Joys, Fears, and Frustrations of Being an Editor by Danita Moon

Joys, Fears, and Frustrations of Being an EditorBy Danita Moon

 

​I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. When I read, things that may be incorrect have always popped out at me. I make a note of what I find and then go back to see if there was an actual problem, whether it be an incorrect character name, character description or timeline issue. It’s hard for me to finish a book if I find that there are many typos or spelling errors. I’ve always asked myself what it would be like to be an editor. Would I enjoy it? What would it be like to work with authors?

​I started working with New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak as her assistant a little over two years ago. I’ve learned a lot from her about the process of writing and editing. So I decided to start proofreading manuscripts, but when I saw what others were charging, I was afraid I wouldn’t get any business because I wouldn’t charge a competitive enough rate. Most were charging so much per word, but I couldn’t see doing that as most authors are now self-publishing. I decided I was just going to charge a flat rate for a manuscript, but because I wasn’t familiar enough with grammar and sentence structure I limit my editing to everything but that.

​The frustrating part is when you are reading a story and see something that just doesn’t make sense. You try to explain that from a reader’s point of view, but it is written from a whole other perspective. I do understand that there is a structure in which a book is to be written and format that it must follow, but I just get a little frustrated when it doesn’t make sense or it isn’t consistent with another area of the story.

​When I first started proofreading or making suggestions to an author, I was fearful of how they would take what I was saying. I mean, here I am, just a reader pointing out something that they spent months writing, and they are the professional, but I eventually realized that it takes several eyes to make a book successful.

​To help in the editing process I took a course to become a certified proofreader and copy editor which I completed last year.

​The editing I do isn’t what I call a standard proofreading service. I’m very detail-oriented and a perfectionist, so when I work on a project, I do a line-by-line edit. If the book is part of a series, then I will research the other books in the series to make sure everything is consistent. This is the author’s life work, and they depend on those who read their drafts to help them polish the manuscript.

​The one thing I’ve learned in my adventures in proofreading is that you can’t catch all errors. It took me awhile to get used to that fact and is still a huge frustration.

​The major joy of being an editor is the fact that I’m a part of such a magical world. These authors have a craft that very few have. They weave stories that draw so many of us in and take us to places that we can only dream about. To be a part of the process that gets these books out to the reader in as perfect a format as possible is a magnificent feeling.

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Author Interview with John Sibley Williams 

Author Interview with John Sibley Williams 



 

Me: How does it feel to be a five-time Pushcart nominee? What were your thoughts?

I am honored to know so many magazines and presses believe in my work. It’s always a bit of a shock, but the joy never diminishes.

Me: After reading Disinheritance, a collection your poetry in one brilliant book, what inspired each piece? Or inspired you to write the poems?


Disinheritance was inspired by a few pivotal moments that occurred within a few months of each other, namely the illness and passing of my mother, a terrible miscarriage, and my wife and I’s struggles to move forward and redefine the landscape of “family”. To explore grief more fully in this collection, I adopted various unique voices, like those of our miscarried child, the hypothetical boy he might have grown up to be, my mother in her last moments, and my wife as she struggled to cope.
 

So Disinheritance shows a far more personal side than most of my poetry, though I hope the poems speak to larger, universal human concerns about how we approach mortality and what roles we play in each other’s’ lives.

Me: I noticed that you have written several other anthologies. Can you share with us, readers, what the titles are of those anthologies?


Sure. My other full length collection is Controlled Hallucinations. It was published in 2013 by FutureCycle Press. Before that, I had a number of chapbooks published through various presses.

Me: Is it difficult to put an anthology of poems together?



Absolutely. I have always struggled with organizing my poetry collections. Which poems should be included? Which cut? How to organize them to create a feeling of cohesiveness? Are there poems you love, perhaps that have even won awards, that simply don’t match the themes of the collection as a whole? Most collections go through a series of revisions before reaching a point where the poet feels comfortable submitting them to publishers. And if enough publishers reject it, the question becomes: what have I done wrong? What can I revise to strengthen it?

Me: Using three words, how would you describe your most recent anthology of poetry, Disinheritance?



Lyrical. Heart-breaking. Honest.

Me: Would you highly recommend writers to submit their works to places to win awards?

