Welcome to our Spotlight On week here at the Daily Dose. Last month, I had the great good fortune to interview several book reviewers. I learned a lot from those interviews. This month, we're going to talk to book editors, line editors, copy editors and even a publisher. I asked the questions I wanted to know the answers to and I learned a lot from these fabulous people.
Spotlight On is about learning more about books, publishing and process. Today, we shine the spotlight on Darla Grant from Sapphire Blue Publishing! I am a bit biased about Darla, she was my line editor on Remembering Ashby and the experience was fantastic. I learned a lot from the process of editing with her. So it's my great pleasure to introduce Darla as our first spotlight on this week. Without further ado, allow me to introduce editor: Darla Grant.
Tell us more about yourself. As an author, I love learning new and interesting things about an editor.
Hmmm...about me...I can quote every line from the original Star Wars trilogy, I love Disneyland so much that I want to marry it, and if Harry Potter was living being, he'd be my best friend. Is that too much sharing, yet? I was an early reader and never put the book down. In junior high school, I ran from class to class to get seated early so that I could get five more minutes of reading from my latest book. I like to think of myself as a well rounded person (no fat jokes please). I can carry on a discussion about JR Ward's vampire universe, quote Shakespeare, and remember useless movie trivia at the drop of a hat--I don't know which of those things I am proud of most. I like to learn and like to surround myself with people who value learning. At the end of the day, all I need is a good red wine, a great book, and the company of my loved ones to make me happy.
If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?
Read for fun. I haven't read the new Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jessica Andersen, Lora Leigh, or Christina Dodd. Why not?
Are you an author turned editor?
Kind of. I authored my Master's thesis: Masquing Revenge: The Court Masque As A Genre For Containment In Early Modern Revenge Tragedy. As for creative and fiction writing, I wish I was that talented.
When did you edit your first book?
Why editing? We often ask other authors what made you start writing, as a book editor, what made you start editing?
Why wouldn't you want to get paid to read books for a living? I don't have the creativity or the muse to write. This is the next best thing. I can be a part of the writing process without being an author.
Share a little bit about the process you go through with an author for line edits?
It's really different for every author and every book. On the first edits, I usually do an inital read through noting anything that's a story conflict or interruption. Then, I read it again looking for stylistic and mechanical areas of improvment. Depending upon how responsive the author is and the quality of the edits, we can go 2 to 20 rounds of edits! No, I've never gone 20 rounds. I find that it's important to explain to authors why I suggest a change. This way the author doesn't think I am making preferential changes to their manuscript, and they learn for next time
Copy editing is different from line editing, but do you develop the same rapport with a writer?
I don't have a lot of interaction with the author during the copy edit process. The book is usually sent to me from the line or executive editor, and so I don't have the chance to create that relationship. I think copy edits run the risk of a harsh rapport for that reason. It's harder to explain grammatical changes, and authors don't know who I am so they aren't as invested in taking my advice. I have never had a bad copy edit experience, though, so I don't really have a scenario with which to judge.
How can you as an editor help a writer achieve their creative vision?
This is done by challenging an author and forcing them out of their comfort zone. Trust me, this is not easy to do. We are all more "comfortable" in our comfort zone for a reason. Pushing someone to write in a new way or take a story arc in a different direction is quite a task but one that I've found rewarding for all involved.
Is it difficult to not interject your own vision on what the author is doing? How do you walk that fine line?
It's not really a vision that I have trouble forcing. I don't have a vision of an author's work--that comes from them. The problem that I have is preventing myself from automatically re-structuring sentences and changing word use and metaphors. My background is in those areas so I can clearly see how to change an awkward sentence or missed metaphor. It's hard sometimes to make the suggestion for revision rather than just make the change.
From my own personal experience, I would say my editor labored lovingly to help produce a better work, do you feel a kinship with each piece you edit?
Absolutely! Every book is mine. I show family and friends online at www.sapphirebluepublishing.com the covers for all of "my" books when they release. I am especially drawn to the books where the author and I had a great collaborative experience. When we take a good story and make it great together, that's the best part (especially if it involves hunky heroes in kilts!).
What is the best part of editing others?
Helping them to realize their potential and teaching them something new that might help sell the next book.
What is your pet peeve when you're editing?
Really, I think it's an author who is too close to their work. Don't misunderstand, all editors know that authors have a profound connection to their work. However, publishing is a business, too. Unfortunately, editors might make suggestions about an author's book to add or remove elements that are not likely to sell or to appeal to readers. Some authors are so close to their stories that they have a hard time letting go enough to understand that the editor's job is to make their book better and salable. It's not to destroy the story or their creative process. So, you could say that my peeve is the author that fights the change when it's in their best interest not to fight.
Finally, What is the best piece of advice you can offer an author or aspiring author about the author/editor relationship?
Remember that the editor is also a reader. When your editor points out items for revision, it's not to be mean or to interrupt their vision. It's likely because the reader in us notices something that could help the story. Also, this is the editor's job. We are paid to find the flaws and fix them. This helps everyone and should be approached in an open, inqiring manner.
Please add a blurb for your company, your own work, whatever you'd like so I can be sure to share it.
I have been editing with Sapphire Blue Publishing for a year. In that time, I have been fortunate to work with a host of fantastic authors. We make it our goal to publish high quality books from the story to the edits to the cover art. I think our work speaks for itself in the great reviews that our authors continue to earn. Personally, I feel very fortunate to be able to work in such an exciting and rewarding business.
Thank you to Darla for taking the time to answer our questions! Please feel free to post any questions or comments you have for her and come back tomorrow for our next Spotlight On.