If you are a writer, you know the likes and dislikes of a reviewer or editor can make or break the success of your book.
How many of you have wondered why you didn't receive four or five stars for that year of loving effort?
Why did that danged editor make you take out that turn of phrase you thought so clever?
My guest is Joyce Gilmour, a professional editor/reviewer who has the credentials to let you know what goes on in that part of the business so vital to an author.
Barnes: Joyce, welcome to THROWING STONES.
Gilmour: Richard, first let me thank you for this opportunity to share about Editing TLC. I have appreciated getting to know you and have the opportunity to read and review two of your books: Luzon and Forgotten Roots.
B: Tell me about how long you’ve been doing this and how you got started.
G: The way Editing TLC came about (six plus years ago) is due to the fact that I started running in to books that were in print, which contained too many mistakes. In today’s world of publishing, many people have skipped the process of copyediting (or have asked family members and/or friends to copyedit for them). Too many books are ending up in the marketplace before they are at their finest quality. As a book reviewer, I have come across numerous books that are going to print before they are the best that they can be, which to me is very sad. My feeling is that if we are asking people to pay for a book, whether it be e-book or print book, readers deserve to have a book which is as error free as possible.
B: I learned about you through your work with the Military Writers Society of America. Do you review for other organizations?
G: Besides reviewing for MWSA, I have reviewed several books for Book Sneeze, and have also been appointed as an Amazon Vine reviewer. The majority of books I’ve reviewed have been as a free-lance reviewer. I used to search for books to review, but in the last two years I’ve had more authors contacting me requesting reviews. The “problem” currently is that the editing end of my business is keeping me extremely busy and my “inbox” of books to review is overflowing.
B: Do you specialize in particular genres?
G: No. One of the great things about my job is the variety of my reading and editing. It keeps life interesting!
B: Do you write yourself?
G: Funny you should ask…ever since elementary school, for reasons I will not go into, I have never thought of myself as a writer. My thinking regarding writing was that an author must create a story “out of nothing,” due to the push for “creative writing” in school. However, thanks to several of my authors/clients I’ve discovered the joy of writing “from something,” and have realized the power of research and using personal experience to build my ideas. I’ve also figured out that being a book reviewer demands a form of writing, so I can say, yes, I am a writer. By attending MWSA conferences, several special people have come into my life who have been encouragers to me. I also wrote a column for MWSA’s Dispatches Magazine for a couple of years called “Connections,” in which I shared my connections with authors and introduced readers to their writing. At this point in time, I am so busy helping other people achieve their dreams that I don’t spend much time writing. I know that someday my children’s book (a combination fiction/nonfiction) will become a reality.
B: There are editors, and reviewers. How do you handle doing both?
G: As I stated earlier, the book reviews are not getting enough attention these days. I do not charge anyone for a book review, so those are “gifted” to authors. I don’t believe in authors paying for book reviews; that is just my personal bias. At this point in time, I cannot take on any more reviews, as I am overloaded, and I’ve been telling people who are requesting that I cannot make any promises as to when I can get a review accomplished for them. (Children’s books might be the exception, as they don’t take as much time to read, and having been an elementary teacher, I am partial to them.) I believe that my editing clients’ work must come first. I usually have a “review” book going for times when I need a break from the intensity of copyediting. So, I guess I should say that beginning as a book reviewer, and having the courage to tell authors my opinion regarding their books, is part of what started to build up the editing end of my business. I have stories, though, of an author or two who took issue with my response…one who didn’t think anything of selling a book for $20 that was riddled with mistakes. Oh well…someone might buy one of his books, but I doubt they would make the same mistake twice.
B: What are the most common problems you notice when reviewing manuscripts that need improvement?
G: What a question! One of the biggest problems, I guess, is getting some authors to realize that Word’s spelling and grammar checker is good, BUT not the answer to finalizing a book. It does not have a brain that connects with the content, and does not pick up on inconsistencies within the text. I haven’t tallied common errors… but every manuscript seems to come with its own set of issues. I’ve learned to keep a style sheet for each author, with words and “issues” so that the two of us remain on the same page, because sometimes it isn’t a matter of “right or wrong” but a choice an author makes, but that choice has to remain consistent throughout the manuscript. As in two manuscripts I just completed, the main characters’ names were spelled two ways…so one wasn’t “right” and the other “wrong,” but the author’s choice needed to be consistent. And one of those manuscripts had been “edited” by three people before it got to me. That is frustrating for authors…so it is important to find an editor that has a keen eye and cares deeply that your manuscript shows up to the public in its topnotch quality. Some people mean well, but that doesn’t mean they have the critical eye necessary for the job. People see the TLC in my business name and think it stands for tender loving care. Originally, that is what I wanted…to let clients know that I would handle their “baby” with tender loving care. The TLC stands for “Technical Literary Critique” (done with tender loving care…LOL!).
B: What would be your advice to a writer submitting his/her work to you for: editing?
G: Handing over your “baby” to an editor is not easy for most authors. They have poured their heart and soul into their work, and having someone question parts of their book is not easy. A handful of my clients find the editing process a fun one, but most would probably think it is quite tedious. I prefer clients who want to have an active part in the editing process. It truly needs to be a team effort. Authors need to realize that it takes time and effort BEYOND the creative end of writing a book to get the book to the end result. Too often authors think the editing process should happen in a short amount of time. Probably relative to the writing of a book, it is a short process, but it is one that shouldn’t involve shortcuts. review? People wanting a review must realize that they will get an honest review of how I feel the book was written, and I will make comments regarding copy editing if there are issues. I can’t endorse a book that isn’t topnotch quality...I have a reputation to uphold and I can’t be giving four or five star reviews to people who might have wonderful content, but whose book is not top quality in the editing department. Books are expensive these days, and people deserve the best when they are spending money to read…besides, as I taught to third graders for thirty-six years, one must always consider his/her audience. Writing that is only going to be seen by the author does not need to be topnotch, but if we are going to put our work on display, that is a different story.
B: How can writers contact you for your services?
G: Writers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org They can also check out my references, along with my book reviews and books that I’ve edited on my website at www.editingtlc.com It is certainly where interested folks can go to get the upshot of Editing TLC.
G: Thanks again, Richard, for the opportunity to share about my business. I hope your readers feel free to contact me regarding any questions they might have regarding Editing TLC.
B: Thank you for these great insights.