Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Behinds the Scenes of a Publishing House

Interview with an Editor

Welcome to the latest in this successful series of blog posts and to Lucy Felthouse, who works with Tirgearr Publishing, as well as on a freelance basis. I am delighted to have you on my blog.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, how long you have been working as an editor and what made you take up this profession?

Thanks so much for having me on, Jennifer. I’m from Derbyshire in England, and I eat, sleep and breathe books. Seriously! I’m pretty much always either reading, writing, editing or marketing books… how cool is that? All of those various tasks make up my full-time job, so needless to say I’m kept very busy J

I’ve been working as an editor since I became self-employed five years ago, and have been working with Tirgearr Publishing for around two years.

What is the thing you most enjoy about being an editor and what is the most difficult?

I love working with authors to make their book the absolute best it can be, to really make it shine. And it makes me proud to see those authors getting fantastic reviews for their work.

The worst part is when I do “first reads” of books and have to reject them. Fortunately for me, the publisher sends the actual rejection email, but it doesn’t feel good when I read a book and can’t recommend it for publication.

If you can say, what has been your favourite book to edit or the one you were most proud of because it was from a new author, for instance?

I’ve edited so many books now that it’s hard to remember them all in any detail, so I’ll go with my most recent favourite. Outcast by Dianne Noble ( is a fantastic read about a woman working with Untouchables in India.

It’s not really like anything I’ve read before—I just found it utterly gripping and heart-rending, and even after going through it several times during edits, I didn’t get bored of it—which has to be a good thing! I don’t want to say too much more and give the plot away, but if you’re looking for a page-turner of a read that’ll pluck at those heartstrings, it’s definitely worth checking out.
(Will look out for it! JD)

One thing I am intrigued about, how are editors paid for their work? Is it by the number of words in a story or the amount of time they spend on it?

It varies. For my freelance work, I charge by the number of words in the manuscript. For my work with Tirgearr, we have another payment plan worked out.

If the number of words, then how do you deal with those times when there is a lot more work in a story than you anticipated (or does it even out with the times that you may have little to do on a story?)

In my freelance work, for the most part I’m working with established authors, so I know already they have the skill and the talent. I’m just an extra pair of eyes to pick out inconsistencies and clean things up. They don’t generally need major rewrites or overhauls or anything like that. If I was working with someone new, I would ask to see a sample of their manuscript first, and I should be able to tell from that if it would be a problem.

What are the biggest things that authors get wrong consistently?

I think each author (myself included!) have their own habits. Some authors write fantastic stories, but aren’t so great with punctuation. Others, without even realising it, repeat lots of the same words throughout. This is why having an editor is important—for the most part, authors don’t see their own errors (again, myself included!) or repetitions, or they know what they mean when they’re saying something, so don’t recognise it might not be clear to the reader. It’s all about a fresh pair of eyes that belong to someone that’s a stickler for correctness and readability ;)
(I think the biggest mistake I hear from new authors is that they had head hopped in their debut novels. Me included! JD)

Do you find it difficult to proof read/edit a genre you don’t particularly enjoy or does it make it easier as you are not getting carried away in the story?

Fortunately for me, this is not an issue. With Tirgearr, there is a pool of submissions and the editors can choose which books appeal to them. Between us, we seem to cover all genres that come in. For example, I don’t like sci-fi books, so would never choose to edit one, but a couple of the other editors are happy to work on those. So it all comes right in the end.
(Oh wow! I didn’t know editors got to choose which books appealed to them. I just presumed the got sent them by the publisher! JD)

For freelance work, it tends to be romance, erotic romance and erotica authors that come to me for edits, so that’s not a problem at all.

Have you ever considered writing a story yourself? If so, what genre would you write in?

I’ve been writing erotica and erotic romance now for over a decade, and have over 140 publications to my name J
(Good Lord, woman! When do you have time to eat? LOL. But seriously, congratulations. JD)

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I would really like to have more full-length novels under my belt by then. Other than that I think I’ll still be typing away, whether I’m writing, editing or marketing. Or, you never know, one of my books might have hit the big-time, giving me the opportunity to write full-time. ;)

What are your top five tips to authors?

1.   Read submission guidelines carefully—they’re there for a reason. Be sure to give yourself the best possible chance by following the rules.

2.   Learn to edit your own work as much as possible—identify words and phrases you repeat a lot, write them down in a notebook, then use that notebook when your book is finished to try and eliminate some of your repetitions.

3.   Read widely in your chosen genre.

4.   Write what you love—your enthusiasm will shine through in your words.

5.   Be savvy with contracts. It’s easy to get overexcited and sign any old contract, but it’s okay to ask other authors about their experience with publishing houses, and make sure there are no issues before signing.
(Terrific tips. Thank you. JD)

Thank you, Lucy. It has been fabulous interviewing you. Good luck. Do check out the other posts in this series.