That’s a good question. I’ve read numerous articles about the pros and cons of submitting to awards, and both arguments make valid points. For example, it’s true that awards can be costly (often between $10 and $30 per submission), and these costs can add up quickly. It’s also true that any poem or book is up against hundreds (or thousands) of others, so competition is fierce. However, if you win or are nominated for an award, that does carry significant weight; award-winning authors tend to be taken more seriously by publishers and readers, and, of course, most awards carry substantial cash prizes. So it’s a mixed bag.

 My recommendation for emerging poets and writers is to hone your craft before spending money on contests. Submit first to magazines and acquire a number of notable publications. Once enough editors have shown interest in your work, then perhaps it is contest-worthy. That is not to say new authors without publication experience aren’t amazingly talented. But, as writers, we tend to have a skewed opinion of our own work. I’ve been submitting to contests for most of my writing life, winning one or two a year at most. Those years, I spent far more on submissions than I made back on prize money. Only recently have I consistently won enough awards to financially warrant the expense. However, it’s not about finances. The bottom line is not money so much as exposure. If you love your work and have spent decades honing it, in the end, I would argue it’s worth the time, effort, and expense to submit to contests.

Me: You have won several awards and credits. How does this affect your job as an editor?



I’m not sure if my own accolades, or those of my co-editor, per se affect our editorial work. Hopefully it gives authors who submit to our magazine some confidence in our ability to select powerful poetry, but many of our published authors have similar awards and credentials. 

Me: Out of all of your poems, which three are your top favorite?




I honestly can’t say which of all my poems resonate the strongest with me, but in Disinheritance the three poems that still make me tremble when I read them are “I Go to the Ruined Place,” “Teething,” and “A Dead Boy Speaks to His Parents.” 

Me: When did you first begin to write poetry? 



I’m lucky to have been passionate about books since childhood. Perhaps it’s in part due to my mother reading novel after novel over her pregnant belly every day. Perhaps it’s in part due to my own restlessness, my need to make things, and my love of words. But I began writing short stories in middle school, and I continued in that genre until my early twenties. A handful of those stories found publication in literary magazines, which was eye-opening and oddly humbling.

 I was 21 when I wrote my first poem. Before that, I had never enjoyed reading poetry and had certainly never considered writing one. It was summer in New York and I was sitting by a lake with my feet dragging through the current caused by small boats when suddenly, without my knowing what I was doing, I began writing something that obviously wasn’t a story. What was it? Impressions. Colors. Emotions. Strange images. I didn’t have any paper, so I used a marker to write a series of phrases on my arm. Then they poured onto my leg. Then I realized I needed paper. I ran back to the car, took out a little notebook, and spent hours emptying myself of visions and fears and joys I don’t think I even knew I had. That was 17 years ago. Since that surreal and confusing moment by that little city lake, I’ve written poetry almost every day.

Me: What was the first award you won for your outstanding writing skills?



Gosh, it was so long ago that I must apologize if I get the details incorrect. But I believe the first time my work was honored with an award was about twenty years ago, when I was eighteen-years-old. One of my prose pieces won Best Short Story in the undergraduate magazine Voices. I still remember the shock and honor of discovering something I created actually resonated with strangers. I hope I never forget that feeling.

Me: Do you have any works in progress at the moment, if so, can you share it with us, readers?


I have two upcoming collections, both quite different in styles and purpose. I recently completed a chapbook titled Skin Memory, which combines free verse and prose poetry to explore human connects and disconnects as they relate to culture and family. The other project, which I’m currently working on, is titled Road to the Sky.

Me: What tips would you share with other poets?




There’s a reason “keep writing, keep reading” has become clichéd advice for emerging writers; it’s absolutely true. You need to study as many books as possible from authors of various genres and from various countries. Listen to their voices. Watch how they manipulate and celebrate language. Delve deep into their themes and characters and take notes on the stylistic, structural, and linguistic tools they employ. And never, ever stop writing. Write every free moment you have. Bring a notebook and pen everywhere you go (and I mean everywhere). It’s okay if you’re only taking notes. Notes are critical. It’s okay if that first book doesn’t find a publisher. There will be more books to come. And it’s okay if those first poems aren’t all that great. You have a lifetime to grow as a writer.

