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Kristen Tate, Kristen Tatroe, Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson 00:02
Well, hello, everybody. I just got confirmation of something I’ve been wondering about for a long time. The computer told me that I am indeed alive, or maybe it just said, you are live. But thank you for tuning in everybody. We’re really happy to have you here. And I’m very happy to have my two guests. The two Kristens is the joke I’ve made over and over again at this point, so I’m sure they’re tired of it. But and as I said before the show started, I’m gonna let Kristen introduce yourself.
Kristen Tate 00:33
Thanks, Kevin. It’s so good to be here. I feel like Kristen and I both agree that you can never have too many Kristens. So like, whenever you have one of us, you should have both of us, is how we always live. So I’m Kristen Tate. I run a freelance editing business called the Blue Garrett. So I’ve been editing full time since oh, seven or eight years now, I think. Yeah, so I work with mostly indie authors. So you know, a lot of folks in your audience. I work mostly on fiction in a range of genres. So that’s me. Kristen?
Kristen Tatroe 01:09
Thank you, Kristen. I am Kristen Tatroe. And I just want to let you all know that no, Kristen and I did not talk about our outfits before this today. We’re just that in tune.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:20
They’re just determined to confuse the hell out of me, is what it is.
Kristen Tatroe 01:23
On Thursdays Kristens wear black. That’s what we do. So I’m Kristen Tatroe. And I’m also a freelance editor. I do not have a business name. I just work under my name. And I’ve been freelancing on and off for about 15 years. I too work on fiction. I also work on memoir and cookbooks. I have a culinary background. And I’m also an instructional designer. So I’m all over the place. But I work primarily with indie authors. And that pretty much sums up me.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:54
Very good. We were talking about Venn diagrams before the show started. The two of you have a Venn diagram. Apparently, the three of us have a Venn diagram. First of all, all of our initials are KT. Did anybody notice that? And I used to do instructional design for the oil and gas industry.
Kristen Tatroe 02:15
How did we not talk about this at the Writers Conference? You and I need to talk about that, Kevin. I do instructional design for the oil and gas industry.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:23
I’m glad you brought up the Writers Conference in vague terms. But we all met. We have met a couple of times now, I believe, at the San Francisco Writers Conference, right? Is that where you guys are, are both of you in the Bay Area or no?
Kristen Tate 02:38
Yes, that’s part of the middle part of the Venn diagram.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:41
That’s the middle part of the Venn diagram.
Kristen Tatroe 02:43
I’m in the other Bay, though. I’m down in Monterey Bay in the Santa Cruz area, whereas Kristen is up in in the real Bay Area.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:50
I live in Texas. So I have no idea what any of these places are. I only know San Francisco, everything within 100 miles of San Francisco is San Francisco to me. And I write about San Francisco quite a bit now because I’m always there. So I’m like, oh, that’s a setting I know well enough. So I want us to jump in because it came up a little before. And we’ve talked about this. And this is something both of you are involved in. But you’re both members of the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association. That’s a mouthful. So we’re just going to shorten that to EFA. Which you guys said, I think you need credit for that. You guys actually said we should shorten that to EFA. So tell us a little bit about the EFA.
Kristen Tate 03:42
Yeah, sure. So it’s a nationwide organization of about 3000 editors, indexers, copywriters, ghost writers, a lot of folks who work with words in different ways, and we’re all independent freelancers. So you know, whatever you need for your book production, you can likely find one of our members who specialize in that. So the really great part for authors is that if you go to the EFA website, which is the-efa.org, I’m pretty sure there is a directory that you can search by specialty and that drills down even to like genre specialties. You can search and it will pop up everyone who’s a part of that. I think there’s a hyphen in there. We’re editing here on the fly. This is what editors can do for you. No pressure.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:38
Okay, no, no, the-efa.org. Yeah, here it is on the screen everybody. Feel free to jot that down.
Kristen Tate 04:48
End the really powerful tool, so this is what I recommend for people who have a very specific project or are looking for something with very detailed expertise or they’re in a rush, there’s a free job list service. So you can kind of write up all the parameters about your project, what your budget is, all of that, and submit it, and then that gets pushed out to all 3000 members. And then you’ll get people in your inbox who think that they’re a good fit for your work. So it’s just an instant way to get pretty regularly a few dozen responses from folks who are ready and available to work on your project.
