Lacey: To start off, tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been editing.
Tara: I’ve been editing for a little over a year. I started as a writer and discovered that thanks to having had a great editor myself, a knack for English and literature, and my prior years as a book reviewer, I made a pretty decent editor, and I like the job. I love to read, so what could be better?
I’m an author who dabbles in just about everything. I’m a book reviewer, and I run a blog called Book Babe. I am married with canine kids.
Lacey: Is there a common mistake you find in most of the stories you edit?
Tara: Oh yes. Let’s see. Eyes, eyes, eyes everywhere. And lots of THATS. It’s an unnecessary word half the time. Breathing. You breath 24/7, so why it’s used as a dialogue tag is beyond me.
Lacey: Some words simply aren’t needed when we write and sometimes we tend to over use the words. Can you give us a few of the words to look for as we read through finished stories before turning them in? You know, to make our editor’s life easier.
Tara: THAT’S and OFS. In today’s lingo, it’s not necessary to say, “Get off of me.”
“Get of me” works just as well.
“I said that I loved her.”
“I said I loved her.”
I also see some authors overusing passive voice...such as sentences beginning with ING words.
Lacey: What amount of editing should an author do before submitting their work? As in, a basic spelling and grammar check in word? Or something a little more complex.
Tara: You can’t expect a first-time author to know much of anything, so I’m pretty patient with them and don’t have a lot of high expectations. I do advise any author submitting a book to closely read the publisher submission guidelines though. If you can’t pay attention to that and follow directions, chances are, you’re going to be a difficult author to work with.
NOW, if you want to talk about an author that has five, six, seven books behind their name, I have high expectations. After working with you on five books, I expect them to know what a head hop is, how to do a dialogue tag, etc.
After five books with me, if you’re still handing me this:
“I want to go too.” She said. OR Placing the cup down, he turned to look at her, “I like that idea.”
I’m going to be pretty PO’d editor.
Lacey: Now, listen up authors, I’ve got a good question for Tara. What is your biggest pet peeve that authors do and you’re always having to correct?
Tara: Dialogue tags! Urgh!
Lacey: What makes a story great in your opinion?
Tara: I think it’s really important that readers LIKE your characters. If they don’t like your characters at all, they aren’t going to care about them or what happens to them. The best way to engage a reader is with characters they can relate to. Oh, the story and plot is important too, but first step: create likable people. We don’t want to read about assholes. We get that in our everyday life. ;)
Lacey: By day you’re an editor and by night you’re an author. You’ve had the pleasure of working as an author with publishing houses as well as the self-publishing route. For an author who is looking to self publish, any tips on what they need to look for in an editor and questions to ask before the editor and author embark on a relationship together?
Tara: Quit worrying about prices. Yes, money is tight, but you get what you pay for. There are a lot of editors out there charging pennies and they are making nothing...this means their workload is toppling. Lots of work because they’re cheap, but because they’re cheap, they have to take more of it. Your book isn’t going to get the attention it deserves. So while I’m not saying not to take advantage of a good deal if it comes, be careful. Don’t make price your number-one factor.
Lacey: Any advice you would like to give to un-published, or even published authors?
Tara: Get your work edited before you seek an agent. If you don’t do the agent route, do get a beta reader to read your MS before you submit it. DO shop around and research publishers. I’m seeing an alarming trend in the industry. People are just so desperate to have their names on books they don’t even care if the publisher who offers them a contract has the crappiest reputation in the business. Check places like Absolute Write or Piers Anthony and don’t get in a hurry.
Because once the excitement settles down...once you’ve been sitting there waiting 8 months and haven’t seen a dime, you’re going to want that book back.
So calm down, think clearly, and don’t just get obsessed with having your name on a book. Think long-term.
Find out more about Tara on her website, as well as her prices for editing.