A few weeks back I wrote a post called The Army Behind the Writer. Scores of people from beta readers, critique partners and editors work hard to help knock each book into shape. With that in mind, I decided I wanted to hear from one of these people.
Editors spend a huge amount of time reading a huge amount of books, it’s what they do. For this blog post we hear from Kate Foster, editor of all genres (and editor of Fractured Immortal!). A writer herself, Kate is aware of the trials and tribulations writers face. As well as writing and editing, Kate also dedicates her time to Freshly Squeezed as an Industry Pro where she helps to run a first page competition.
1. How to you approach that first edit?
I always always read the book first. I send it to my Kindle and pretend it’s a book I’ve bought online. That way I get to enjoy the story, but also to trust my first instinctive reactions to the book; the writing style, the flow, the structure, etc. There’s no pressure that way, just me and the book getting to know each other.
2. Do you have a preferred genre?
Not at all. I love all books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s and adults, crime and romance. Being an editor allows me the beauty and privilege of reading books I ordinarily wouldn’t select from a bookstore when I’m spine shopping.
3. Editing seems a painstaking process that requires intense concentration, do you use anything to help you concentrate?
Not really. I’m a seriously self-motivated person. The only thing I have to do is have regular breaks from the laptop so my eyes and brain can refocus; a circuit of the garden with the dog, make a cup of tea or something to eat, tidy one of my kid’s bedrooms, etc. Things get in the way, I do get distracted, but I care about the books and authors I work with, so it becomes a natural priority.
4. What are the main mistakes that seem to crop up over and over across lots of manuscripts?
Apart from the usual too much telling, not enough showing, overloading of back story is the main issue I see. Whether it’s in the narrative or via dialogue, it’s definitely a comfort blanket most authors wrap their manuscripts in. It’s the hardest part, in my opinion as a writer as well, to find the perfect balance. It always comes down to believing in and trusting your readers. Throw in a back story snippet or clue through a character’s thought or action.
5. What, do you feel, makes a good book?
So many things. I think that’s an impossible question to answer, in all honesty, like how long is a piece of string. But I believe all brilliant stories are told with passion, where every twist, character and sentence has been created with emotion, love, pride and attention. And this feeds into the reader. It’s not something tangible that can be described because it’s magic, shared pieces of soul.
Thank you, Kate for answering my questions.