WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us a bit about yourself. (How long you've been an editor, your educational background, location, etc. - as much as you are comfortable sharing.)
AV: Hi, Winnie. Thanks so much for having me! I've been editing for five years. I have a background in English education, including both grammar and literature, and also library science. I'm a Southern girl-my husband and I live in rural North Louisiana with two parakeets, two cats, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
WG: I'm sure you get this all the time - is Anne Victory your real name?
AV: It is, though I can't claim all the credit. I married into the last name :
WG: Can you tell us why you decided to pursue a career as an editor and what steps you took to get you where you are today?
AV: Sure! It's actually a bit of kismet (and a longish story)-just one of those things where pieces fall together at the right time, and at a time when you're receptive to change. I was an office manager for a small educational company that worked with special education departments, and I also was the personal assistant for the president and vice president of the company. I'd been there for… gosh, I think what must have been eight years, and I just felt as though I was stagnating. So I looked at going back to school-most of what I lacked for an education degree was my student-teaching hours, and in Louisiana if you want to be a school librarian (which I did), you add library science as a minor.
About that same time, my husband had gotten me a Kindle from Amazon. The price had finally come down on them (previously they'd been in the $300 range), and he really felt like I was taking over the house with my book habit, so I think he hoped I'd start purchasing digital books and quit adding to my stacks. His ploy worked : And-here's where fate stepped in-that happened to be the same time that indie publishing was starting to take off. There was (and still is) a need for good freelance editors, and I quickly found my niche.
As for steps I took to get where I am-education was a big one. Obviously there are the big-picture things: grammar, storytelling, craft, et cetera, but then there are also the procedural issues. How exactly do you edit? You need to learn your way around Word's Track Changes and Comment features and also figure out what authors expect and need to see when they get their manuscript back. There are also a lot of other skills you need to have to be a freelancer, much like being an indie publisher. Networking is huge, so are the various administrative skills such as project organization, communication, accounting, and so forth. I was fortunate in that I'd been a freelance website designer in a former life and so had a bit of a handle on that side of things, and then my former bosses at CTC (the educational company I mentioned) were also entrepreneurs, and they were happy to offer advice and support. Couple that with a love for what I'm doing and my husband, who never doubted me, and the rest was built with time and hard work and the good fortune of finding great clients.
WG: What type(s) of editing do you offer?
AV: I offer primarily line editing, which is a step between content / developmental editing and copyediting. Whereas dev editing tends to look at the big picture-character arcs, plots, pace, et cetera, and copyediting focuses almost purely on the mechanical aspects, line editing (as I define it-it seems like everyone has a different definition!) focuses on the language. The connotation of words, the way the story flows, the tweaks that can take a story from great to phenomenal. I also have assistants who do straight copyedits / proofreading (e.g. the purely mechanical stuff) and also Oops Detection, aka final pass / cold reads. This allows me to offer my clients three separate passes from three different people with a single point of contact, and that results in a product that is practically indistinguishable from what we see out of New York.
WG: Do you have specific genres that you enjoy working on the most?
AV: I'm pretty eclectic, but my big loves are paranormal romance and urban fantasy romance. Close behind that is anything in the romance genre, urban fantasy, and cozy mysteries.
WG: Are there any genres that you will generally turn away?
AV: I have to confess that I'm not a fan of general fiction, literary fiction, and historical fiction. I think it's the pacing. One of the things fans of those genres love-long, leading chapters that explore years (sometimes generations) just seem to drag on to me. I also tend to shy away from projects that are over 125,000 words since those are harder to schedule due to the large chunk of time they tend to take up.
WG: Are you actively seeking new clients?
AV: Not for editing, no. I almost always have openings for proofreading and final pass projects, but I stay pretty booked up for editing. However, I do generally have a slot or two reserved in case something comes along that really catches my interest, so I do welcome inquiries.
WG: What have been some of your favorite projects to work on?
AV: Oh, gosh. I love all my clients and projects, and I'm pretty much the queen of "This is my NEW FAVORITE book!"
WG: When did you realize that you'd "made it"?
AV: I still ask myself if I have : But I think I started to relax a bit when my calendar was full and I had the luxury of working only on projects that I want to work on. When you're starting out, you tend to take on what pays the bills. I'm in the fortunate place now though where my clients are all people I enjoy working with and their projects excite me.
WG: Have you ever considered penning a novel yourself?
AV: I have, and I have tons of ideas. I never seem to make it past the idea stage though, and editing keeps me both happy and busy. I won't say that I'll never write a book, but at this point it's pretty unlikely.
WG: How would you describe your editorial style?
AV: I'm pretty laid-back. I adhere (for the most part) to Chicago Manual of Style, but I also allow plenty of latitude for an author's voice. I'm a little irreverent-a lot of my clients have said they crack up when reading my comments. I tend to have the outlook that editing is work, but work doesn't have to be miserable. Let's have fun!
WG: What do you see as the main strength you personally bring to the table as an editor?
AV: Professionalism and all that that entails. I love my clients and strive to foster a great relationship with them, and at the same time I honor their commitments and work with them to stick to their editing schedule. I'm also good and consistent.
WG: If you could work with any author, who would it be and why?
AV: I have a dream group of clients now and couldn't be happier, but I think I'd love to work with Steven Brust or Jim Butcher. Not only do I love their books, but my husband does too, and his giddiness if I were to work with either of those gentlemen would make my day.
WG: What advice do you have for someone who would like to get into freelance editing?
AV: The first would be to know your basics-that is grammar and craft. After that would be to have basic business skills. And finally-network. Being able to network effectively will serve you well no matter what you do in life.
WG: Do you have any tools or resources that you use on a regular basis?
