Tag Archives: editing

London Book Fair 2019 Roundup

I was at the London Book Fair 2019 as a Rebellion editor last week, and I’ve just about recovered…

David, Michael and I went as a free-range gang (although not corn-fed, as Ed Wilson joked) and essentially had back-to-back meetings for the three days; I think we had five official breaks in the whole time! It was hard and my feet hurt and I seriously hate people; the decision to put a bunch of people who have meetings in with a bunch of people who are Only Looking and then make the walkways narrow was not a great one, although not something that could really be avoided.

However, it was also really exciting; there were loads of good stalls and people, and apparently some really interesting events (although I missed them all!) It was so good to meet people that I’d either heard of or only briefly corresponded with, and also meet so many new faces. There are so many lovely agents, all of whom were really interested in what we do, and all of whom want to send us books! Yes, I know that’s their job, but still. They were all very enthusiastic.

The downside is that there were so many interesting-sounding manuscripts that we said “Ooh! Send it over!” to that I am probably going to be spending the next two months reading…

Things I learned:

  • Genre matters. It might be the best sci-fi book ever but if I’ve got enough sci-fi on my list at the moment, it’s not likely to make it to my pile…
  • Your agent uses your elevator pitch too!
  • It’s very interesting to see how many people dismiss the Junior Editor, and how many took the time to talk to me; it definitely made a difference.
  • Being a speed-reader is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to manuscript piles!
  • I have the best colleagues, who are all ridiculously supportive. It’s wonderful.

I have spent this weekend recovering (aka. sitting on the sofa playing Civ in between formatting jobs – the work never stops around here…) and now have a busy week that possibly involves reading manuscripts. I have the best job!

Levelling up on editing

So over the last few months, I’ve been taking on more freelance editing, and I’ve started being asked for an editorial letter with each submission.

I mean, I usually do a letter anyway, sort of summing up and putting big thoughts in and giving some pointers, but…

It’s An Editorial Letter. Of all the Deep Editorial Thoughts.

via GIPHY

Thankfully I had a chat to a wonderful colleague, who gave me some pointers, made some templates for me to look at and generally made me feel a lot better about doing it! I am extremely grateful for amazing people in the writing world who help at moments like that when I’m feeling completely lost (and I’m going to make him cake to say thank you!)

So I’ve never been very good at English Literature or Language. The problems with language started from not actually learning the basics in school – I can just about tell you what a verb and a noun are, but the rest? Not really…and that screwed me not just for learning other languages, but for analysing English, too. And with literature, I found that I can tell you what an author does, what to change to give it a different feeling, what to tweak to get a different effect…but I can’t ever really pinpoint exactly how they do it (or why having blue curtains makes a difference to anything). I’m coming at literary analysis from the reading side of “that just doesn’t seem right” and “try more X” rather than the writing side.

But I gotta analyse plots. Characters. THEMES.

*breathes*

Once my colleague had calmed me down and I’d had a look at his templates, I did start to feel a bit better (and he pointed out I’d have to adjust them to suit my editing styles, so they’re just what works for him). I look at characters anyway. I’ll analyse plot. It’s just that I need to start pulling some of that work out of the manuscript comments and into a wider letter, and bringing it all into one outline document. I’ll need to have a think about things that are fine (and comment on them) and things that could be improved in a wider sense. I do it all anyway, I just need to adapt my format.

So…I gotta get my ass in gear, and learn how to do all of this properly! Editing’s easy, they said. It’ll be over by Christmas, they said…

(It’s still an awesome job, and I love it!)

 

Rebellion and change

Otherwise entitled, “Kate, just freakin’ settle down and pick one job in one city.” Although actually I’ve been doing this job for four years now, so…I’m just adding a company?

So. Uh. I’m moving to Oxford after Easter, and changing my job (sort of) because I’ve been offered a position as an editor at Solaris/Abaddon, an imprint of Rebellion. They publish awesome fantasy and sci-fi, the sort I want to read, and it’s with an awesome team of people in an awesome city, and…

I might be just a little bit excited.

via GIPHY

Guys. Guys. It’s a proper paid editing job. (Much as I love Grimbold, we’re a small press. Editors do get paid, but most of what Sammy and I – and the rest of the editorial, production and marketing people – do is unpaid, because it has to be. Money goes to the authors first, and at the indie level that leaves little to nothing for the behind-the-scenes teams. It’s why we all have day jobs!)

And I just…I may have squeaked. And burst into tears. And jumped up and down. I’m very excited, and very nervous, and it feels like validation.

The whole application process was a series of coincidences and I-nearly-didn’t and then I thought I’d messed up both interviews – my brain was doing the whole, “You know that thing you said? SO STUPID. And you gave that answer, they’re going to take it this completely wrong way. You’re such an idiot. You’re a failure. Of course you don’t have the experience they want, and you haven’t read enough books, and you’re waaaay down their shortlist. They’re only bringing you back for a second interview to have someone to compare the best candidate to. Why did you even try for it?”

Thanks, brain.

