“Interview with Professional Copy Editor, Beth Crosby” by Joan Y. Edwards
Professional copy editor Beth Crosby empowers female entrepreneurs to reach their ideal clients through storytelling. She helps them mine and write about their unique experiences, education, and abilities.
Welcome, Beth Crosby. Thank you for coming. I am excited to have you here with us today. My readers and I will learn a lot and enjoy every minute of our time with you.
“Thank you for inviting me, Joan. I can’t wait to get started.”
“That sounds good. Let’s begin.”
A. Where were you born?
B. Did you enjoy school? Why?
I enjoyed school because I am curious by nature.
My grandmother was instrumental in teaching me grammar and punctuation, and I enjoyed reading and learning. My seventh-grade language arts teacher, Mrs. English, secured my love for language. (Her name really was Mrs. Elizabeth English!)
I continued to enjoy learning and considered becoming a perpetual student several times, but the call to journalism won after I earned my degree.
C. What is your favorite hobby now?
When I have time, I enjoy reading southern and women’s fiction.
D. Where do you like to read?
When the days allow, I enjoy reading outside. Communing with nature while reading is a perfect day to me!
A friend got me a pillow that says “Reserved for Beth and her Book,” so the couch is my second comfy spot to read.
E. How did you get started editing?
As I mentioned, my grandmother excelled in English, and she taught me grammar rules early.
A high school English teacher failed any student who erred with a sentence fragment. While I was not in her class, she instilled in me the importance of accuracy.
In college, students took copy editing as a junior or senior. Unlike most students, I excelled in editing and pursued it as a career.
F. What genres do you like to read? Why?
I don’t mind reading for research, but because a good portion of my day includes nonfiction reading, I prefer fiction when reading for myself. Sometimes I need a break from input, and fiction lets me simply enjoy the story.
An added benefit of reading well-written fiction is the example of exceptional writing. Even nonfiction can evoke emotional responses and paint vivid pictures if the author has the desire and skill to draw readers into the story.
G. Which are your favorite genres to edit? Why?
Editing short-form nonfiction is my favorite.
I work with women who tell their stories through articles and posts to build rapport with their ideal clients. These are my favorite editing pieces because I support women through asking questions and helping each individual mine her experiences for reasons she is ideally suited for her field. In addition, I edit the writing so my clients deliver clear, concise, correct, and consistent pieces to their targeted client group.
I get to see every client grow and accept herself, appreciating how her unique experience, knowledge, and expertise make her the ideal person to provide a specific service or write a particular work.
Often, blogs and articles can be combined to prepare a book, making the author an expert to many. I edit those as well.
H. How can authors find the right editor for their manuscript?
Most important, an author needs to see what kind of manuscripts an editor accepts.
- Look on the copyright page of books like yours to see if an author is mentioned. Often, Amazon lists the editor.
- Consider visiting sites such as ACES: The Society for Editing to find professional editors.
- Ensure the editor enjoys editing in your genre. Ask for previous examples of manuscripts edited and ask how they were published: self-published or with a hybrid publisher, traditional publisher, or vanity press.
- Talk with the editor during a discovery call to see if you’re a good fit for each other. Listen to how the person speaks. Do they use proper grammar?
I. What is developmental editing?
Developmental editing comes after the writer finishes at least the first draft. These editors look for holes and inconsistencies in the characters, plot, and narrative, as well as characters’ arcs and flow.
A substantive editor meets with the writer before they begin writing. A publishing company often pairs this editor with an author who has a publishing contract and needs to be consistent with a second or third book in areas the publisher deems important.
J. What is an editorial assessment?
Author services companies or hybrid publishers often offer editorial assessments at a charge to see if the manuscript is viable for publication.
The assessment offers feedback about what the writer did well and how s/he can improve the work. This advice can span from changing the protagonist’s name to reworking the subplot or changing the ending. Those insights should help writers improve.
As with any editor, verify the skill and experience of the editor and for whom they have edited. Has the editor worked with your ideal publisher, whether traditional publishers, self-published authors, academic texts, or periodicals?
The editor should have a strong idea of what your target audience wants, but if you strongly disagree with feedback, discuss your concerns.
K. What is structural editing?
Structural editing looks into the manuscript’s structure, from organization to plot, character development, and marketability. Both developmental and substantive editors are considered structural editors.
L. What is a copy edit?
Copy editing is also referred to as line editing.
This specialty involves making sure the words (copy) are clear, concise, correct, and consistent. Clarity and concision are difficult for many writers, and a good copy editor generally cuts the word count significantly when eliminating unnecessary words such as that, there is, and would have.
Consistency is important in style and spelling, but also in names, dates, locations, and other facts used more than once in the manuscript.
Professional copy editors also know and use a specific style manual and dictionary to ensure consistency. I use The Chicago Manual of Style, Ed. 17, and The Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Ed. 11. These are the newest print versions.
Ensuring correct information is the most difficult part of a copy, or line, edit because it can be the most time consuming. I verify all facts that the writer doesn’t assure me are unquestionably accurate, and I check all footnotes and endnotes for style and active links.
M. How do you quote the price for copy edits?
To quote edits for manuscripts, I look at samples from the final manuscript to determine the amount of work to be done and estimate the time required. Unless something unforeseen comes up, I charge the quoted price. If a problem arises, I contact the client immediately.
Manuscript edits start at $1,500. Short-form edits begin at $100.
N. How do you determine what price you should charge?
My rates are based on years of experience in writing, editing, and a wide range of subjects and topics. People are often surprised when I pick up on spacing errors or the misspelling of names and wonder how I know miscellaneous facts.
O. What is line editing?
Line editing and copy editing are used interchangeably. See Section L for more information.
