Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In Good Hands: An Interview with Sr. Editor Lorraine Fico-White, Part One

"Teamwork can be summed up in five short words. We believe in each other." 
-Author Unknown
I am heading into my third year of self-publishing under my own imprint, and as with many indie authors, the process of writing, editing, and publishing is an intense and extensive process. The first two years consisted of long nights at the computer, red pens on manuscripts, and many lessons learned. What do I have to show for it? Six successful books, the confidence to write more, and the joy knowing I'm doing what I've always wanted to do. Fortunately, I didn't have to do it alone. 

Words typed on a page does not a book or author make. I learned in the school of experience, that no matter how talented or how skilled, no writer can accomplish success on their own. I'm fortunate enough to have a wonderful editor who has not only taught me invaluable lessons, but who has made each and every step of editing a joy (yes, even the frustrating steps). 

In the last year, I have added to my team, and will add more hard-working and skilled team members in the future, but my editor has been with me since the beginning: teaching, encouraging, and helping me to put out the very best versions of my books.

Today it is my pleasure to welcome back Lorraine Fico-White, Founder and Sr. Editor at Magnifico Manuscripts, and now Sr. Editor at Potterton House Author Services.


The Interview, Part One

MK: What set you on the path to become an editor?

LW: I have always been an avid reader and could easily find errors in punctuation, grammar, and plot/character development. I would take notes and create charts to ensure all issues were resolved in a novel “just for fun.” (Yes, I’m a book nerd!) While reading a book by a local author, I found so many errors that I contacted her. After reviewing my sample edit of her published book, she hired me, and my career as an editor began. 

MK: Speaking to budding authors, why should they hire a professional editor rather than attempting it on their own? Don’t traditional publishers have editors?

LW: Agents and publishers are flooded with submissions on a daily basis. If they detect simple punctuation and grammar errors, they will reject a manuscript without reading it. Although traditional publishers have editors, an author needs the submission to be a clean, polished manuscript that will stand out from the rest.

It is almost impossible for authors to proofread their own work without error. Having friends and family edit a book or document is a great way to obtain multiple viewpoints. However, they often are not looking at the writing with an objective eye. A professional editor reviews work objectively without pre-conceived biases or ideas.

MK:  Author personalities can be as varied as the genres in which they write. As an editor, do you find working with such a variety of personalities difficult or interesting? How do you work through the challenges?

LW: I enjoy the diversity of my clients. The editing process is detailed and meticulous, so working with various personalities keeps the work interesting and fun. Meeting new people takes me in different directions and broadens my life experiences.

"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke."

-Arthur Plotnik
MK: Stubbornness is one of my many charming qualities (smiling), and one which you handle surprisingly well. It can take me a little time to come around to an idea, but you show remarkable patience. Authors aren’t necessarily a patient lot—do you find it difficult, or is it just part of the job?

LW: Because I understand that it is sometimes difficult to hear constructive criticism, I give an author his/her space to think about a revision. Since a book is an extension of an author, I respect an author’s creativity and pride. As in all edits, the ultimate decision to make any changes is with the author.

MK: I’ve discovered that personality is only part of what matters. What else should an author look for in a long-term editor-author relationship? Do you look for certain qualities in an author before committing to work with them long-term?
LW: A strong and effective working relationship between an author and editor is critical to the success of any project. I will not change an author’s voice, style, or story. Instead, I offer an experienced perspective and respect an author’s work and decisions.

I don’t actively look for certain qualities in an author—it becomes evident as the editing progresses whether or not the partnership will be successful for future projects.

MK: What joys do you derive from working with authors?

LW: I enjoy the constant interaction with authors as we work on the edits together. The editing process is intense and tedious, but a sense of humor makes the process fun. I also find it satisfying to help authors improve their work.
I am genuinely excited when a book is published and am proud of an author’s success. Helping whenever I can with marketing and networking, I remain in contact with an author as his/her journey continues. The best part of my job is the friendships I make.

"There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them." 

– Elie Wiesel  
MK: You’re not just an editor of fiction. Tell us something about what else you’ve worked on. Do you find it difficult to move back and forth?

LW: Along with appreciating a diverse clientele, I enjoy editing different types of projects. In addition to fiction books, I’ve edited nonfiction books, memoirs, medical books, inspirational journals, coauthored books, and poetry. I also work with several local and national businesses in editing brochures, business correspondence, e-magazines, reports, and textbooks.

A variety of skillsets is needed for different projects—fiction editing requires some creativity, while nonfiction and business editing require discipline. However, all editing is basically the same—a detail-oriented, meticulous approach to eliminate errors and maintain consistency. 
Thank you Lorraine, for taking the time to visit with us. If authors would like to know more, or to ask Lorraine a question, please visit her at the websites below.
This is part one of a 2-part interview. Part two will be posted next week. 

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This interview has been updated from the original version posted in 2012.  

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