Thursday, December 1, 2011
Interview of Freelance Book Editor, Helen Woodall
Weekly updates with writing tips.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Price is between four and six cents per word depending on how much work is involved.
Helen has been editing professionally and full-time for over twenty years, first for an Australian company with newspapers, magazines and books in their stable; then for an Australia-wide newspaper; and finally for Ellora’s Cave from 2006 until October 2011.
She is now a freelance editor of both fiction, and non-fiction, using US English or Australian English.
Q: What motivated you to get involved in the romance industry?
A: I have always loved reading romance. After years of editing often boring documents, to be paid to read romance novels was a dream come true.
Q: What's one important thing you've learned about the romance industry?
A: If you want to succeed in romance writing you have to treat it professionally, as a business. Your facts and choreography must be accurate, just as your spelling and grammar should be. Several years ago in Australia a fiction book won a bunch of awards...until some readers realized that the two countries where the heroine supposedly walked across the border from one to the other do not share a border. Do your research and get it right. And yes, the awards were taken away from the book and the author and publishing house were castigated for their unprofessionalism.
Q: What does a freelance editor do?
A: That depends on each editor. A freelancer can choose how much input she’s prepared to give. I do not rewrite anything, nor do I go researching your book for you. I will indicate where your spelling, grammar, POV etc are wrong, telling you what CMOS/common practice would use, and/or with suggestions to fix your problems. I’ll suggest you check historical and geographical facts if they seem inaccurate or messy to me. I’ll point out where I think there are plot holes and loose threads. But it is the author’s choice whether or not they accept my suggestions. This is very different from publishing houses which have strict rules to be followed and where the author is often bound by her contract to follow house style.
If your book is being written for a specific publisher, I’ll check you’re following their submission guidelines, formatting and style.
Q: Tell us what type of client you are looking for. How important is it for a writer to have a firm grasp of grammar/industry guidelines before approaching you?
A: Books should have been proofread by a critique partner with a good eye for grammar before being sent to me. Most publishing houses will not read a book with more than a very few errors in the first ten pages. If your opening chapter is littered with typos and grammatical errors what you have produced is a first draft. That is an excellent beginning but you aren’t ready for an editor yet. First get it proofread and critiqued. Then, when it’s cleaned up, submit it for editing.
As an author, you are paying for professional editing. To get the best value for your money send in as clean a book as you can so the editor can concentrate on polishing it, not be distracted by the heroine whose eye color and hair color change mid-book, and a hero who drives a different car in every chapter – unless he’s a race car driver of course.
Q: What do you expect from a prospective client?
A: A professional attitude to producing the best book she can. We can work together to achieve this.
Q: What can a client expect from you?
A: Sound advice on what a publisher will and will not accept. There are publishers that stop reading a submission if they find even one single error! A thorough grasp of CMOS – even those silly, confusing rules other people hate. Patience and a listening ear. I know this is your baby and you love her dearly. I’m not going to change your voice, just polish her up to look pretty.
Q: What type of ebook reader do you have? Favorite genres?
A: Ebook readers are much more expensive in Australia than the US. Mostly I read on my desktop and laptop.
Re genres, I love all types of romance, historicals, mysteries, pretty much anything from the ultra-sweet to the very kinky.
Q: What are your guidelines for someone requesting your services?
A: This is a business relationship, it’s not personal. I will offer advice that is soundly grounded in what is expected by publishing houses and which will help you sell your book. You pay me. It’s up to you whether you accept my advice or not.
Having said that, may I reiterate that the book should be carefully proofread and critiqued before you send it to me.
Please add anything else you feel is important.
Fiction writing is a tough business world. Readers are picky and want a good book. That is, they want a clean manuscript, and a solid story without plot holes and inconsistencies. If it’s an erotic romance they want hot sex and a genuine connection between the characters too. If you give them that they will be faithful and come back and buy all your books, and tell their friends about how wonderful your books are.
Posted by Marianne Stephens at 12:01 AM