Saturday, December 15, 2012

An interview with editor Susan Hughes

Your novel is approaching completion.  You have worked and slaved over every...single...paragraph.  You have personally edited, and re-edited, and then erased every change you made the previous day.  Your friends have read it and edited for content.  Perhaps they even found some typos.  Now, you're done.  Right?  Wrong.  I'm sorry, but show me a novel that does not require professional editing and I will show you a novel that has already been professionally edited.  

I realized this when Susan Hughes took a look at my website and made a quick correction to the title.  Yep, the title.  After thanking her for the free edit (and making the change on the website,) I would now like to introduce the members of this site to a terrific editor with a passion for mysteries.  Please read below an interview with Susan Hughes.

Why do I need an editor?  My mom loves my book!
Before I start, I’d like to thank Kristen for giving me this opportunity to introduce myself to you and become a part of your amazing community.  Her support, and yours, is greatly appreciated. Now…..

Of course your mom loves your book!  And it’s great that she’s willing to take the time to read it.  After mom, dad, and your BFF are done reading, it’s time for you to get back to work. An editor will provide an unbiased and objective look at your work and help you get it ready for publication.  Wait till your mom sees the finished product!

Please tell us a little about yourself.  What are your qualifications and work experience?
I was a public school teacher for 29 years, then “retired” and took a position at a non-profit that provides services for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. I have a degree in English Literature and inherited my love of writing from my mother, who was the queen of limerick writing.  I have always been the go-to writer for family, friends, and colleagues.  I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but life keeps getting in the way. The next best thing is polishing up the writing of others.  My husband and I have two grown children, one grandchild (and another on the way), and a furry herd of Yorkshire Terriers to keep us company.

Can you direct us to a book you have edited?
I was hired by Richard Stephenson to edit his 4 part New America series.  Book one, Collapse, is currently selling for $15 (paperback) on Amazon. I also edited the short story that evolved from that book.  Its title is Spider, and it’s also available on Amazon. The second book in the series, Resistance, will be available next summer.

What genres of books do you edit?  What are your favorite genres of books to read?
When I pick up a book to read for pleasure, it’s usually a mystery of some sort. I enjoy reading Richard Patterson, Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell, Lisa Scottoline, Iris Johansen….the list goes on. When I’m in the mood for something different, I enjoy reading Sue Miller, Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Berg, Joy Fielding, Sue Monk Kidd (How much space do I have here?).

When it comes to editing, I try not to discriminate. Collapse, for instance, is a dystopian thriller – a genre I’d never read prior to doing the edit. I just completed editing work on a book that includes time travel, and I’m under contract to edit a book of poetry. 

What is your philosophy about the relationship between a writer and an editor?
A writer enters into a partnership when hiring an editor. The two become a team, both with the same goal in sight. I don’t attempt to change the writer’s voice or intent. I take the work I’m given and build on it, making sure it’s not full of errors that will turn off the reader.  Working with an indie editor is quite different than working with a big editing company.  When indie editors and writers work together, there’s much more leeway in how the process proceeds.

What is the number 1 (or is it #1?) common mistake that drives you crazy?
That would have to be sentences that are overly descriptive.  Many writers tend to spell out every single little move the characters make.  (For example:  She held me tightly in her arms/blinked her eyes/nodded her head/)  Readers already know that arms, eyes, and a head are needed for those actions. It’s not necessary to write it. She held me/she blinked/she nodded….It works just fine. When it comes to writing, less is usually better.

If I submit my novel to you for editing, what happens next?  Please take me through the process.
The first step is to submit a 750-1000 word sample for a free edit. This can be done from my website using a link provided on the Rates page. I will edit your sample and return it to you so you can see what my editing looks like before you hire me. It also gives me a chance to evaluate your writing, which assists me in determining the amount of time it will take to do a complete edit.  If you decide to hire me, we negotiate the terms, sign a contract, and go from there.

What else would you like our members to know?
I think it’s important to let everyone know that I take great pride in what I do. It’s important that you find an editor you trust, whose style is in sync with yours. That’s why I offer the free sample edit. I communicate quickly and often via email, so you never have to worry about hearing back from me if you have questions and concerns.  

Please provide links to your website, blog or other contact information you'd like us to have.  My website has tons of information about me and what I do. (I love to travel, so check out my pics while you’re there!)
Twitter: @hughesedits4u

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