Kristen Tatroe 05:28
And what’s great about it is you can specify your budget, you can put comments in there about particulars, you know, I’ve seen listings where someone says, I really want someone who knows the New England area, because that’s where it’s set. It’s nice to be able to specify that. But there are people like me who don’t know the New England area, who might also be a good fit. And I might put my name in and say, here’s why I think I’m a good fit, even though I don’t know the New England area. And then you can also go on the website, and put in search parameters, if you are looking specifically for a ghost writer, or instructional designer actually is one of our categories. There’s all sorts of categories and different criteria that you can use to search. So there’s a couple of different ways to access. And as Kristen said, it’s all free to authors. So there’s no cost.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:21
No cost to search, but you still … Yeah, you got to specify that kind of thing. Free editing, all right. There no free editing. Okay, so what would be, so is it all types of editors? Like what are some of the categories of editors that are out there?
Kristen Tate 06:43
So we have like medical editors, technical editors. Kristen and I know an editor who one of her specialties is board game editing. Really people find themselves in interesting little niches. And so you can find someone with very specific experience in there.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:06
That’s very cool. Have you ever … Go ahead.
Kristen Tatroe 07:10
Oh, I was gonna say in a broader sense, different types of editors, we have editors who work on all the entire process of editing, from developmental editing or book coaching, which is creating the manuscript and looking at the big picture, to line editing, that is more looking at the language of the sentences. So you’re drilling down to the paragraph or the sentence level, to copy editing, which is more of the mechanical aspects of editing, like the grammar, the syntax, the punctuation, making sure words are spelled right, all the way to proofreading and indexing. You know, it’s the whole gamut of the publishing process really.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:48
Excellent. Yeah, I was gonna ask about that side of it. Especially, a lot of people are keen on developmental editing now. And it’s really difficult to find somebody who is qualified. Not qualified, but you know, how do you know if you’ve got a good developmental editor?
Kristen Tatroe 08:09
That’s an excellent question. Do you mind if I take that one, Kristen?
Kevin Tumlinson 08:13
As long as Kristen answers.
Kristen Tatroe 08:15
Yes. Excellent. Good. This, I can tell, is going to be the long running joke.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:24
Everyone I work with right now is rolling their eyes.
Kristen Tatroe 08:27
That’s all right. We are used to it and we enjoy it. So I am actually a developmental editor. I do developmental editing as well as copy editing. And there is no certification out there. If you are an author looking to hire a developmental editor, you want someone who reads in your genre. So for instance, I will copy edit horror and mysteries and thrillers, but I won’t do developmental editing on them simply because I don’t read them. And so I don’t know the genre well enough. They want someone who knows the basics of how a narrative works. You want someone who knows how the characters work with the story. Are those characters actually going to propel the narrative? I’ve had some very difficult conversations with clients where I’m going, I know this character is wonderful, and you wrote them beautifully. But we need to axe them, because they’re not doing anything for your story. Just, you know, we’re not going to kill them. We’re going to just put them in their own little folder and you’ll save them for a future project. So we’re just putting in their own happy little holding cell or farm.
Kristen Tate 09:35
Not that kind of farm.
Kristen Tatroe 09:39
But it’s really hard to do a sample edit for a developmental edit because developmental edit, you’re looking at the entire manuscript, right? You can do a sample edit for copy editing, and you can show them how you would mark up mechanics, but with developmental editing, it’s really hard to get a sense of how your editor is going to mark things up for you, so really, it’s a bigger conversation in the querying process. I have a questionnaire. And I think Kristen, you also do this too, as part of my querying process, seeing if we’ll be a good fit for each other, me and the author, and say, what are you looking for? What parts of your manuscript are you really feeling are strong? What parts of your manuscript do you feel need some help? What are you expecting out of this relationship? So that’s where the conversation comes in.
Kristen Tate 10:31
Yeah, yeah. And I would add to that, I mean, absolutely look for someone who knows and loves your genre, really knows the tropes, and then also look at that person’s communication style. Because that is going to, you know, so much of the developmental editing process is about communication. Is this editor going to be able to deliver the feedback you need? But also are they going to deliver it in the way that you can hear it, and use constructively? And they’re just, you know, some people really like folks who are super direct, and just kind of lay everything out. Some people like a little bit more hand holding, or like some coaching kind of after they get their feedback. So they can kind of get some help as they go from getting that feedback to getting into the revision process. Some people like to get on Zoom calls, some people like to work just over email. So you know, those are things to think about. And I don’t … Kristen’s right that it’s hard to do kind of a sample edit for developmental editing. But I will, when I’m starting to talk to a new potential client, I’ll ask them to send me their first few chapters. And I will send back just some kind of, you know, feedback on the first few pages, like basically kind of my observations about, you know, this is working really beautifully. Have you thought about this? Here’s another spot where I was confused, or you missed an opportunity maybe here, so they get a sense of just my communication style. So I would encourage folks who are looking for a new editor to pay attention to your gut, and find someone who knows their stuff. But also, make sure you’re paying attention to how you like to communicate just with people in everyday life, because that’s going to really impact your relationship with your editor.
