My amazingly talented and wonderful to work with Content Editor, Judy Roth, graciously agreed to answer a bunch of questions I had about the editing process that I thought you would all find quite interesting. So, without further ado, I give you Judy!
Thank you Mary for having me on your blog today. You are a terrific writer to work with and I always enjoy your stories.
Aww, thanks, Judy. I really love working with you, too! You always get where I am going, and make sure it reads as it's supposed to. Now for some questions.
When you're given a book to edit what do you do? What's your process? Do you read through it and make notes? Read through then go back and make notes?
As a writer I am a pantser all the way so I have tried very hard as an editor to be a little more organized. I have lists I check off to be sure I am thinking of everything and I try to have the first round be all about the big picture, the second a real look at consistency, and have each round after that go to the smaller and smaller picture until, wa-la, we’re done. In reality, however, once a pantser always a pantser, it’s just how my mind works, and I tend to do a little of everything all at the same time. To answer your question more specifically, yes, I read through and make comments within the manuscript, and I also keep a sheet of notes to discuss with the author and a sheet of notes to remind me of things that don’t need to be taken care of right away.
After you make your comments and suggestions and send it back to the author, what is your next step? Do you ever look at the changes they've made and think they went way off track from your suggestions? If so, do you try and turn them back on track or see where the new path takes them?
One of the things that amazes me most about authors is their willingness to accept feedback and go with it. I am continually impressed with how much thought authors put into my comments and how they creatively solve issues. Almost always they go beyond what I imagined or asked for and I get to write a big fat “PERFECT, GOOD JOB” on the bottom of the comment. The occasional strays off the path seem to occur when I haven’t been clear enough about what I was asking or I was misinterpreted. The one thing I tell all my authors so many times they must want throttle me is to ask questions when they don’t understand where I’m coming from because that’s when they can go off track. [Love seeing those Great! and Yes! when I get back a round of feedback from you- gives me a great sense of accomplishment.]
How many back and forth passes do you usually do with an author?
As many as it takes. Never less than three and often several more.
What happens if an author doesn't want to make a suggested change? Do you talk about it? Agree to disagree?
That depends on whether I’m working on the ms for a publishing house or I’m working with an author independently. In both cases, I feel like it’s my job to help the author’s voice be heard, and to that end, if we are not seeing eye to eye I try rewording my suggestion to see if I am not being clear, but ultimately it is the author’s name on the beautiful cover and it’s her story. So to me, there is no agreeing or disagreeing. It’s about getting the story to where the author wants it. The only time I ever have to put my foot down is if a publishing house has a specific guideline.
How many books do you work on at a time? What genres?
While I may be working with five or more authors at a time, I only work on one pass of one manuscript at a time. I really like and need to get into the story and put all my energies into it so I notice plot inconsistencies etc. I also judge contests and I am a mentor for my local RWA chapter, CTRWA. I edit most genres. A captivating story with terrific attention grabbing characters can take place anywhere, any time.
What's your favorite genre to work with?
I can’t answer that. I’m a sucker for terrific characters and I’m willing to go back in time, forward, dig into a mystery, hang with the vampires, heat it up, or enjoy a lovely fantasy world as in your beautiful stories.
Do you write? If so what? And where can we find you on the web?
I have a writing and critique partner I’ve been working with for about seventeen years. He is a better marketer and has three published manuscripts. I tend to write the story and put it under my bed. We are currently working on two projects, one is a romantic suspense and the other is non-fiction. Along with writing, I have devoted much of my time for many years now to editing other writers which I truly love. I do have a website for my editing business and that address is judy-roth.com. I can also be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 203-500-0041.
Thank you so much for sharing all that with us, Judy! And if anyone is looking for an editor, swing by Judy's site and check it out.