I knew that, in order to publish a book of the caliber I desired, I would need the skills and expertise of a professional editor. Since I was publishing the book myself, it was my responsibility to seek out, hire, and work with this individual. A daunting prospect, for certain. Through my searching, I came across Meredith Tennant and she became one of the most important contributors to Thoughts of an Eaten Sun.
Right out of the gate, my experience with Meredith was positive. During the request phase, she responded quickly, provided me with details of what to expect during the editing process, sent over a sample edit (through which I could understand what sort of feedback she would provide once I hired her), and assured me she could complete her editing quickly enough to allow me to achieve my publishing deadline (which was relatively tight for a project this size).
She caught spelling and grammatical errors, ensured consistency throughout the entire work, and offered suggestions when my original wording was confusing or hard to understand. Without her knowledge, attention to detail, and ability to preserve my intention, the book would have been an amateur production. Instead, the finished product is something I am proud to share with the world.
Since I got to see how talented Meredith was, I was eager to ask her questions about her experience as an editor, and, of course, I wanted to share her responses with others. Hiring an editor was a nerve-racking proposition for me, but she eased my worries and I am entirely happy with our collaboration! If anyone is looking for an editor, I urge you to consider Meredith Tennant.
- What types of editing are there?
- The editorial process is usually divided into three stages: First is developmental editing, which looks at the big picture—plot, tone, pace, character development, and so on. When that’s done, it’s time for copy editing when sentences are smoothed, grammar is checked, punctuation errors corrected, etc. The third and final stage is proofreading, when every word, punctuation mark, and space is checked.
- How long have you been editing?
- Most of my life in one way or another! I’ve always been able to see typos. I started helping friends in college, then worked for a publishing house in London before setting up my freelance business.
- How long have you been working with freelance clients?
- Ooh, probably 20 years, but just a few at first. Now about 50 percent of my work is with individual clients, many of whom are first-time authors.
- What type of editing do you enjoy most?
- Copy editing and proofreading are my favorite tasks. It’s hugely satisfying to make small adjustments that help the flow of a written work, and as for catching those typos and errors . . . I know how much I hate seeing them when I’m reading, so I get all sorts of happy hunting them down and fixing them.
- What are your favorite types of books to edit?
- That’s a tough one to answer. Cookbooks, thrillers, fantasy, romance—I like variety, I guess.
- What is the most challenging aspect of editing?
- Authors sometimes want to know if I think their book will sell. I don’t know! That isn’t my area of expertise. For example, I know someone (not a client!) whose books sell like hotcakes and I think they’re virtually unreadable. I can edit and proofread, but I’m not an agent or a marketer, and I find it difficult telling my clients that I can’t help them with every aspect of getting their book out into the world.
- What is the thing you enjoy most about editing?
- Apart from hunting typos? Having a client be thrilled with the final version of their work. It can be pretty scary for someone to hand their manuscript—something they’ve worked so hard on—over to a relative stranger, and I really enjoy it when they say that the editorial process was much easier than they expected and that the edits I made helped the book while still keeping the work very much theirs.
- Is there a single most common type of editing mistake you see?
- Not really. Each author has their own quirks. One might have trouble with punctuation, while another might be wildly inconsistent with details. It just depends. Although, weirdly, many seem to be confused about the difference between poured and pored.
- What would you recommend to a person just starting their editing career?
- Join a professional organization, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association, which has tons of courses, advice, and a jobs board. Don’t be afraid to take small jobs to start; you’ll get recommendations, which will encourage others to hire you. Always be respectful to your clients; they’re trusting you with their work and that is an honor. And always remember that the material you’re working on is their book; don’t be tempted to rewrite.
- What would you recommend to an author looking to find their first editor?
- Good editors usually belong to a professional organization. They should have excellent reviews (look at their website, if they have one). Ideally, they should have some experience in your genre. Have a conversation, either by email or phone, and go with the one your gut is telling you to go with.
- What is a common misconception people have about editing?
- That it can be done for virtually nothing! People generally don’t understand how long it takes to do a thorough, professional editing job, so a proposed fee can come with a sticker shock.
- Do you have any tools or software that you love?
- I use a tool called FileCleaner, which tidies up things like extra spaces, turning two hyphens into an em dash, turning straight quotation marks into “curly” quotes, etc. It speeds things up, but I never entirely trust these sorts of programs so always double and triple check everything myself.
- Where can people learn more about you?
- My website is www.meredithtennanteditorial.com. You can read reviews there, see recent projects (with lovely colorful cover images), and also read some articles, if you’re interested. Oh, and dotted around is some beautiful artwork made by my sister.