Kristen Tatroe 12:28
Finding the right editor is like finding the right therapist. For reals. Jenny Lawson, the blogess, was a keynote speaker at our …
Kevin Tumlinson 12:36
A good friend of mine, Jenny.
Kristen Tatroe 12:38
Oh, really? She’s amazing. Yeah, she put ice packs in her shirt during her keynote speech. She was like, I’m just keeping it real, y’all. And we’re like, we love you. But she was our keynote speaker at our recent conference. And she said that. I’ve heard that before, but it was validating hearing it from a bestselling author who is well known. It really is. I mean, I’ve certainly come across projects that I would have loved to have worked on. But I could just see that we weren’t going to be a good fit. And so the beautiful thing about the EFA is, we editors talk to each other, the members talk to each other. And I happily refer out projects that I either don’t have time for or are not a good fit to my colleagues. And those are vetted, trusted colleagues.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:23
Yeah. So I gotta ask this kind of question, because I know people are thinking it. What’s the advantage of going with the EFA over, say, going to Fiverr, or some other freelancer service to find an editor?
Kristen Tate 13:40
I mean, I think the big thing is, we pay a membership fee to belong to the organization. And the EFA also helps train editors, there are classes all the time, you know, our chapter hosts meetings where we bring in other editors and specialists. So, you know, when you’re communicating with those editors, you know you have folks who are taking their profession seriously. They’ve been in the business for a while, they are connected enough to know that this organization exists. And they’ve put some money into joining it to be part of their resources. So, you know, that’s part of it, is just having someone who’s not a … I’m sure there are college students who are excellent editors, but also maybe not as experienced. So, you know, I think that’s a big thing. We don’t have a certification process, but working with someone who is a member of our organization just means that you’ve got someone who is at least linked in to all of these educational resources and professional development opportunities.
Kristen Tatroe 14:44
And if you’re a self-publishing author who is looking for an editor, ask your potential editor what kind of professional development they’ve done, what kind of background they’ve done, that relates to your project. It’s just like hiring any professional. You wouldn’t just hire the cheapest plumber. I’m borrowing Kristen’s analogy here. I’ve heard this one before. So full disclosure, this is Kristen’s analogy, not mine. And that, you know, sure, you could hire the cheapest plumber, it depends on how much you feel like rolling the dice. And there are some excellent colleagues who work on Fiverr and work on Fiverr Pro. And so I’m not trying to besmirch Fiverr at all. But what I have seen largely is a race to the bottom, unfortunately. And if all you’re doing is going for the cheapest professional, then you’re probably going to get what you paid for, sadly. You want the plumber who can say, here is all my years of experience, here are all the different types of plumbing I’ve worked with. Same thing with an editor. Here are my testimonials, go to my website, go to my bio, and the EFA. And you don’t find that with Fiverr. I will also say that there are members of Fiverr who are not native English speakers. That is not to say that a non-native English speaker can’t be a good English editor. I love the global economy. However, I do see that there are some listings there where they say, oh, I can do a developmental edit on your entire novel for $250. I would hesitate at that, if you see that listing. It sounds enticing. But again, you’re probably going to get what you paid for.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:27
Yeah. And I frequently, whenever I’ve used editors like that, I’ve gotten results that I, you know … Here’s the problems. Here’s your list. And I’ll look through and I’m like, okay, so that’s not an error. That’s not misspelled. So I get a lot of that. And it’s usually because they’re, maybe they are UK English or something, sometimes that happens. Well, good. Okay. Yeah. And like you said, we don’t want to dog on Fiverr. But yeah, if you can go to an organization that’s filled with professionals that talk to each other and train each other, that’s got to be an advantage. So each of you, both of you have your own independent editing practices, right? Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about your individual processes, your editing processes. And I’ll let you guys scrap it out on who goes first.
