Interview With Editor Lynne Pearson

Picture of Lynne Pearson

Written by Dicky Kitchen Jr

The most powerful tool a writer can have is a great editor. A great editor can uncover the diamond in the rough. And while it may be painful to have someone chip away at your manuscript to reveal the gem beneath, there is no better person on earth to help transition your story from a wonderful idea to a legible masterpiece.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that my editor’s name popped into my head the moment I decided I wanted to add interviews to my web content.

One of the first times I communicated with Lynne was when she responded to, and promptly recommended edits for, one of my posts on Instagram. Some people would have gotten upset by having a stranger recommend corrections and improvements to a post, but I saw it for the beautiful gift it was.

There are two reasons I was happy for the recommendations instead of feeling indignant. One, it’s my firm belief that any and every writer should welcome critique with a smile and an open mind. And two, her recommendations were damn good! So instead of being put off, I thanked her and implemented the changes she recommended.

As I continued to post snippets from my debut novel, Lynne continued to pop up with helpful and insightful suggestions, and quickly became the person I wanted to hire for all my editing needs. To date, she has been the editor for Pray: Hunting Party – The Nurse, The True Tale of Peter Piper, and is currently working with me on re-editing my debut novel (Prey/Pray: Origin of The Average Man) for the release of a second edition.

Lynne is one of those people whose passion also lines up with her profession, so much so that when I asked her if she would take part in this interview she replied with: “I am happy to do that for you. I may edit your questions…”

So, without further ado, I present to you Lynne Person and my edited questions:

Dicky:
Lynne, thanks again for agreeing to do this interview. I think editing is one of those scary things both self-published and traditional authors deal with, and I’m hoping this will help other writers realize editors aren’t inherently evil and what exactly it is that a good editor can offer. Now I know there are different types of editing, but can you give us a rundown of the editing you provide and what the different types mean?

Lynne:
Sure. A copy edit is the simplest level of editing I offer. That’s correcting errors in capitalization, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. There are many writing programs that can do that. What a human editor will do is check for consistency – the name of a character is always spelled correctly. For example, my name is Lynne with an E. Yet it can be spelled Lyn, Lynn, Linn. Most software programs are not going to pick that up. A good copy editor will. I will also query the writer about factual inconsistencies and word choice. A writer may use a word that I’m not familiar with or use it in a way that is uncommon. That doesn’t make the word wrong, I just point it out and let them decide.

The next level of editing I provide is a line edit. It includes everything in a copy edit but then I dive a little deeper. I look at timeline, character descriptions, and plot points. I will suggest rewriting sentences and paragraphs for clarity, improve the pace, and deepen the emotion. I bring to the writer’s attention anything I think will bump the reader out of the story.

A manuscript critique is an evaluation of the story itself. Does the character have clearly defined goals? Are there gaping plot holes? What is the inciting incident and does the story actually start there? I may suggest adding conflict, shifting scenes, changing point of view. It is a thorough evaluation. I don’t make copy edit corrections on this level because I want the writer to focus on the story.

Dicky:
I mentioned in the introduction that your passion lines up with your profession, and from the conversations we’ve had, I think it’s fair to say that editing really is a passion for you. When did you first realize that you were passionate about editing?

Lynne:
I was invited to a neighbourhood book group where a local author would be speaking about her novel. I noticed inconsistencies but did not mention them to the author. At this point there wasn’t a darn thing she could do about them – the book was in print – but other people did. I joined that author’s newsletter and a few months later she shared the first few chapters of her current work in progress. I found inconsistencies in the story – it was set in the past – and she referenced events that hadn’t happened yet. I had no idea how to contact her. That led me to thinking I should offer my services as a reader to her publisher and it dawned on me that editing was a career that interested me. Writers work so darn hard to get their stories out there and who wants their work derailed by typos and mistakes? Funny story, that author became a client.

Dicky:
And how long have you been editing?

Lynne:
I finished my editing program from University of Washington in June of 2016 and hung up my shingle that fall.

Dicky:
In the introduction, I also mentioned that some of our first conversations revolved around edits you recommended for some parts of my book that I was posting online. Is that something you’ve done with a lot of others?

Lynne:
Nope. Only one other person.

Dicky:
What is it that makes you reach out and offer to help in a situation like that?

Lynne:
Respect for writers, and a sincere desire to see them present the best book they possibly can. Also the way you presented yourself. Your posts are engaging and I saw something I could help with so I did.

Dicky:
For me, one thing that really impressed me about you is you never did any type of hard pitch for your services. It never felt like you were offering suggestions just to get me to pay you for your skills, and if I’m remembering correctly, I think I approached you about taking me on as a client and not the other way around. Having grown up in sales, it was really refreshing to see that you let your skills speak for themselves instead of pushing a sales pitch. Have you come across a lot of clients by just being yourself and letting your inner editor come through naturally?

