Friday, July 18, 2014

Editor Interview with Wayne Purdin

As a writer myself, I understand the elements of good fiction as well as correct grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, usage, etc. I am fast, accurate, and affordable, enabling you to meet your deadline and budget with a high-quality book. Send me a sample page of your writing and I will edit it for free so you can see what I can do for you.

What type of stories do you most enjoy editing? 

YA Fantasy and science fiction

What other books have you edited? 

Paranormal, mystery, modern and historical fiction, short story collections

Do you work for a company or are you a freelance editor?


What book are you most proud of having edited?

Voyageers books 1 and 2 by Kelly Johns, and Moon Tortured by McKenzie Hunter. Also Children of the Noah: The Barren Earth by Evan DeCarlo. Currently working on book 2, City of the Star Gods.

What is the best book you’ve read/edited this year?

Children of the Noah: City of the Star Gods. Evan's writing takes my breath away. He must be the reincarnation of Hemingway.

What does your editing process look like from start to finish? 

 I start a stylesheet for consistency check and note down peculiar words and spelling, punctuation (dashes, etc.), character's names and features (hair and eye color, etc.). I check with author during the edit for preferences and deviations from style and note in stylesheet.

Then I do a first pass edit with track changes on all balloons and comments. I send the first pass to author to approve changes and answer questions or suggestions in comments. Authors send it back for second pass edit, which usually takes a lot less time. After second pass, I send edits and comments to author who approves and answers comments and send back for a final proofreading of any material the author changed or added.

Are your rates affordable for indie authors?


How do you decide your pricing?

I figure out how many words I can edit per hour and how much I want to be paid for that hour and calculate the cost per word.

What do you charge?

I can edit 2,500 words and hour. So if I want to make a decent $20/hr, I charge $.008 per word. If it's just proofreading, I charge less. If it's developmental editing, I charge more.

What are some of the typical mistakes you see writers make?

Using the wrong tense especially was instead of were with if sentences. Using then instead of than, it's instead of its, your instead of you're. Using fragments too often.

What are some things you think writers should look for/be wary of when hiring an editor?

If the editor has typos in their proposal. If they don't guarantee their work. If the editor is unwilling to edit a sample.

What things should a writer have done before contacting an editor?

Check the testimonials and portfolio. Have editor sign an NDA.

What should a writer expect (or not expect) out of an editor?

A writer should not expect an editor to read their mind. Communication is essential. A writer should expect a near perfect manuscript after editing. Even after two edit passes, there can still be minor punctuation errors. A proofreader can catch those.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Write every day. Don't give up.

What is the difference between developmental, substantive and copy editing?

Developmental editing is required if the manuscript is a jumble of disorganized passages with a lot of repetition and no grouping of paragraphs into common themes for chapters. Also, character development, and descriptions are sketchy and may need some ghostwriting. I see substantive editing and developmental editing as synonymous. Copy writing deals mostly with correcting sentence structure, grammar, style, usage, spelling, and punctuation.

What do you think makes a good editor?

Detail consciousness; knowledge of styles, usage, and grammar; a good dictionary and thesaurus; and patience.

What style guide do you use, and why?

Depending on the writing, APA, Chicago, or MLA.

How do you feel about serial commas, and why?

They are necessary to avoid the occasional ambiguous sentence.

What annoys you most about the current publishing industry? 

 The length of time to get a book published. Also, the high cost.

When you’re not editing what do you like to do?


Friday, July 11, 2014

Editor Interview with Chris Guthrie

Chris Guthrie is an editor, writer, and publisher with more than eight years of professional experience. He founded Open Book Editors five years ago and has since helped hundreds of writers reach their publication goals. As Editor-in-Chief at Open Book Editors, Chris provides editing services for all genres and writer objectives. However, he is most passionate about helping first-time fiction writers get across the finish line. His most recent fiction has appeared in Amarillo Bay, Crazyhorse, Washington Square Review, Fiction Magazine, and Litro. His novel, The Shack Cartel, is due out later this year. Chris lives in Newport News, Virginia with his wife Beth and children, Ava and Dylan.

What book are you most proud of having edited?

One of the books that I’m proudest of having edited is a memoir called Feels Like the First Time, by Shawn Inmon. Shawn was an unpublished real estate agent with a passion for the language and a story to tell when I met him just three years ago. Since that time he’s sold well over 20,000 books, based on a few good stories and relentless energy for every aspect of publishing. I’m proud of the role that Open Book Editors played in getting him there. Writers like Shawn provide a great example to unpublished writers who are passionate about the language and have specific goals for their work.