AV: I have a ton. For editing, I'd say my three main tools are Microsoft Word, Chicago Manual of Style, and Merriam-Webster Collegiate Online. I also have over a dozen other books-usage guides such as Garner's Modern American Usage and various books on craft and language. From the business side-I swear by Freshbooks and Smartsheet. Both are cloud-based-Freshbooks handles invoicing and accounting, and Smartsheet is basically Excel on steroids and lets me handle all my scheduling and project management.
WG: If you weren't an editor, what would you be?
AV: If I weren't editing, I'd probably have continued with my original plan to be a high school librarian. I love books and the power of reading, and sharing that with kids would be pretty awesome.
WG: What piece of advice or 'pearl of wisdom' would you like to offer authors who are looking for an editor?
AV: Oooh. Due diligence! I have heard so many horror stories, both regarding competency and also finding someone you mesh well with. Obviously you want someone who knows what they're doing, but beyond that you want someone you enjoy working with. Indie authors are generally pretty prolific, often putting out four books (or more) per year. Your editor and you will be spending a fair amount of time together. I actually have an article on finding an editor that goes into the process a bit more in-depth: an-editors-tips-for-selecting-an-editor
My other piece of advice-don't feel like you're locked into one editor. New authors can often learn a lot from editors who have a style that's more "by the book," or editors with less experience who also happen to be lower priced. But you can also outgrow your editor. For instance, more experienced authors will probably want an editor who is experienced enough to recognized style choices and when it's okay if they deviate from conventional "rules." When that happens, don't be afraid to look around for someone who's a better fit, especially as your books take off and you have more money to invest back into your business. An analogy would be if you wanted to become a theoretical physicist. When you're a kid, your parents can help you with your homework. Then your high school teacher is able to show you new things. Eventually, though, you have to move on to college, then graduate school, and at some point you'll be working with Michio Kaku if you want to advance in your field.
WG: What sort of misconceptions/ unrealistic expectations have you encountered from authors about what a freelance editor's role is that you would like to correct?
AV: Definitely the idea that you can have one person edit a book and it's going to be perfect. False! Firstly, I don't know that you'll ever have a perfect manuscript, no matter how many times you look over something. But aside from that, we're all human-we miss things and we all have our weaknesses. There's a reason traditional publishers have multiple passes made during the publishing process, and it's not just because they want to spend more money and time on a project. Another issue is that different people have different skill sets. It's the rare person who is both an effective developmental editor and copyeditor-the two processes involve totally different skill sets and parts of the brain. And… I happen to have an article on the editing process too (but you knew I would, right? : )
WG: Which describes you best - Word Nerd or Grammar Police?
AV: Definitely a Word Nerd. I love language, I love the way words sound, the feelings they evoke. I do have a Grammar Police Badge, but that plays second fiddle. :)
WG: If you were a punctuation mark, what would you be and why?
AV: The interrobang. Practical and whimsical in one package. Also a bit whacky and never quite made it to being one of the cool kids like those pesky commas.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share? (Feel free to expound (or not) on what it means to you and/or why you selected this particular quote)
AV: I have a lot, but I just saw this one this morning when I was double-checking an answer in this interview. It's fresh in my mind and it made me laugh because it's so true, so I'll share it.
"All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what's cool."-Steven Brust
WG: What do you do to relax and have fun?
AV: I love to hang out with my husband. Usually we watch TV or movies or go out to eat, but he always makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood no matter how hectic my day is.
WG: What do you enjoy reading?
AV: Just about anything. I like urban fantasy, romance, thrillers, cozy mysteries, you name it, really. I also enjoy nonfiction, though these days I'm usually reading editing and business-related books with the occasional book on clicker training for dogs.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
AV: We have a ton of TV shows we follow. Generally speaking, I like stuff with both a great story and action. My current favorites right now are The Blacklist and Scorpion. The Blacklist is pretty much sold by James Spader's performance of Raymond Reddington, but I admit that Tom is making me swoon this season. Scorpion-I think I like the idea of the group of misfits that saves the day.
WG: Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your life? In what way?
AV: Oh, gosh. I've always been a huge reader. I used to read in class instead of paying attention when I was a kid, which is wild considering that my daddy pretty much had to force me to learn to read-it was a battle of wills. I had a copy of The Children's Odyssey though, which was my daddy's when he was a child, and would probably be about seventy-five years old if I still had it (it got lost due to water damage in storage). It was a translation of Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, and it was wonderful. Even though it was supposed to be a "children's" book, it was really on an adult level. The language was beautiful, and it was illustrated, and… Yeah. I spent hours and hours with that book as a kid.
My other childhood favorite was C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. Such wonderful books with magical lands and great lessons. Maybe that was the Harry Potter for us older folk : Oh-here's a quote for you from that book that has always stuck with me. Rabadash, the bad guy, has jumped in the air in what he thought would be a fearsome kung fu type move, only he somehow managed to get caught on a hook that was in the wall and so he's hanging there while the good guys, including Corin, are looking on.
Rabadash: "Beware, Beware! Beware! The bolt of Tash falls from above!"
"Does it ever get caught on a hook halfway?" asked Corin.
"Shame, Corin," said the King. "Never taunt a man save when he is stronger than you; then, as you please."
WG: Before we close, is there anything else you'd like to mention about yourself?
AV: Way to put me on the spot, Winnie! I'll probably think of something witty in a couple of hours, but for now my brain is coming up short.
WG: Is there a website you can point us to where folks can go to learn more about you?
AV: Sure! I have a list of my services, a full project list, testimonials, and tons of articles on grammar, publishing, etc. at my website: http://victoryediting.com
WG: And finally, thanks again for taking some time to 'stop by' this month!
AV: Thank you! I really enjoyed it :)