Welcome to the six hundred and thirty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today I welcome back editor and fiction author Dorothy Davies to talk about her editing (you can read our chat about her writing here). 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, Dorothy. Please tell us how you came to be an editor.
Dorothy: When I began writing seriously over 30 years ago, there was no one to help me with story planning, article planning or anything else. I learned as I went along, mostly by rejection, working out how to make it better so it sold next time out. From there I progressed to teaching creative writing by post for two long distance learning colleges and from there, it seemed a natural progression to take a copy editing course and move into editing, which I did by contacting the company I wrote for at the time. I ended up with a full time editing job which I still do. I also edit for Static Movement, who specialise in dark/horror anthologies. I have a great many anthologies to my name now and more to come.
Morgen: Is there a format (novels, non-fiction…) / genre that you generally edit?
Dorothy: I prefer short stories; they are the challenge to get right! I edit books at work, so really, anything that comes along.
Morgen: A rather global question, but are there common mistakes an author can make?
Dorothy: Punctuation. Biggest problem of all. Many authors fall down with their lack of punctuation and I am not only talking of amateur writers here. I recently read a published book where the punctuation was diabolical!
Morgen: Do editors generally charge by the word or the hour?
Dorothy: I have a set rate for the paid editing, but for Static Movement it is free.
Morgen: I’ve heard numerous authors say they can self-publish without an editor – what would you say to that?
Dorothy: They can’t. No matter how many times you read something, you become word blind. I must have read the cover for my self published book Captain Of The Wight more times than I can recall and still it went out with the date 1442 on the back instead of 1482…
Morgen: Ouch. How do you edit – on screen or on paper?
Dorothy: On screen. I get bored working with paper. On screen I can make the alterations immediately and do search and replace if an author is consistently making an error. One book I had the author had site for sight throughout, so I did search and replace.
Morgen: You’re a writer too, does being a writer as well influence your editing at all?
Dorothy: I am a full time writer as well as a full time editor. I write extensively, short stories, novels, articles, all sorts. The editing influences the writing, I am aware of errors and try to avoid them and the writing influences the editing as I can see how it should be done and what flows.
Morgen: 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?