader’s reaction instead of just editorial advice and suggestions is a big plus that I can offer for the first-time author to the seasoned professional.
5. As an editor, what kind of questions do authors ask that let you know they are really looking for your input?
“Questions are free,” is my personal motto. I do a free read-and-critique of the first chapter or about 5 pages, explaining everything I’m doing upfront. That way I find out what someone likes and wants. I have been asked how I can keep up with such a high level of communication without slowing the process down. Actually … since the unique system I have devised is for that specific writer, it speeds up the process as we zone in on what that author needs and wants in each manuscript. I’ve had authors who tell me, “Just fix it; I don’t need to know the specifics.” And then, there are others who want to see every single change and know the reason behind it. Some of these are authors I am teaching or mentoring, and this is not an extra fee. It is something I am willing to throw in “gratis” because the more the writer knows, the better the writer writes, and the more help I can be as a professional editorial and publishing advisor.
6. Is there a question you wish authors would ask you and what’s the answer to it?
Maybe it would be nice for them to ask, “Do you love what you do, and what do you personally get out of this type of work?” And my answer would be a definite “Yes!” I love being involved in the process of making a book and its author the very best it can possibly be. I take much pride in following the journey of each book, each story, and especially the individual. Editors have such a bad reputation, but I’m really working at changing this, and I know other editors are doing so as well. I want to be as invested in your book as you are, and I cherish the award-winning authors I already represent and hope that you can be the next one to win such honors. I write fiction as well and because of that I feel I can relate to your concerns and expectations in a common bond.
I end with a sentiment that I alluded to earlier, “It’s a tough market out there, and we have to do everything we can to make ourselves noticed and in-vogue with constantly altering trends and new technological advances.”
Again, here’s some info about Deborah: Deborah Bowman does just about everything you need when it comes to getting your book to print. You can check her out at Clasid Consultants and bowmanauthor.com.