Kristen Tate 17:26
What do you think? You want me to dive in first?
Kristen Tatroe 17:28
Go for it.
Kristen Tate 17:31
All right. So for me, it really depends on what kind of editing I’m doing. Like Kristin Tatroe, I do both developmental editing and copy/line editing. So, you know, developmental editing, it depends on how kind of intensive I’m going to be. So I offer a manuscript evaluation, which means I’m just doing one read through of the novel. I usually do that on a tablet, sometimes I print it out actually. Sorry, trees. Because, you know, we’re all staring at computers so much, it’s sometimes a nice opportunity to get away, and I’ll just like work on pencil and paper. And I take notes, and then at the end of my read through I’ll write up a big editorial letter for the author. That’s kind of the main thing they get back, broken down into kind of categories about what were the strengths, what are the weaknesses, and then when we get into those areas for improvement, you know, all different kinds of categories, depending on what’s going on in the book, so point of view, or character arcs, or whatever. And then usually, there’s a list of kind of just a punch list of individual things that I noticed. And then if I’m doing kind of a full content edit, I also will then go back and do a second read, where I do comments directly on the manuscript that kind of show examples or are more detailed. So that’s what a content edit looks like. And then a copy edit is actually quite different. Because then I need, I’m sitting in front of this enormous screen right now. And I have my, what’s called a style sheet, which is what … again, this is where a trained editor, this is how we’re trained to do this. So our style sheet is kind of like the rule book we’re creating for your book. It’s about, you know, what kind of spelling you’re using. Do you like to spell T-shirts with a capital T hyphen shirts? Or do you like to spell it in two words, tee shirts, right? We’re tracking all of those little things in your document to make sure it’s consistent. We’re fact checking names. So I’ll also have up a little window with Merriam Webster dictionary in it, with Google, where I’m like sending things over to be fact checked, and I have my manuscript in the middle. And it really is going through word by word, line by line, with a fine tooth comb, like is everything in a sentence correct? Is it clear? And then, is it elegant? Right? Is there a tweak I can see that would make this even better than it already is? So yeah, that’s my process for those two things. And editors tend to have very different, like when we get into the details, we all have very different ways of handling things.
Kristen Tatroe 20:27
Absolutely. But then we also have some similar things. So I’ll compare apples to apples here. My manuscript critique service is, I do it exactly the way that Kristen does it. I also offer for, so Kristen calls her content editing is what I call my developmental editing. Same thing. There are different names.
Kristen Tate 20:49
It makes it harder for authors. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:51
Thank you for that.
Kristen Tatroe 20:53
Yeah. The thing that you will hear from editors more than anything is consistency is key, above all things. Like Kristen said, in your manuscript. It’s up to you whether you want the capital T or you want to spell it out, lowercase tee, for T-shirt.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:11
By the way, the correct way is the capital T. I’m just gonna throw it out there.
Kristen Tatroe 21:15
Kevin Tumlinson style guide says so. You’re gonna get us into the Oxford comma, aren’t you?
Kristen Tate 21:25
No, I was like, okay, we need to pull up Google Ingram right now, like, we can answer this question. Which is more popular?
Kristen Tatroe 21:32
But that’s not the answer, what’s more popular. He said this was what was correct. And here’s the thing, what’s correct is what the author wants it to be. We editors may not agree with it, we definitely have our own opinions. But in the end …
Kevin Tumlinson 21:45
Okay, I have to know though, where do we stand on the Oxford comma? I know where I stand on the Oxford comma.
Kristen Tatroe 21:51
Okay, I’ll digress to that. I’m a fan of the Oxford comma. I am all for making things as clear as possible.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:59
Okay, that’s one vote.
Kristen Tate 22:00
Yeah, you’re not going to go wrong if the Oxford comma is there. You can really have unintended meanings if you leave it out. So it’s always safter to have it.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:11
I think so too. I always feel like that’s a better default, because you can do the sentence without it just fine. But if you include it, you’re not going to mess anything up.
Kristen Tatroe 22:22
And here’s the thing. There’s so much more going on in the world right now to get all upset about than the Oxford comma.
Kristen Tate 22:30
I just feel like we’ve settled it. We all agree.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:33
It’s Oxford comma, its capital T, it’s GIF not “jiff.” That’s an internal debate at Draft2Digital, by the way.