 Do we write to be cool, to be popular, to make money? We write because we have to, because we love crafting stories and poems, because stringing words together into meaning is one of life’s true joys. So rejections are par for the course. Writing poems or stories that just aren’t as strong as they could be is par for the course. But we must all retain that burning passion for language and storytelling. That flame is what keeps us maturing as writers.

Me: Where can readers find you and your work online?



Thanks so much for asking. All my books are available via the usual online shops and in plenty of independent bookstores, though I have far more information, including newly published poems, on my website: https://johnsibleywilliams.wordpress.com.

Have You Ever Wondered..

Have You Ever Wondered…

What it would be like to a book reviewer? Or an author? Or an editor? Or just an article writer?

Well… I can definitely say that the have many same traits. One being that they all have to learn how to write well. Why is writing well is so important? Because it is the very first fundamental that all writers need to learn before moving onto the second step.

What do writers need to learn in order to write well? First, they need to learn grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage.

Where does one acquire these must need skills? In school.  Or you can take a free English course that covers all the above on sites such as Alison, Coursera, Canvas, and Udemy.  Or take classes from Universal Class. Their courses are structured to teach you what you need to know. Plus, you get a certificate with documented CEU’s.  Which of course helps build up your resume! 🙂

Now, what is the second step? After learning the basics in a free or paid course writers, then move onto interning.

Why should writers apply or an internship? Because internships help build a writer’s reputation, connections, and teaches them hands-on what the ins and outs are in writing.  Some internships pay the intern and some don’t. But, I highly recommend that you complete at least two non-paying internships to build up experience, which is what you will need for a paying internship. Then apply or one that pays you while doing what you love to do!

Next, after completing several internships under your belt you now have the experiences, tools, and connections to  continue onto the third step!

If you are wanting to become an author, there are many tools out there to help you grow your full potential. Kindle Direct Publishing is a free service that allows authors to publish their work as eBooks. eBooks are the most popular reading format that readers choose. Why? Because they are easy to access everywhere and on the go! They also cost less and save the trees. Plus, they can be bought from literally every bookstore that exists today.

– It is very important that every writer is an active reader. Read, read, and read! Reading helps writers improve their thought process.

– Another thing all writers should do is practice writing. Write every day. Whether short or long. Practice, practice, and practice writing! The only way to perfect one’s writing.

These two important reminders are the sole keys or every writer whether he or she wants to become an article writer, author, blogger, book reviewer, or an editor.

What is a writer’s schedule like? A book reviewer’s, an author’s, and an article writer’s schedule is chaotic. There are always deadlines popping up that need to be finished. There are always more books to review. There are tons of articles that are 500 words in length that need to be written daily for companies’ websites. And the pressure or an author to complete his or her book is tough. Writer’s block can happen halfway through a book. So, being a writer in any field requires the utmost patience!

Book reviewer’s job: Requires that the reviewer can at least review two novels a week. Most book reviews are 300-500 words in length. A book review consists of two paragraphs. The first paragraph needs to be about the books. A brief summary o what it was like without giving away too much of the plot. Also, need to mention the author, the writing style, characters, plot, setting, the targeted audience and would you recommend it to others. The second paragraph is made up solely on your opinions of the book. What did you think o it? What could have improved the book to make it better? What did you like and not like about the book?

Article Writer: An article writer’s job is to follow all terms on what each article is to be about, how it should be formatted, and what type of article needs to be written. Whether it’s a promotion of a product, educational, or informative. Each article is anywhere from 150-500 words each. Most article writers are required to write 10 five hundred word articles each week! All articles are can be a variety of weird topics. For example dog beds.  Try writing an informative article using 500 words on the topic of dog beds. And no plagiarism! Article writers have to do a ton of research on each and every topic they are given. Being an article writer is not the easiest job.

Another poem written by me!

your words portray the human heart,

your works are amazing pieces of art,

a poet, a reviewer, and an editor are all your part,

and hopefully as my friend you will never depart.

you have surely beaten me,
 but know happiness is yours forever be,
and of you, I’m am surely proud,
to announce very loud,
your poems float to heaven realms on a cloud.