Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Asking Editor Cherie Reich Seven Questions

I would like you to welcome super editor Cherie Reich to my blog today. Cherie is a professional editor, an accomplished author, a book blogger, and a super intelligent person. She also practices clear communication. She tells me exactly where her eyes begin to glaze over in my writing. I appreciate that so much, because "eye-glazing" is bad. In other words, "Just say NO to eye glaze."

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?
A: 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).

SBB Editing Services: http://sbbeditingservices.wordpress.com/


  1. Excellent tips, Cherie! Since doing the blog and reading a lot more, adverbs annoy the heck out of me too.

    It's good that you can switch 'editor mode' off when reading for pleasure, I'm not sure I would be able to do the same.

  2. This was interesting. Good advice from an excellent editor/writer. I like how you integrated your own mistakes and learning experiences Cherie.

    Hi Mike. Thanks for hosting Cherie today.


  3. "I just start reading" - simple enough. Lengthy descriptions aren't my thing either.
    Good stuff, Cherie!

  4. I agree with Cherie on many of her points. Reading is a great way to improve and stay sharp for editing and writing.

  5. Great points Cherie, especially about the advantage of having beta readers.

  6. greetings to Cherie! Nice interview, people!

  7. Awesome interview! I sometimes have a hard time turning off that editor switch. And pet peeves? I can go on and on. Love the covers of your trilogy!

  8. It's always helpful to read what someone has to say who is in the know. Thanks for having Cherie on your blog today, Michael! :)

  9. Thank you so much, Mike, for interviewing me!

    Jamie - Thank you! The editor mode switch was very difficult to find, but it slowly gets easier.

    Donna - Thank you! Being an editor, like being a writer, is a work-in-progress. No one knows everything, and you learn with each edit.

    Alex - Thank you! I'm definitely with you on length descriptions. When I'm reading, I'll sometimes skip or skim them. Not good. I think it was Leonard Elmore who said he just left out the boring parts...or something like that.

    Brinda - Thanks! It always amazes me how many writers/editors say they don't read or don't read much.

    Cindy - Thanks! Oh, I don't know what I would do without my beta readers and critique partners.

    Dezmond - Thanks!

    Nicole - Thanks, and I know what you mean. It was really hard to turn off that editor switch.

    David - Thank you. I'm always learning, even though I try to know as much as possible. :)

  10. I enjoyed reading this. The tips were useful. Thanks.

  11. I wasn't entirely sure what "participial phrases" meant but when I looked it up... YES. SO MUCH YES. Those are incorrectly used and overused so much!

    Overly-descriptive passages also bore me. I got into a habit when I was a kid of skimming them. I know a book is good when I find myself reading descriptions, completely fascinated.

  12. Hey Cherie,

    I've read several of your interviews, but I never knew about all those foreign languages. Including Greek & Latin? Impressive!

    I agree about having someone else edit it before you submitt. I'm lucky I have my mother to read every word I write first. She's a writer, english major and has a masters in creative writing. Plus a proud mom! I couldn't have written my stories without her editing and guidance.

    Cool cover for your Gravity Trilogy!

  13. Great interview and thanks for the advice Cherie. It's fun to read a post from an editor's prospective. (:

  14. Really interesting interview and some solid advice. I imagine that having a good grasp of so many languages makes for a rich writing experience.

  15. good advice, cherie... thx for the interview, mike

    RANT: if... then - is a code-writing command, in rarely used today BASIC, NOT proof of what one is trying to convey

    what burns my ass is, so many folk use it, including medical doctors for chrissakes, all trying to make a point

    look at just about any missive, and most likely the 'argument' goes: if... then: it proves nothing; whoever began that fallacy should be guillotined

  16. Nice interview, darling Cherie! I can't wait to read your trilogy. <3 Lisa

  17. Awesome interview! Very good things to know. I've cut far back on the adverbs too. Looking at my writing from years ago, I cringe at all the -ly words! *LOL*

  18. Isn't it funny how what bothers you in your own writing is what bothers you in others? And I dislike lengthy descriptions, too.

  19. I think knowing our weaknesses as writers helps us when critiquing others. I know my flaws, so I'm naturally on the lookout for them in other people's writing. And I'm such a slow reader now too, because I'm unable to turn that inner editor off all the way unless completely swept away by the story.

  20. Awesome interview! I'll keep the (verb)ing + rest of sentence in mind...

  21. excellent interview! thanks, cherie, for the editing tips!

  22. What an impressive lady! Fortunately, I'm pretty good with grammar, punctuation, and other stuff, but even then all kinds of little problems (or bigger plot ones) can slip by me. Like Cherie advises, I run my manuscripts by several people, and they all get back to me about changes and corrections. And I've just discovered that a more casual friend is a super anal (I mean that in a good way) proofreader. So from now on she'll be reading the final copies of my manuscripts.

  23. Great interview.

    I'll have to remember your point about participial phrases. I know I use them occasionally.

    Thanks for the tips!

  24. Yes, all great advice. I do ms editing as well. Didn't know you did that! I will keep you in mind for myself, and others who ask. Good luck on your series!
    Catherine Stine’s Idea City

  25. Excellent interview. Good questions, good answers.


  26. This is a fantastic interview! So useful. Gonna go back and look to make sure I didn't make those 'no-nos' :)

  27. I try to slice all those adverbs out of my writing but I'm not quite talented enough to do it. At least I'm aware of them.
    Good luck wiht all your jobs, Cherie.

  28. Wow. Great stuff. Thats a lot of languages to have studied.

  29. Lydia, I really liked reading your editing process and thoughts about editing. I get better with each book, but I'm still not where I want to be.

  30. Great interview. I love lengthy descriptions but in the hands of a master storyteller. We all have our quirks and we need someone with a sharp eye to pick these up in our writing. I can't help myself finding grammar mistakes and typos in books.

  31. Awesome interview.

    Cherie, how did you get started as a copy editor?

  32. Nice interview! I have trouble turning my editing brain off sometimes. It's good to hear you've been able to get past that.

  33. Thanks, everyone!

    And Cally Jackson, I kinda fell into being an editor. I was worried about my library job and thought some extra income would be good. A friend told me about the small publisher she worked for was looking for a proofreader. I spoke to the senior editor, did an editing test, and got the job. I proofread a manuscript or two before they had me editing/critiquing manuscripts. Eventually, I decided to go at it alone.

  34. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Cherie. I'm considering trying my hand at copy editing as I think I've got the eye for it. It can't hurt to investigate a little further. :-)

  35. What a fabulous post! I loved Cherie's responses and the fact that she was so honest. I am glad she is sometimes able to turn off her editor's mind when reading. I was wondering about that. Thanks so much for sharing!