P. What should an author look for when they search online for an editor who’s right for them?
- The editor should have a presence online, ideally a website.
- If the editor has only a LinkedIn profile or other social media account, look for evidence that the person edits full time.
- Look or ask for work samples and references. Also ask for contact information to talk with references.
- Search Amazon and the internet for any references to the person. If they support an organization opposed to your book’s theme, they probably will not provide an unbiased edit.
Something to consider is what service the editor provides. A copy editor should have exceptional skills in grammar, punctuation, and sentence flow. At the same time, a substantive or developmental editor thinks creatively, so his or her grammar isn’t as critical.
When interviewing a copy editor, ask how education and experience prepared him or her to provide detailed edits of grammar, punctuation, point-of-view, passive voice, parallel construction and other rules in grammar. (You can search the internet for terms if you want to ask them during the interview and know if the answers are correct.)
Additional questions are answered in a blog post on my website: https://editorbeth.com/hire-a-qualified-editor/
Q. What are three danger signs that indicate an author should not use a particular editor?
I caution people to avoid editors who cannot show examples of previous work, have typographical, grammar, or language errors on their sites; or whose sites are unclear.
R. What are the ten most prevalent errors you find in manuscripts you have edited?
Most editors have pet peeves and idiosyncrasies. Mine are, in no particular order of importance
1. Errant spelling that should have been caught with a spell check
2. Double spaces after a period. Word processing programs space words for easy reading, so the second space was eliminated in the early 2000s. Search and replace can be used, but I wish writers understood that the rule now is single spacing.
3. Excessive use of “that” and “there is,” along with other pet words that might be “so” or “I”
4. Writing from several points of view (POV) throughout the book, or “head-hopping” without a clear reason
5. Failing to vary sentence structure
6. Settling for bland descriptions
7. Using linking verbs instead of action verbs
8. Writing for themselves instead of their readers. A writer must consider what the reader wants to gain from spending the time and money on a book instead of what s/he needs to say. I recommend people write what they need to say then save the work. From there, cull what’s unimportant and rewrite to fill in the characters, plots, and arc for an engaging read.
9. Sending the work to an editor without proofreading or having someone else proofread their book. Having a beta reader review a manuscript and give feedback is an even better way to improve your work before engaging and paying an editor.
10 a. Expecting the editor to fix all errors without taking an interest in his or her own work to get it to its best state. Working with critique groups and beta readers can help improve the work. If the amount of work to be done before I can provide a quality edit, is extensive, I don’t accept the work.
10 b. Not taking an interest in improving their work in favor of “just” getting it published or any other reason
S. Do you have a word limit on the length of manuscript you will edit?
As I mentioned, I use many of these strengths in working with short-form editing, but I do not edit anything longer than 50,000 words.
T. Why do editors charge so much?
Editing takes a lot of time. I work only with the finished manuscript, and I usually edit at least twice before proofreading and returning the work to the writer.
In addition to paying an editor for her time, you also are paying for her knowledge, education, and experience. She often can refer you to editors, designers, marketers, virtual assistants, and others who can improve your product and sell it quicker, better, and sometimes for more profit.
U. How long does an edit take?
Short form editing requires about a week. Longer works take six-to-eight weeks.
V. Do you edit the manuscript after I make changes?
No, I work from a final manuscript with a specified word count. My edits should not require changes that require rewrites, so an additional edit should not be necessary.
W. What is a proofreader’s job and when you need one?
When a manuscript is deemed ready for print, a proofreader is necessary to catch any oversights or changes in a manuscript. The proofreader should be exceptional in spelling and know the style guide your publisher desires. Often, a proofreader will review a manuscript after it is laid out to catch odd hyphenation, widows, orphans, and irregular spacing. A publisher sometimes provides this service, and they should send you a proof copy or an advanced reader copy (ARC) to review before the book is published.
X. Should I give a copy of the book to people who worked on my book, such as editors?
Common practice is to provide those who worked on your book at least one signed copy of the book. If the person can help you promote your book, provide another copy that she can give or show to someone else.
Y. If I am publishing something other than a book, is it pushy to send my editor a link to my published work?
Not at all! Your editor is delighted to work with you and support you by celebrating your success. She might also share your work on social media, especially if you include a note about how much she helped you reach this goal.
Books and Articles by Beth Crosby
Free E-Book Written by Beth Crosby
Don’t Publish Your First Draft (free ebook)
Article by Beth Crosby
Linked in: “Show Your Expertise” describes developmental and substantive editors and talks about self-publishing: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-articles-show-your-expertise-beth-crosby/
Books Edited by Beth Crosby
You Map: Find Yourself. Blaze Your Path. Show the World! by Kristin Sherry
Your Team Loves Mondays…Right? and other books by Kristin Sherry,
The Power of Creativity: A Three-Part Series for Writers, Artists, Musicians and Anyone In Search of Great Ideas and other books by Bryan Collins
Poisoned Glass by Kimberly Tilley, and Cold Heart, to be released soon:
We Demand the Right to Vote by Meneese Wall
Unclaimed Blessings and other books by Diana and Hany Asaad
About Beth Crosby
How to Contact Beth to edit your work:
In an email, send a summary of your manuscript, final word count, specific needs of the edit, and your ideal time line. Emails with attachments or manuscripts will not be opened or considered.
Joan: Wow! What a wealth of information you shared with us, Beth Crosby. Thank you very much.
Beth Crosby: You’re welcome Thanks for the opportunity to be here and share with you.
Please feel free to ask Beth questions in the comment area. I’ll add pertinent ones and her answers to this interview post.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2009-2020 Joan Y. Edwards
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