Welcome to the two hundred and eighty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with editor Dennis DeRose. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Dennis. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be an editor.
Dennis: My family and I live in Middletown New York. I’m a counselor in a New York state prison and I’m looking to retire this year. I became an editor just by being the type of person I am. I began by reviewing books for a wonderful lady in Kentucky. She liked my reviews so much that she asked me to edit every review submitted on her website; I agreed. While reading a book for review, I have a habit of recording events and errors that I find. I asked her to submit the errors I found to the writer. I did the same thing to his next book; he was so impressed that he asked me to edit his next manuscript. And I did and so it began and has continued for over two years, nonstop.
Morgen: They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know but certainly having both helps. 🙂 What do you generally edit?
Dennis: I prefer to edit fiction because that’s what I like to read. I have edited a few nonfiction to date, but it’s not my preference.
Morgen: It wouldn’t be mine either. Are there common mistakes an author can make?
Dennis: I don’t think authors communicate enough with their editors; that could be fatal. I’m thinking that often writers might not know how to accept changes in Word and they blame their editor for errors they make when doing so. I have no evidence to back that up, only suspicion based on comments from a few of my writers.
Another mistake is that I often feel they are in a rush to have their books edited, hence they may have a problem with the bill when they get it. They may feel it’s too much money. This has happened to me once before.
Morgen: I have a great editor who comes up with some wonderful suggestions as well as finding errors (fortunately not many) but it makes sense for me to be as thorough as I can before it goes to her because my time doesn’t cost me anything. Do editors generally charge by the word or the hour?
Dennis: That’s up to the editor but I feel that hourly rates are fairer to good writers.
Morgen: That’s interesting. Rachel and I agreed on a £x per 1,000 words so we both knew the cost from the outset. How much notice do you get for editing a project?
Dennis: Sometimes I only have two or three weeks; that’s not enough time. Knowing that, I inform writers not to hold me responsible for a few mistakes they may find later. Rushing never gets the job done right. I let them know that up front.
Morgen: Very wise. If a job’s worth doing… Do you have much dealing with publishers?
Dennis: The only time I deal with publishers is when they want me to edit a book they are publishing for a writer.
Morgen: I’ve heard numerous authors say they can self-publish without an editor – what would you say to that?
Dennis: It’s often a question of money; they may not have it. Or they may feel that they have gone over their writing so many times that there couldn’t possibly be any mistakes.
Morgen: But be too close to it, so there probably are. How do you edit – on screen or on paper?
Dennis: Electronically only, it would take much longer to edit longhand. I use voice recognition software to save my writers money.
Morgen: That’s a good idea. Do you write?
Dennis: I am not a writer but I have written one poem about a college friend and that will be published this year. I have also edited one book of poetry.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Dennis: I have had two writers back out of editing agreements; things happen. Dealing with it, that’s life. I know I did my best.
Morgen: 🙂 Have you been involved in any competitions?
Dennis: So far three writers that I have edited for have won golden awards for excellent writing in the fiction category.
Morgen: Oh wow, that must feel so rewarding (pardon the pun). These days an editor and agent are the key people in a writer’s life, do you think agents are vital to an author’s success?
Dennis: An agent may be vital to a writer’s success unless he or she is willing to do all the work themselves and they have some connections where it counts. I make it a habit to email all my writers and writing friends important information that I feel might help them promote their books. I think it’s important; after all, one hand does wash the other.
Morgen: 🙂 What do you think of eBooks? Do you read them or is it paper all the way?
Dennis: I encourage all my writers to publish an e-book first because I know how popular they are becoming. Presently, I prefer to read paper over e-book. That may change in the future.
Morgen: I bought a Kindle recently but I still prefer paperbacks, certainly for home. Having dozens of books in my handbag though is much lighter than it used to be. 🙂 How much marketing do you do?
Dennis: I do try to help writers market their books wherever possible. Why not? We should help each other. I feel that we, myself and the writer, are part of a team.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of all the books or characters you’ve edited?
Dennis: I have edited over 20 books but I really can’t say that I have a favorite one. I think all of my writers have done a super job and I hope that I have helped them, in some small way, to make their books better than they were before.
Morgen: How important do you think title / covers are?
Dennis: When given the opportunity, I am more than happy to express my opinion over one cover or another. I appreciate that my writers value my opinion.
Morgen: 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Dennis: Right now I am editing a book for a local writer. I have writers lined up waiting for me to finish this one.
Morgen: That’s great, having that security. Do you work every day? If there is such a thing, do you ever suffer from editor’s block?
Dennis: I try to edit every day. Sometimes things get in the way.
Morgen: How about characters, what do you think makes them believable?
Dennis: When I edit a book, I try very hard to think like the reader. So that when I edit I often will offer suggestions to the writer to make their characters more real and bring more life to them.
Morgen: At least, like a reader, you’re coming to it with fresh eyes. What are your latest projects?
Dennis: To date, I have edited two nonfiction, one book of poetry, 17 novels and a few short stories. As stated, I am currently editing a romance for a local writer,along with an anthology of poetry and short stories. I have another short story to edit for a young writer (he`s 12). Will edit that no charge.
Morgen: A nice mixture so you don’t get bored. 🙂 Do you have to do much research for your job?
Dennis: I research when necessary, if I feel that something is out of place or incorrect. I try to be as accurate as possible.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your editing life? Has anything surprised you?
Dennis: My least favorite is when I know a writer could have done a better job but, for some reason, just hasn’t done so and I have to try to pick up the pieces. That becomes difficult and costly to the writer.
Morgen: Ouch. Yes, I would imagine so. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Dennis: Take your time; do not rush sending your manuscript to the editor. It’s your book so make it the best you can before you submit it for editing.
Morgen: Absolutely, because it will only cost more money (and time going backwards and forwards). If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Dennis: Jesus, Capt. Kangaroo, and Red Skelton. I would just like to thank them for the joy that they brought to my life. While I’m at it, I’d like to invite my relatives that have passed on so that I could hug them one last time. I miss them all very much. Dinner? That`s not important to me.
Morgen: I’m with you on the hugging. I’d like to have got to know my father better – on reflection, 34 years wasn’t enough. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Dennis: Do the right thing. I like to think that I made that up.
Morgen: 🙂 Are you involved in anything else writing-related?
Dennis: I do blog about things that are important to me.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not working?
Dennis: We like to go camping; I like to read and I go hunting and fishing when I have time.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Dennis: “Poets and Writers” magazine.
Morgen: Ah yes. That’s been recommended here before. Sadly I don’t think we have it in the UK although we could probably order it (note to self: have a look on the internet :)). Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Dennis: Authorsden, it’s free to join. I’m also able to do reviews about my writers’ books there. That’s where I do my blogging also. You can also sell your books there as long as you autograph them for buyers.
Morgen: That sounds great. 🙂 What do you think the future holds for editors?
Dennis: I would like to think that there will always be editors as long as there are writers who want to write well and will accept nothing less.
Morgen: Let’s hope so. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Dennis: I’m in LinkedIn under Moneysaver Editing and Dennis De Rose. Also look in Readersfavorite.com. Readers favorite will review books for FREE. My primary website is located in Authorsden under… http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?id=150139
Morgen: Thank you, Dennis. It’s been great chatting with you.
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