What is the best book you’ve read/edited this year?

The best book I’ve edited this year is called A Danger to God Himself by John Draper. It should be out later this year. John is a fantastic writer who has crafted a unique voice and has a gift for combining highly realistic characters with highly improbable contexts. It’s truly a great read from a first-time author.

Are your rates affordable for indie authors?

We do everything we can to make our rates affordable for indie authors, including offering a 15% discount for new and emerging authors. While we edit every genre and work with authors who boast a wide range of writing experience, we’re especially passionate about working with writers who are dedicated to getting their first novel across the finish line.

What are some of the typical mistakes you see writers make?

One of the most common mistakes that writers make is failing to see the reader’s perspective when they are writing. This is a mistake that even the most seasoned writers can make, because it’s hard to consider what a reader might think while focusing on individual sentences and paragraphs – the real nuts and bolts of a manuscript. One of the best adjustments most writers can make is learning to think like a reader during the writing process.

What are some things you think writers should look for/be wary of when hiring an editor?

It’s important to find an editor who will edit a sample for free. This is critical for establishing expectations between a writer and an editor and seeing what the text will look like once it’s been edited. Professional editing is extremely thorough and generally geared toward making every single word count. It is vastly different from editing that has been done by a conscientious friend with an eye for detail. Writers should also look for editors who have a track record of helping writers get published or who have been recommended by other authors. It’s important to go the extra mile to learn about the editor – including phone calls and a little online investigative work – before making a decision.

What should a writer expect (or not expect) out of an editor?

Above all else, a writer should expect to evolve and grow as a writer. Professional editing should transform the writer, in part by seeing how a professional tackles the same challenges that the writer has been facing in the course of creating the manuscript. The writer’s manuscript should be polished, clean, and more marketable as a result of professional editing. But more importantly, the act of having a book edited is an important part of the evolution of passionate writers, especially as they absorb the changes that an editor makes and begin to discern patterns in the edited text. An editor should also become the writer’s partner, which is critical for aligning an authorial vision with an editorial vision. These are key steps in creating a polished, marketable manuscript.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

There are entire sections of bookstores dedicated just to giving advice to writers – way too much advice out there. The single best piece of advice I know of is to read, read, and read some more. Re-read your favorite authors and really think about why they’re your favorites. Absorb what they do great and don’t be afraid to be a little derivative. Make your art a departure from the greatness of other writers. And don’t be afraid to suck at writing for a while (especially in comparison to your favorite writers). The best writers embrace failure and use it to guide them toward success.

What is the difference between developmental, substantive and copy editing?

Our developmental editing package provides a comprehensive report that includes suggestions and recommendations regarding narrative structure, character development, tone, voice, dialogue, style, and other key elements of a manuscript, in addition to basic copy editing. It provides very thorough professional guidance based on years of industry experience designed to get the writer over the finish line. Copy editing provides polished, lean, and error-free text. In both cases, the end result strips away the fat to get the exciting elements of the manuscript popping off the page.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Editor Interview with Lin White

Hi, I’m Lin White and I’m an editor/proofreader. I run my own company and love working with authors to develop their work and ready it for publication. I work at all levels, from detailed feedback (alpha/beta reading) to final proofread and formatting for publication.

I have forty years’ experience as a reader and twenty years’ experience as a teacher, including English and creative writing. I have studied the English Language, including aspects of style and the influence of other languages, and I have also worked as a typesetter and proofreader. I am based in the UK, and predominantly work in UK English, although I have also worked with authors from elsewhere, including those whose first language is not English.

Do you work for a company or are you a freelance editor?
I’m freelance, running my own company, Coinlea Services, which offers editing and proofreading to indie authors, and I also write educational materials. In my spare time I’m working on my own writing, so I sympathise with the struggles authors face!

What type of stories do you most enjoy editing?
I like a wide range, and have worked mostly with fantasy stories, but I particularly like more unusual projects, particularly non-fiction. For example, a parenting memoir was great fun.

Some of the typical mistakes I see writers make:
The most frustrating type of mistake in fiction is when the main character drifts along and things just happen to them, without any effort, or when they don’t seem to care about what’s happening. A book where the character knows what they want and are working to achieve it is much more engaging.

Another mistake has to be not giving enough background information early on, particularly in fantasy/sci fi works, where it’s important to help the reader to picture the world. One book had me believing we were in a pre-industrial age until halfway through when there was a comment about a lightswitch, which completely changed the way I saw the world!

