Adele Brinkley, Professional Editor - Behind the Scenes
This month we are talking with Adele Brinkley from With Pen in Hand, a professional editing service. So let’s get started with our questions.
I see that you were an English teacher for 28 years. Do you think this background translated naturally into editing?
Absolutley. It gave me the basics for editing. I remember in grad school in my first editing class in journalism that the first day the instructor asked how many of us were English teachers. Several of us proudly raised our hands. She smiled and said, "You folks will make the lowest grades." After the shock wore off, she explained that editing has a life of its own and that we would have to put some of our "knowledge" on the back burner. As the class progressed, I understood what she meant.
What style guide do you use? If someone uses a different one, how difficult is it for you to edit their work?
For editing dissertations, I work with APA only. In fiction and nonfiction, I tend to stay with MLA, but I'm flexible, especially with fiction. My rule of thumb is to use what works best for the flow of the story.
A lot of editors focus on a genre, such as fiction or non-fiction, whereas your site lists anything that has a need for edits, or at least a fresh pair of eyes. Why did you decide to go in this direction, or do you have a staff of editors who cover some of the items?
The genre really makes no difference to me, except for poetry and screenplays. I tend to stay away from them. Because I am and always have been an avid reader, most genres are good fits for me. However, I do love a good murder mystery.
What do you love about being an editor?
That's easy: the great manuscripts I receive. I have read some really good material. Even with the dissertations, I learn, no matter what the topic is.
How do you handle writers who think their words are golden and question your edits?
I explain my rationale behind the editing and give them the choice to accept or reject it. It is their call. I am a freelance editor and do not work with major book publishers who have onsite editors to solve issues of conflict. I am brutally honest with them because I want them to look good.
In the fiction genre is there a plot you think has been done to death? How about non-fiction subjects?
No, not really. Over the years, I have found that authors with the same ideas always add a twist or two that makes their stories unique. Rarely am I bored by a story. What really makes each story different is choice of words. Some authors make their work pop with imagery, others with dialogue.
What are the top mistakes that you see most writers make?
Many times I have to send manuscripts back to authors and encourage them to rewrite their projects.. I give them a head's up by listing the issues that they need to address: repetition, wordiness, lack of action verbs, lengthy paragraphs that drag and go nowhere, inconsistencies in characters' names, word choices, and errors in POV and verb tenses.
I tell them they must trust me with the edits in grammar. I am well versed in recognizing dangling or misplaced modifiers, pronoun and antecedent disagreement, subject-verb agreement, and so forth.
But the greatest of these is verb tenses.
What book(s) are you most proud of editing?
That's a tough one. Obviously, my chest swells every time one of "my" books wins an award, but I've also had many good ones that haven't been recognized. Because I edit a variety of genres, picking out any in particular is a little difficult
Do you have a set fee for various types of edits or only work with word count on a per word basis?
Yes, I charge a specific price per double spaced page in a 12 pt., Times Roman, Word document with standard margins for fiction and nonfiction manuscripts, I have a different price for dissertations and another price for short stories and letters.
How can someone connect with you to discuss the possibility of hiring you to edit their work?
Folks can "meet" me www.withpeninhand.net (my web page), or they may email me directly at Adele@withpeninhand.net.
To finish off her interview, Adele offers this advice.
Advice for established or novice authors: Keep writing; it's good for the soul.
Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to answer our questions, Adele.
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf started life in Kansas, continued her growing in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado.
Since discovering the fun of writing paranormal, she plays with creating vampires, faeries and other immortals. When she needs a touch of reality, her Contemporary Erotic Romances come into play. Her most recent release is Nordic Heat, available at http://amzn.to/1owng5k
If she’s not creating mischief for paranormal beings, or getting under the covers with her erotic heroes, she can be found exploring the other genres she wants to write. She also served as the 2012 President for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers and is the 2014 VP of Programs.
Lizzie loves to read, spend time with her family and travel with her best friend husband during her free time.