Kristen Tate 22:46
Oh, I’m team GIF. That’s how you pronounce the acronym.
Kristen Tatroe 22:53
I mean, here’s the thing. And I tell all of my clients this. In the end, I’ve coined this phrase from another editor who coined it from someone else, I’m a coin operated editor. If you want it to be spelled tee-shirt, cool, I’ll put it in your stylesheet. And for your manuscript, that is the way it will be, I will make sure it’s consistent throughout. I will have my personal opinions about it. And I’ll mope to my cat about it and go, what are they thinking? But with you, I will be professional and go, awesome. Everything is spelled tee, because that’s what I do. But as far as process, my processes are very similar to Kristen’s. I will also do a follow up with my clients with a manuscript critique, and a developmental edit. I have them schedule an hour long follow up via Zoom, it’s included in their fee. And I ask them to do that a month or two after they’ve had time to digest my comments. The first thing I tell them when I return their manuscript is, go ahead and read through it tonight. And then I want you to put it away. Because you will inevitably be upset at me. It’s normal.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:58
I hate it. I hate that I do that. But I do. I don’t say anything. But I’m like, cussing under my breath whenever I get edits. It’s like, what the hell, and I think that’s a natural response. Because you’re messing with someone’s words, right?
Kristen Tatroe 24:14
I don’t know, I think “messing with” is a little bit strong. We’re gently pointing out how your words can be improved.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:28
From the author’s perspective, you’re screwing with our words. So how do you, when you get that backlash and I’m sure you do, what’s the diplomatic way to deal with that sort of thing?
Kristen Tatroe 24:37
I mean, I’ve not had anyone really explode at me. I’ve had someone say it’s really hard to read this, like, I’m feeling like I shouldn’t even be writing and so therein comes the therapist side of things. Especially with first time authors. I have my work critiqued. It’s hard to hear someone say, this could sound better when you have labored over that one sentence for hours. And you’ve gotten it perfect, and the syntax is great, and you’ve chosen just the right words. And then they point it out, and that’s why I ask them to take a step back. I ask them to take a step back and give it at least a day, or ideally a week. Go back, read the comments again, and all of my clients have said, it was great taking that time. Because they were able to read it from a non-emotional standpoint. And they say, okay, I agree with this, I don’t agree with this. And they were able to have a conversation with me. And I’ve had clients where I’ve pointed out something going, I think that this would be stronger if you did X, Y, or Z. And they come back, well, I want to do it this way because of this. And I said, ah, that’s a good point. Then what if we were to do this here instead, to strengthen your point? It’s all a back and forth conversation. I don’t take it personally. Well, I try not to take it personally, I try to remember that I too, am a writer. I, I too, am a creative person. It’s really hard to get that outside feedback. But in the end, that’s what authors are doing, you’re gonna want to put it out there in the world. And so you have to be open to that. Also, your readers are not always going to receive your work the way you intended.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:14
By the way, that brings up a good question. And one I’ve wondered about a lot, because, you know, I’ve tried, I am not an editor. I admire what you guys do, but I could never do it. I’m a writer, and that’s it. But when you get a manuscript from someone, is it difficult if you’re not interested in it? If it’s not resonating with you as literature, is it difficult to do the edit?
Kristen Tate 26:42
It makes it harder. And that’s again why, you know, I don’t take every project that comes in the door, right? Because if I work on something like that, that’s doing the author a disservice, ultimately, right? So that’s when I say, go check out the EFA directory, or my colleague Kristen Tatroe I think would be a perfect fit for this. That said, there are always moments, like, this is work for us, just as for writers, there’s a point where you’re like, I hate this, why am I doing this, I want to quit. And of course, we have moments like that, too. And I think, you know, we were just talking about readers. That’s the way, if I feel disengaged at any point, or just fatigued or whatever, I try to think about the readers down the road, I find that very inspiring and invigorating, right? So our job as editors is to be kind of an author’s reader stand in, right? So I try to, when I’m doing comments in the manuscript, like, there are all these LOLs and haha’s, and I’m trying to give them my reaction, because authors don’t really get that directly from their readers unless they’re doing an author event or something. So, you know, that’s what I try to do is, I’m a reader, I read all the time, constantly. I just love what books can do for us. And so, you know, I just try to reconnect with myself as a reader and think about the other readers that this text is going to get to eventually, if I get to a point where I’m flagging at all. Yeah, because it does happen.