Well…they want me. Apparently I am well-read (SUCK IT, BRAIN WEASELS!) and my editorial experience is good and I got 100% in the copy-edit test! And I know enough random history facts to have been able to have a conversation with the CEO (trust me, that’s necessary)…

This is a job that I LOVE. I’ve only really been doing it – and even really aware of it as a job that I could do – for the past 3-4 years. Sammy at Grimbold Books took on the GreenSky series, taking a chance on that as the first novella series – and then, when I asked if there was anything I could help with, took a chance on me for proofreading. And then editing. And then website updates. And then formatting. She’s been a rock of support and I am so grateful for the things she’s offered – not that, y’know, it was without self-interest….as obviously it helped to have someone helping with everything!

But I don’t have training – I’m only just doing the official basic proofreading courses for the Sfep, and that’s only because I have to have official training despite having the work hours already. I don’t have a degree. I don’t have a piece of paper that says I can do this. I don’t have anything except multiple books out there that I’ve helped shape, and authors who are levelling up because I’ve supported them. I’ve read and commented and helped and been annoyed and frustrated  and happy and tired, and I’ve worked my ass off in between other proper jobs doing something that I love and someone’s just told me that, yes, that’s worth something. Yes, you can do this.

I can do it.

It’s gonna be a tough couple of months settling in, and I’m going to be working out how to balance everything – I will still be doing work for Grimbold and my own writing, but I’ll be stepping back a little while I get sorted. The blog’s definitely one of the things I want to keep up so I’ll still be posting here, but if I’m not around as much elsewhere, please forgive me – or give me a kick!

Book Launch: Anthologies!

Infinite dysmorphia, holding on by our fingertips, terra nullius covers

So, for the past….year?….I’ve been working on three anthologies, and we now have a publication date and launch event!

All three anthologies are going to be published on the 31st May, and the launch is in Oxford Waterstones on the 8th June! You can get tickets through Eventbrite for the Oxford launch, and keep up to date with everything on Facebook.

All three anthologies have been really fun to work on – albeit also a lot of hard work, and with quite a few tears (mostly caused by “Holding On By Our Fingertips” – don’t read end-of-the-world stories when you’re not feeling good). The authors have all been absolutely fantastic and I am so proud and pleased with all the stories – every book is packed full of amazing writing and worldbuilding, and, frankly, stories that I really didn’t mind having to read and re-read!

If you’d like an Advanced Review Copy then please do email kristellink@grimboldbooks.com, or poke me on Twitter/here. I’ll be advertising the buy links as soon as we’ve got them all sorted, and I’m really looking forward to sharing some fantastic stories with everyone!

Beta reading: Opinion, problems and causes

I’ve just recently finished a beta read for Adrian’s latest novel, and saw him last week to give feedback on it. Well, I sent him an email with the draft and feedback, gave him a day to weep into his ice-cream bucket, and then met him for cake to discuss.

One of the things he and I both agree on with feedback is that it hurts. That never gets easier – no matter how many things you’ve submitted, I think it will always feel like a personal blow to get someone telling you that they hate your novel, and it’s the worst thing they’ve ever read – or in this case, I didn’t like the first half, and thought it needed rewriting. You need a day wallowing with ice cream.

And then you pull yourself together, get some perspective, and get to work.

The interesting thing with beta reads – and the trick to it, really – is to learn to separate your personal opinion and the problem. You need both – when I edit or beta, I make a point to add what I like as well as what I don’t like, because the author needs to know what’s working as well as what isn’t. But for the bits that I don’t like, it’s then a case of doing some analysis.

Do I dislike it simply because I don’t like that sort of thing? Adrian had gone quite Reservoir Dogs, and for me, the strength of the books in many ways is the heroism…and so having some nasty scenes is a jarring moment. Is it because it’s the wrong time in the book, or the wrong character? Is it because it just doesn’t fit?

So we sat and chatted, and spent some time working through what he was going for, what effects he’s using, why the scenes are there in the plot and themes, what works and what doesn’t…and I think we did eventually boil it down to a root cause (which was wrong character POV). But if we hadn’t done that analysis, all that would have come out was “rewrite the first half” – and it could have ended up as bad. I could highlight a problem, but then Adrian can counter with reasons those scenes need to be in there…it’s really interesting to try to get to the bottom of problems, and to understand why the reader is having the issue – particularly as this stage in a book, when the plot and characters are still fairly in flux.

And this is why people say that everything can be fixed in editing, and that you’re writing the first draft simply to find out what the story is. You get it all on a page, and then you tear it to pieces again – and rebuild. One of the other things to come out was that I felt one of the secondary characters didn’t get enough of a showing, despite having a few key scenes – and so the rewrite hopefully means that she can get wound further into the plot, and it will make her contribution better. So the changes potentially solve another problem that might have come up on the next round of edits.

It’s really interesting, and while it is hard work, I’m loving doing it.

 

*apologies for any spelling mistakes in this; I’ve got a cold and my fingers aren’t typing what my brain wants them to!