As a writer, it’s very important to interact with writing groups to network and build relationships. The writers you meet in these groups will become your cheerleaders, your critics, and your support.
One group that I enjoy participating in is Wanda’s Amazing Amazon Reviewers. I was lucky enough to meet an editor there named Lynn Worton, and she graciously agreed to an interview. Check it out below and make sure to participate in the giveaway at the bottom!
What made you decide to become an editor?
I have always had a passion for reading from being a young girl. As I grew older, I decided I would love to be a proofreader, but never followed my dream until recently.
Do you like to write? Or do you prefer the editing process?
I don’t write books or articles, but I do write reviews, which is how I finally decided to follow my dream of being a proofreader and editor. I enjoy the editing process a lot. I find it quite challenging at times, but it is also very rewarding.
In your view, what is the role of an editor?
The role of an editor is to support an author by assisting with not only proofreading and correcting spelling errors and punctuation, but offering constructive criticism or suggestions with regards to storyline, content, character development and pacing to enable the book to be published to a high standard.
What kinds of editing (or what part of editing) do you most (and least) enjoy? Why?
I mostly do copy editing. I make suggestions and comments to the author about the sentences and scenes within the story. I look at the whole book and will change content slightly if I feel the story is being either bogged down with too much description, or there is not enough. This also affects the flow, so I have to make sure the pacing fits with what’s happening within the story. I really enjoy doing this because I can see where the author wants the story to go, but sometimes they struggle to see wood for the trees. Having an objective eye helps.
The least enjoyable part of editing is how time consuming it is. Editing is not an easy thing to do and cannot be rushed. It takes hours upon hours to edit a book.
When someone gives you something to edit, what do you do?
Once I receive a manuscript, I usually just jump right in. Other editors do a read through before they begin to edit. I tried that but, I couldn’t help myself and started making corrections straight away. I take it a sentence at a time and, if it doesn’t sound right or the punctuation or spelling is wrong, I correct it there and then.
What kind of education is required to edit work successfully?
There is no special education needed, apart from a firm grasp of whichever language you are working in, whether it is English, German, French or Swahili; good spelling and grammar are also required. But, it helps if you are an avid reader and enjoy different genres. This, I think, gives an editor a better understanding of how a story should flow depending on the subject matter. I found it is mostly passion for the written word which is the driving force behind most editors, myself included. I decided to do a professional proofreading and editing course, which offered me a diploma at the end of it. This piece of paper will hopefully open a few more doors which would have remained closed to me otherwise.
What is the difference between proofreading, copy editing, and the substantive part of editing (such as revising for purpose, audience, organization, clarity, or accuracy of ideas)?
Good question! I’m still working that out for myself but, I will try to answer to the best of my ability. The difference between proofreading, copy editing and substantive is:
Proofreading is basically a comprehensive sweep for errors, including formatting problems, spelling, grammar and inconsistencies.
Copy editing includes proofreading, but also involves making suggestions and comments and asking questions to ensure clarity and consistency (e.g. definitions, structure and organisation, argument), and making editorial changes that will improve the overall quality of the work.
The substantive part of editing such as revision for purpose or fact checking is more complex and involves searching through the internet or reference books to make sure the author will not include false or libelous statements within their work. This is not something I have had to do yet, nor do I offer this service at the moment. I am still a relative newcomer to the editing world, but I may offer this service once I feel more competent in doing so.
What are some conflicts or difficulties you experience as an editor?
As I have previously stated. I am a relative newcomer and haven’t edited more than a handful of books. So I have yet to find myself in conflict with an author but, I am sure that if a problem did occur in the future, I would be able to work through the issue in a professional manner.
The only difficulty I have experienced has been to find the time to edit!
What would the ideal editing job be for you?
The ideal editing job for me would be a book that presents me with a challenge, but where I find myself totally engaged with the characters and the scenes involved. If I can picture the characters and scenarios clearly, as well as feel the emotions as I edit, then I know that the book is good and worth publishing.
At one extreme, editors can fight for every comma; at the other extreme, they can cave in at the least resistance from a writer. Which way do you tend? How do you determine when to stand up for an editorial change that someone challenges?
This is another good question! I don’t really know the answer but, I suppose I am one of those who will fight for every comma. I think proper placement is important. I haven’t had to stand up to a challenge yet but, if I had to, I suppose it would depend on the author’s intent and my interpretation of the sentence. If the author feels that his or her intent has been compromised, then I would consider backing down; it is their story after all. But, I would make my opinion known; diplomatically of course.
What does a typical day for you look like?
I was working full time, but since leaving my job to follow my dream of becoming an editor and proofreader, I now work as a part-time temp, two days a week. But recently, I have been working a four day week as I have no editing jobs on at the moment. So when I am editing, I have to take that into consideration. If I have a book to edit and, depending on whether household chores need doing, a typical day starts off as any other. I get up, have breakfast, get washed and changed. I do any household chores needed and then I set up my laptop, either on the kitchen table or on my lap on the settee (couch), and open the file for editing. I generally sit in front of the computer for up to six hours (apart from the few toilet breaks and tea/coffee/water trips and lunch). If I feel like doing more editing, I will then go back to the computer and do some more. However, that is maybe only for another hour or two. I will then stop editing and pick up the latest book I am reading. I write reviews too; I think I may have mentioned this above somewhere. Sometimes I listen to an audio book rather than read after doing edits; this is so I can rest my eyes. I then prepare and cook dinner. After dinner, I’m back on the computer, but this time I’m checking my e-mails, writing reviews and/or preparing blog tours and promotional advertisements on the different social networking sites I frequent. My day ends around Midnight (UK time, as that’s where I live) and I then go to bed so I can be ready to start the next day’s round of editing.
Tell us something no one would ever guess about you.
I’m generally an open book, so there is not much people would ever guess about me. I am struggling to come up with something! But here’s one:
I used to love crewing on sail boats when I was younger. My dad had a one man dinghy he used to race on the local lake (which also happened to be our water supply for the city) where we used to live in Zimbabwe. I used to crew for one of his friends on his two man dinghy. Unfortunately, he became ill (he wasn’t a young man, he was in his sixties, but he had been sailing for quite a long time before my dad joined the sailing club) and had to stop sailing, so my crewing days were over as there was no one else with a two man dinghy at the lake. I haven’t set foot on a dinghy now for over 30 years. If I did now, I’m sure I would find it extremely uncomfortable. I’m not as flexible as I once was for a start. But, I have fond memories of the experience.
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