Kristen Tatroe 28:24
I would agree with that. Like Kristin said, this is our work. This is our livelihood. I’ve certainly taken on projects that if I was given the choice, I probably wouldn’t have taken on, but I needed to fill my calendar because I need money to live. What? I know, so sorry y’all, we do not just do this for fun, we do this to pay the bills.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:48
Well, that’s just disappointing.
Kristen Tatroe 28:52
I know. We’re just capitalist. But even in the, shall I say, drier work that I do, I too take that standpoint, I’m trying to think of the end user, whether that be a learner, if I’m copy editing courses, or doing course consultation, or copy editing instruction manuals. Well, you know, Kevin, some of that technical stuff. It’s not exactly enthralling.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:21
No Pulitzers coming from that sector of writing.
Kristen Tatroe 29:27
No. But I take enjoyment just from the act of editing. I take this perverse joy in knowing that I’ve cleaned up a little part of the world. And I’ve taken all of these little typos out of it, and it’s out there and it’s cleaner and it’s better. No matter, the smallest project up to the biggest project.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:46
I have to say, by the way, looping back slightly to the idea of putting little comments in the margins or something else, pointing out where you thought something was funny, I think that’s invaluable. That’s almost more valuable to me than fixing typos and telling me, you know, you named this character Karen. And she’s Kathy in chapter three, or whatever. I mean, I’m almost going to value that stuff more. Because we don’t get that feedback at all until maybe later. Maybe. You know, we’ll craft some incredible sentences, and we never hear whether they landed or not.
Kristen Tate 30:26
Yeah. Well, and that’s part of it, that also helps authors hear the tougher stuff. My editorial letters, I don’t know where I picked this up from, this is not my invention, but like the concept of the praise sandwich, right? You want to start with the good stuff, and then we talk about areas to improve. And then at the end of those letters, I also remind authors that this is their book, right? This is not my book, it’s their book. And as Kristin Tatroe was saying, there’s always, even if they disagree with whatever idea I might have floated for how to make something better, as long as they get to the point where they agree that it could be better, they can always find and often do find an even better idea for how to improve it. So you know, I’ve given them XYZ, but then they come back and they found A, and that is brilliant, right? It’s even better. So, you know, that’s just a way to help things along. And also, you know, if writers know what they’re doing well and know what their strengths are, then they can lean on those in future projects. So it’s just a win win for everyone.
Kristen Tatroe 31:38
Sorry, I just keep talking over you, Kevin. I don’t want to hear you talk. I just want it to be me the whole time.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:42
We just want to talk at the same time. That’s what we’re here for. No, everybody hears me all the time. So you go ahead.
Kristen Tatroe 31:49
I 100% agree with everything Kristen said. I’m sitting here going, yep. Yep. Yep. One of the most gratifying parts of our jobs in our job is seeing writers take into their next work or further along in their manuscript, comments we’ve made and tips that we’ve made and absorbed that in their writing craft. I tell all my clients, my hope is that by the end of this project, you will have strengthened your craft even more to carry you into your next project. I see comments all the time on my social media groups, my editing social media groups, where they say, this author came back to me for a second book and it was amazing seeing them tighten up their dialogue, and then not use a bunch of thesaurus words. Okay, full disclosure, it’s really obvious when y’all are going to the thesaurus, everybody. Please don’t tie yourself in knots trying to find another word for said, you’re just going to make yourself anxious. But, you know, like Kristin said, we need to tell people what they’re doing right so they can build on that. And then correct the things that can be corrected and just continue to be better and better.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:05
Yeah. Speaking of thesaurus words, we have a question from Stardust, who is trying to trip me up. “What is your feeling about using grandiloquent words in fiction? Is it a speed bump?” So you tried to trip me up, Stardust, but I came back at you.
Kristen Tate 33:28
I mean, I think you have to be really careful, right? Like, have you have you earned that word? Does it fit in with what is around it? If you’re using a kind of a showstopper word, do you want readers to stop right there? Do you want them to notice the word? Or are you in the middle of like a high stakes, high action scene, fast paced scene and you want them to keep going? I mean, that’s not the place to put in your $5 word. So, you know, it really is a case by case basis. And as Kristen Tatroe was saying, please don’t do this in your dialogue tags. Said is totally fine. Like it’s fine. Just use said.
Kristen Tatroe 34:11
Yeah. Use the word healthy instead of salubrious. I love salubrious. It’s one of my favorite words. But
Kevin Tumlinson 34:18
Yeah. Salubrious. It rolls off the tongue though.
