Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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

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.

This is part two of a 2-part interview with the editor. Read part one.
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The Interview, Part Two
MK: I’ve learned through trial and error that a book isn’t ready to send to the editor just because the first draft is complete. What do you see as the most common thing authors forget to do before sending their manuscript to the editor?

LW: Many authors tend to use “being” verbs in their writing (am, is, are, was, and were). Although they are sometimes necessary (and can be used when writing dialogue), many being verbs should be replaced with action verbs to give a sentence energy and to create an active rather than passive voice.

“No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.”

- H.G. Wells

MK: A good editor can proofread a manuscript to make sure there are no grammatical errors. A great editor does so much more. How involved do you become with your editing projects?

LW: I become totally immersed in every editing project I work on. An author and I decide which level of editing is appropriate for the manuscript. Proofreading identifies grammar, punctuation, spelling, and typographical errors, as well as formatting inconsistencies. Basic copyediting includes proofreading, but in addition, it covers content continuity, correct and effective word usage, and clarity of concepts. Heavier editing includes basic copyediting, as well as analyzing character and plot development, narrative flow, shifts in point of view, and organizational structure.

MK: I think an author likes to know what resources editors use. Do you have a specific editing style?  Which resources are particularly helpful to your area of editing?

LW: Depending on an author’s genre, I reference a number of style guides including the Chicago Manual of Style, Associated Press Stylebook, and The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

I will also follow a personal or corporate style guide and dictionary, based on requests from an author or corporation. 

“I have never written more than a dozen pieces that I thought could not have been improved. Most writers who are any good have this belief about their work.”

-James Thurber
MK: Even the greatest books, by the greatest authors, can be improved upon. The process would never end if we didn't end it at some point. How do you know when to let a manuscript go back to the author for publication or submission to the publisher? 

LW: For every editing pass made, there will always be something to fix. Usually, the author and I decide together that it's time to "let it go." When fewer and fewer errors are found after each editing pass, the mutual decision to stop becomes easier. 

MK:  You offer a sample edit (which is what hooked me). Will you tell us about that process?  

LW: Authors can determine if I am the right editor for them when I edit something familiar—their own writing. It is a tough sell to convince authors that their “baby” can be improved and I’m not the enemy. The money invested in creating a professionally edited book will reap returns for the life of the book. My sample edits usually convince authors that I am working for them—the changes enhance the book and create a professionally-polished product that still reflects their voice and vision.

A free sample edit, which includes editing approximately two pages, helps me determine the level of editing required and establishes a basis for developing a price quote.

“Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.”

 - Bernard Malamud

MK: Self-published authors usually can’t set a firm release date until they hear back from an editor, which can be inconvenient. How long can an author expect the editing process to generally take?

LW: The editing process can take two weeks to several months, depending on the size and complexity of the book. Other considerations affecting a release date are the author’s availability to work on revisions, as well as the editor’s workload. With traditional publishers, the time period between editing and the release date is longer.

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


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