Friday, June 6, 2014

Editor Interview with Teresa Kennedy

Teresa Kennedy is an author, editor and publisher with more than 25 years experience in the publishing industry. An author or co-author of more than 30 published books, including fiction and non-fiction, she has also run an independent newspaper and published a variety of short stories and articles in publications around the world. She has served as a senior editor, acquisitions editor and consulting editor for a variety of publishers, agents, and book packagers both here and abroad.

What type of stories do you most enjoy editing? 
I have to say my first love is literary fiction, but I’ve also written over 30 books under various pseudonyms, all of them genre based, so I’m pretty well-acquainted with a whole range of styles and genres. I would have to say what I most enjoy are books that bump their genre up a notch and offer a different or unusual take on the formula.

What other books have you edited?
Literally hundreds. I come out of traditional publishing as a senior editor and acquisitions editor, so over the course of the past 25 years have worked with some great (and not so great) writers.

Do you work for a company or are you a freelance editor?
 I have my own company, Village Green Press which offers a whole range of services for independent authors. I also publish a select number of titles but have to stress we are NOT a so-called vanity press! If something’s not right for us, I’ll do my best to help the author self-publish or otherwise find a home for their work.

What does your editing process look like from start to finish?
 First, I do a read-through because it’s very difficult to just jump in and start editing “cold” without being familiar with the story. I make notes along the way or problems or discrepancies or simply places where the pacing lags or the narrative might be stronger. Then, depending on the level of editing the author has asked for I get down to the nuts and bolts; and finally offer a half hour consultation if there are any questions or problems.

Are your rates affordable for indie authors?
 I certainly hope so. I don’t charge what an amateur editor would charge because I’m not an amateur, but at the same time, I try to be sensitive to an author’s needs and budget and give them the best bang I can for their buck!

How do you decide your pricing?
 I use the Editorial Freelancer’s Association guide.

What are some of the typical mistakes you see writers make?
 I did a funny blog post on that awhile back, but truly I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “typical” mistake. Every book is different and every writer is different. I have certain editorial pet peeves, of course. One is to include a scene or passage of dialogue that doesn’t do anything to move a story forward. Another is what I call the “disembodied body parts,”  It is an unwritten rule of editorial thumb that unless you’ve authored some sort of zombie apocalypse, body parts should not react independently of the characters they’re attached to. “Her head swiveled at Alfonse’s entrance, as her chest heaved” might mean anything from torrid attraction to something out of “The Exorcist,” but unless we know the parts are indeed attached to the character in question, we have no way of discerning just what Milady’s reaction to Alfonse might consist of. 

What should a writer expect (or not expect) out of an editor?
Because we live in a point-and-click world, many writers seem to feel that you can edit 100,000 words in 24 hours. I suppose it can be done, but that doesn’t mean it can be done well. Good editing is like good writing. It takes time, thought, and care.

What do you think makes a good editor?
Someone who really understands fiction craft and good writing. Someone who cares about the quality of your work as much as you do. Above all somebody who understands that it is not an editor’s job to change your story; it’s the editor’s job to help you tell it more effectively. 

When you’re not editing what do you like to do?
Write, cook, read and garden.


  1. That was more fun than I expected from an editor interview! If I could ask a question, it would be this: What has happened to the humor "genre"? I never see it listed. Zombies; check. Chicks; check. Dudes with Awesome Chests; check. Horror, mystery, fantasy, sci fi; check. check. You get out of here.

    1. Thanks! Humor is definitely still out there, but it tends to be sub categorized under broader areas. ChikLit, for example tends to contain a lot of humorous works, but fantasy and horror, not so much. Still people are morphing genre all the time, so who knows?

  2. Wonderful! With so much self-publishing going on, editors are needed now more than ever. Lovely interview. I hope to see more.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm always taking on new clients and would love to see new work anytime anybody's ready to send it on. And don't worry...I don't bite!

  3. Teresa is not only a fabulous editor, but she has a great business sense and I appreciated her council so much when we were working on a book together. And, it's easy to tell she has a marvelous sense of humor which makes the grammar go easier. Best wishes and hugs my friend!