Lynne:
I suppose. I’ve never thought of it that way. If someone is having an issue with their book and asks me a question, I’m happy to help.

Dicky:
When it comes to your clients, I know you work with more than just thriller writers like myself, what different genres have you worked with?

Lynne:
Memoirs, mysteries, women’s fiction, dystopia, fantasy.

Dicky:
Do you have a favorite genre to work with?

Lynne:
The majority of my work comes from romance writers. I love a happy ever after story.

Dicky:
Are there any genres that you won’t work with, and if so, why?

Lynne:
I haven’t encountered one yet. Not sure if I have the skill set for sci-fi though. I’m not a fan of books with sexual violence so I might turn that down.

Dicky:
One of the many things I think you handle amazingly well, is protecting the voice of the writer. A fear I had going into hiring an editor, and a fear I’m sure other writers have experienced, is worrying that an editor would change their story to the point where it didn’t seem like their writing anymore. Is that a skill set you’ve always had, or is something you’ve had to develop?

Lynne:
I think it has to be developed. An editor has to remember that it is not their book. Starting out, I had conversations with writers where I was overstepping and I had to pull back. Now, if I see something that I think needs a drastic change, I will talk with the writer first. I tell writers that my edits are suggestions and it is up to them whether or not they accept them.

Dicky:
Is it difficult to maintain a writer’s voice that isn’t your own?

Lynne:
Yes. But it’s a challenge I fully embrace.

Dicky:
I’ve been through the process with you a couple times now, so I’m developing a better understanding of it, but for those who haven’t worked with a professional editor, walk me through the steps you take for editing and how you work with the writer to improve their story.

Lynne:
I start off with a conversation. Preferably a video chat. Stuck in my little office, I like to see faces. I ask authors about their writing background, their publishing goals, their concerns. Then we determine the level of editing they require. I download the manuscript onto my kindle so I’m not tempted to start editing write away. The first editing pass starts with running the manuscript through PefectIt. That helps with inconsistencies. Then I go through the book sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. I edit in Word. I use the comment bubbles to make suggestions, point out issues, and query the author. When I finish the first round, I create a Style Sheet. It includes suggestions for improvement, the reasoning for my edits, and is a printout of all the comments I’ve made in the manuscript. I schedule another conversation with the author to go over the Style Sheet. Then I send that off to the author with the marked-up manuscript for them to make revisions. When they complete their revisions, they send it back to me. I read it one more time and clean it up. Then I return it to the author.

Dicky:
For those looking for an editor, what are some key things to look for before hiring someone?

Lynne:
Find someone who is familiar with your genre.
Preferably find someone who has taken courses in editing.
Determine what level of edit you need.
Familiarize yourself with the costs of an edit.
The Editorial Freelancers Association is an excellent resource.

Dicky:
And what are some red flags to look out for?

Lynne:
Non-professional conduct. If they trash talk a client to you, chances are they will do the same to you.
Don’t hire the cheapest editor you can find.
Don’t let them rewrite your book.

Dicky:
What are some things writers can do to make a partnership with an editor more successful?

Lynne:
Clarify exactly what you are looking for. Ask questions if you don’t understand why they’ve made a suggestion. If you’ve sent your manuscript to your editor, don’t tinker with it and resend it. Chances are you’ve just created more work for them.

Dicky:
In addition to being an editor, you’re also a writer, and we’ve spoken before about how you don’t edit for yourself when it comes to your story. Explain to everyone why, even at a professional editor’s level, it’s important to get outside help when it comes to editing something you’ve written.

Lynne:
I can’t see my mistakes. I’m too close to the story and can’t see if I’ve managed to translate what’s in my head to what’s on the page.

Dicky:
Speaking of your story, do you want to tell us about it and what stages of the writing/publishing process you’re currently in?

Lynne:
I am currently working on a story about two sisters who are trying to launch an event planning company and the setbacks they encounter. I’m about half way through the first draft.

Dicky:
Anything else you’d like to add in that I haven’t brought up?

Lynne:
I believe that writers need to be readers. It allows you to see what’s popular, provides examples of how to drive a plot and build memorable characters. Read from the best and from the worst. There are lessons to be learned from both.

Thank you again to the wonderful Lynne Pearson for agreeing to this interview. If you are interested in hiring Lynne or keeping up with her on social media, you can find her here:

Email: Lynne@allthatediting.com
Web: https://allthatediting.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allthatediting
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/allthatediting/

And if you’re wondering how many corrections Lynne made to my post… The number is eleven.