Kristen Tatroe 34:23
It does. But is your intention to send your readers to a dictionary every other sentence or every paragraph? You know, like Kristen Tate said, it’s the context. If you’re in fiction that’s an easy read, we’re talking romance, that’s a happily ever after. Your readers are not going to want to be stopped. For the most part. I know I’m making a blanket statement here. But for the most part, your readers are not going to want to be stopped in the middle of that scene. And you know what scene I’m talking about. To describe actions.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:59
A lot of that stuff tends to read almost as parody. I’m in the middle of first round edits on something right now. And I have a character though, who drops the five letter words every other word, and then you’ll have others kind of comment on it. So there’s a different scenario where, even if you’re not defining those terms for the reader, the reader is going to pick up on, okay, this is being done on purpose. I am supposed to be confused by what this arrogant guy is saying.
Kristen Tate 35:32
Yeah, it’s part of the character voice. I think that’s great. That’s a great way to kind of distinguish. And I think what writers forget, is like, there’s so much you can do just with like sentence variation, and where you put a verb versus your subject in the sentence and, you know, having a bunch of long sentences and then a really short punchy one, there’s just so much you can do there. Word choice is really far down the ladder of things that you can play with.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:06
More questions. Let’s see, this is from Lexi Greene. “Are there things authors can do to be easier to work with as an editor?”
Kristen Tatroe 36:15
Oh, you’re all you’re all superstars in our book.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:19
You’d say that, I mean come on.
Kristen Tatroe 36:21
Also, I’m open for bookings in October. So I’ll take the lead on this one, Kristen, if you’re okay with that. We’re not really this nice in real life, everyone. It’s just us being professional. Yes, well, this is more something easier for you, don’t come into this with a preconception that your editor is going to steal your work, or judge you on your work. I promise you, I’m not judging your work. I am taking my professional eye to your work. I have my own personal opinions. But that’s not what you’re hiring me for, you’re hiring me to look at it with an editorial eye and to help you create a better version of your manuscript. We’re artists, all of us are artists. Kristen mentioned the stylesheet. I’m in the middle of revamping my website, but I’m going to put up on my website, probably in the new year, kind of a template for a style sheet that I want to provide to my clients. It’s actually a great exercise for you as an author to, especially if you’ve made up names, or proper names of places or people or things, to create a style sheet in alphabetical order of all how all of these words are spelled. If you supply that to your editor, we will praise you to the ends of the earth. Because you will also be saving us time and effort in terms of our attention span, creating that. So if we already have a stylesheet to build on, that’s fantastic. We will be double checking that stylesheet to make sure it’s consistent. And also, we hear this a lot. We love that you’re confident about your work. We love that you’re excited. And I’ll probably lose some fans here. But please don’t come to us and tell us that your book is going to be a bestseller.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:20
Yeah. Just avoid saying that phrase to anybody, honestly.
Kristen Tatroe 38:25
I really hope it is. Yeah, I absolutely hope it is.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:29
Right. That’s not to say we don’t want your book to be a bestseller. But you can’t know that.
Kristen Tatroe 38:35
You know, and you can say I hope this is going to be a bestseller. Like, telling me you hope it’s gonna be a bestseller is completely different from, this is going to be a bestseller. So you should be honored to work on it.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:44
So don’t screw up. Is that the implication? Like, if it’s not a bestseller, I know it’s because of you.
Kristen Tatroe 38:51
You know, that is a risk. I mean, I haven’t had it happen to me personally. But anecdotally, I’ve heard it from colleagues who say that their authors have come back and gotten upset because their book isn’t selling. I’m really sorry to hear that. But we edit your book, we’re helping you create the product. It is up to you to market it and get it out there in the world, which is part of what Draft2Digital does. So you know, we do everything up to Draft2Digital, and then Draft2Digital steps in.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:22
Right, and then we take care of most of the rest. So we got a follow up question on the style sheet thing. And this is a good question. “How does how does one create a style sheet?”