How do you decide your pricing?
My price has to be a careful balance between what authors are willing/able to pay and what I need to cover my bills. While I would like to offer my services really cheaply, I have to bear in mind that I can’t do a good job if I’m working all hours just to cover my basic costs. The job is also highly skilled, and should receive suitable recognition. That, to me, is part of offering a professional service.

Are your prices affordable for indie authors?
I hope so. My rates for indie authors writing fiction or creative non-fiction are lower than rates within the rest of the publishing industry as they tend to have simpler layouts. On the other hand, I need to make sure I can devote enough time to a job to make sure I do it well, and I can’t do that if I’m having to work silly hours for very little money.

Do you have any advice for new writers?
Make sure you learn your craft thoroughly! It’s far too easy these days to self-publish, maybe before your writing has really developed. Please understand that there are many stages and levels between finishing a complete novel and having it publication-ready, and it can be disheartening to publish too early and receive only negative reviews.

What things should a writer have done before contacting an editor?
Ideally, they will have written their first draft, edited it thoroughly, put it out to a beta reader (or several), incorporated feedback from that and checked it through again (don’t forget to use the spellcheck!). Then they will have taken it as far as they can on their own and will be ready for professional input.

What does your editing process look like from start to finish?
I’m probably a little unusual, as I also offer a paid beta reading service. This has proved very popular, and gives an author a chance to receive overall feedback on the book for a small fee. It also gives me and them a chance to see how the other works.

If they decide to use me as an editor, they will then return the manuscript to me after they have finished the beta reading process and I will read through and tidy it up, checking grammar and punctuation and correcting any errors (copy edit).

If this is all they have asked me to do, I would then return the manuscript for them to deal with as they wish.

Alternatively, if they have paid for developmental editing, then I would also return it with further, more thorough feedback on structure and content and following their review would go through the document one more time to check for last-minute errors.

I can also format it for print or ebook formats, for a small extra fee.

If we are going straight for an edit without a beta read, I would do a free sample edit so they are aware of how I work and I can advise on what level of editing I consider would be needed.

How do you feel about serial commas, and why?
Personally I feel that there are arguments on both sides. I don’t tend to use them myself unless they add to clarity, which after all is the main purpose of punctuation.

When editing, however, I will take the author’s preference. My job is to make sure the author comes across clearly and their message and voice can be heard, not to impose my own style on a piece of work. To this end I will seek consistency within a piece of writing, but otherwise make changes only if it is clearly technically wrong or unclear, and therefore distracting to the reader, not because I don’t like the style of it.

Lin White


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Indie Books Read: June

Here at Phantom Owl we support indie authors. We've asked book bloggers to share their indie book reviews with us, and at the beginning of every month, we're going to share with all of you the wonderful books they've suggested. We hope to not only bring attention to indie books, but also to promote the bloggers that are taking the time to read and review them.

The list includes books of all genres.

June was a bit of a slow month. We want to thank The Good, The Bad and The Bizarre for their submissions, and to let book reviewers everywhere know that we'd love to know what indies you've read in July. To find out how to link up to your indie book reviews click HERE.

Books are arranged by rating.

Shadowcursed by Gelo Fleisher
The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre Rating: Good
Goodreads Rating: 4.46 Stars

"The characters are easy enough to understand and sympathize with, and have enough complexity to keep them interesting, but enough simplicity that they don’t trouble the reader with questions afterwards. All in all, a good show and worth the read." - The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre

The Guests of Honor: Tales from the Virtue Inn, Book One by Cat Amesbury
The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre Rating: Bizarre
Goodreads Rating: 4.46

"The novel was sometimes exceptionally thick with the wacky and the strange—and, though we could share the heroine’s exhaustion at the end of each day (no wonder for that, given that she’s essentially battled the bizarre for her life all day long), we were always eager to turn the page and almost always surprised at what we encountered there." - The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre

Stranger in the House by Chris Vaughn
The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre Rating: Bad
Goodreads Rating: 3.33

"we were ultimately disappointed because this story was only a few steps away from greatness, and with all its problems it just could not cross the finish line." - The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre

See what books were suggested by bloggers in May.

If you are a blogger who would like to contribute to the "Indie Books Read: June" post, you can do so HERE. Reviews submitted must be for books read in July of 2014, must be self-published or  published by an independent or small press (like Phantom Owl), and must be added by the reviewer not the author. You can add a review for a book that we've already featured, but cannot submit the same review twice.

How can we improve this post? Let us know, leave a comment.