Q: Do you have a process when editing a book? If so, how do you go about it?
A: My process when editing a book is fairly simple. I just start reading. Then, I begin marking anything I come across: spelling/grammatical problems, redundancy, repetition (I highlight repetition), awkward phrases, etc. I also add comments whether something doesn’t make sense or if it is incongruous with what a character did earlier. I have a very good memory, so I often go back and add plot comments throughout. Some of my initial thoughts change as I read and learn more. I’ll even do brief research to make certain of various problems throughout the manuscript.
Q: Do you think a writer seeking traditional publication should hire an editor before they send out their final draft?
A: The short answer is no, but writers need someone to look over their work. We’re too close to the writing, and we’ll miss things. First, writers should find critique partners, writers’ groups, beta readers, etc. There is a vast world of people who are knowledgeable and willing to help out. These are the connections and networking we writers talk so much about. Often a writer can use these free sources to help whip their manuscript in shape.
If a writer can’t find someone, though, then it might be time to search for an editor. Writers should want to put their best work forward.
Q: As an editor, do you have any pet peeves that you really hate?
A: Oh, my! Where do I start? First, a writer looking for an editor too early. If you want a developmental editor, then that’s different, but copyeditors shouldn’t see first drafts. I’ve turned down clients when I felt their manuscript needed too much work because I didn’t feel like they could perfect the manuscript for publication without more edits than just mine could give them.
I’ve gotten where I hate participial phrases (verb+ing + rest of phrase) because writers misuse them and abuse them. I still use them some myself, but I’ve cut it way down.
Adverbs. I don’t hate them as a whole. Some are needed, but you can tell when it is just lazy writing. I’m guilty of that too.
Lengthy descriptions. Some people love reading descriptions, but I often feel they slow down the pace of a book. Use them wisely.
I’m sure there are more, but an editor will come across something that bothers them if a writer when it is repetitive. And as a writer, I’m guilty of all the things that have become pet peeves of mine.
Q: Is it difficult for you to read a professional novel without consciously looking for errors?
A: It used to be when I first started editing for people. I would just cringe at things. My reading speed halted to a crawl, and I knew an awesome book when I forgot the editing “errors” (i.e. not how I would’ve edited it) and focused on the story. Nowadays, I still notice grammar/spelling errors, some repetition, etc., but I try to keep my editing mind away from my reading mind.
Q: This question is about your writing. Where did you get the idea for the "Gravity" books?
Defying Gravity started with Linia. In 2004 or so, my friend had roped me into a Star Trek role-playing game in Yahoo Groups. The group never got started, but I had this neat alien character who remained with me. Then, in 2009, Pill Hill Press put out a call for romantic suspense. It could be in any genre, so I’d wanted to write a space fantasy/science fiction story. Defying Gravity emerged from it. After the anthology being cancelled and trying Defying Gravity at a few other places, I decided to self-publish it. From there, the world developed, and I wrote Fighting Gravity and Pull of Gravity with my mix of Greek mythology, aliens, and a futuristic setting.
Q: As a writer who produces professional self-published books, do you enlist the assistance of an editor?
A: Sorta. Do I pay an editor? No. But one of my critique partners is an editor for a small press, so we exchange work. I also have two other critique partners who have been with me since 2009. I couldn’t imagine writing without their input.
Q: How do you stay sharp on all the grammar rules?
A: I read. A lot. I’m not a very fast reader, but I do read 50+ books a year, blog posts, etc. If I don’t know something, I look it up. I have an Ask the Editor feature on my blog, and people send me questions. Sometimes I know the answer right away, but I always do research to not only find out if I’m correct but to learn more. In high school, I took an advance grammar class (Grammar is like math, and I was good at math). One thing that helped me learn grammar so well was taking foreign languages: Spanish (5 years), French (2 years), German (1 year), Latin (2.5 years), and Ancient Greek (1.5 years). Nothing prepares you for grammar more than learning what nouns, verbs, etc. are in another language. I also write, and using the language helps.
Thanks Cherie for consenting to be interviewed!
Author Bio: Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her novelettes are published as e-books. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Valley Writers and placed third in Roanoke Valley's BIG READ writing contest. For more information, please visit her website (http://cheriereich.webs.com) and her blog (http://cheriereich.blogspot.com).
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