Kristen Tate 39:35
Well, okay, so there are different … I have one on my website as well. But again, like this is something where like, if you ask 10 editors to show their style sheets, they’re all going to look different. In part, it definitely can be faster if an author, for example, gives me a list of character names. So on my style sheets, I have a list of just kind of general rules, like our dictionary for this project is Merriam Webster or its, you know, Oxford, depending on what part of global English we’re using. And things like, you know, are we using Oxford comma? Those kinds of things. So like rules for your whole book. And then I have a section of all the character names and then kind of any details that they have, especially things that, you know, eye color is notorious for changing across the manuscript, or someone has a tattoo or whatever, anything that might come back up, I’ll put that on the style sheet, not just for that book, but especially for writers who are writing in series, you know, those things can come up four books down the line. And then if it’s on the style sheet, we don’t have to go search for it in book one, it’s just there. So if it was in the book, it goes on the style sheet. And then I also do a timeline for all novels, because inevitably, there’ll be something like, last Saturday, they were at such and such place. And actually, if you kind of look back with the dates, it doesn’t all pan out. And I work on a lot of mystery novels. And for readers who are trying to follow along and solve the mystery alongside the detective character, or whatever, that’s really frustrating. So I don’t want them to follow up on a clue that should be correct and isn’t. So I do kind of a timeline to make sure everything matches up. And then below that there’s a terms list. And this is something that all copy editors will have. It’s just a list of spelling’s that we’ve looked up, or spellings that can be different ways. So like, okay, is another one that I almost always have on a style sheet. Do you prefer toward or towards? These are just subtle things where we’re trying to do this as copy editors. Readers might not ever notice this, but I do kind of feel like it just makes your book. This is what a traditional publisher would do for your book. And so our job is to know what traditional publishers are doing and to give you the same experience, right? So there is just kind of a subtle thing of making sure all those tiny little details are exactly right. So if an author comes to me with a style sheet, I will start from that. And then I double check it, as Kristen Tatroe was saying, going along, because we do …
Kevin Tumlinson 42:25
The timeline thing alone would be something I wouldn’t be willing to pay for. Because yeah, I could very much use timelines on all my books. So I’m pretty convinced that they’re all wrong.
Kristen Tatroe 42:35
It’s kind of amazing when you have a character who, the character is pregnant. The character has the baby. But your timeline is only two weeks long.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:44
Yeah. Or 27 months later she’s giving birth.
Kristen Tatroe 42:55
This is true. I just want to add one comment about the style sheet. It is also a useful tool for your proofreader. Proofreaders need those style sheets, because proofreading is different than copy editing. But here I’m gonna throw y’all a curve again. Some editors call their light copy editing service proofreading. Because our clients, they say, oh, this just needs a proofread. Nine times out of 10 it actually needs a developmental edit, I’m sorry to tell you. Or it doesn’t need a proofread, it just needs a copy edit. And what you’re calling a proofread actually is a copy edit. So true proofreading is comparing the next, like what the book will look like, compared to the last version of your manuscript, making sure that all of those editing ticks were taken care of, all of the corrections were actually made, nothing has gotten weird with formatting between the last version and this version, and proofreaders need those style sheets to make sure that everything is still consistent in there, because proofreaders are the last set of eyes on your manuscript before it gets published.
Kevin Tumlinson 44:07
Oh, that’s a good way to look at it. We got one last question here. And this is actually coming from our mutual friend Jim Azevedo. Yes. He says, “I’ve had authors tell me you don’t need an editor because they were an English major or journalism major. How do you convince someone like that?”
Kristen Tate 44:26
I mean, I think this is where the training comes in. So like, you know, you want to hire an editor who has been trained as a copy editor. So for book publishing in particular, we use Chicago Manual of style. Totally different from what they use in journalism. They use AP style, right, which means no Oxford comma. There are different capitalization rules, actually a lot of things that are different. And if you’re applying those rules, or those things that you’re familiar with, which you probably are, you were trained to do certain things certain ways, it’s actually going to read like magazine writing and not like a book, right? And readers pick up on those subtle differences. So that’s part of what we’re doing is, we’re applying book style to your manuscript.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:14
I’m gonna tell you, by the way, that English majors in general make terrible editors.
Kristen Tate 45:21
I mean, I started as an English major.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:24
I’m also an English major, but they make terrible editors, because it’s always like, well, you used a contraction. Well, it’s someone who’s speaking. So come on.
Kristen Tatroe 45:33
Yes, we can end a sentence in a preposition and we can start sentences with conjunctions, right? Look at us go. Yes, we get this question a lot. Or, you know, my partner has read it, and they have a degree in English, or they used to teach English third grade. Again, I’m sounding like I’m just coming down on people. I am not besmirching teachers. I have a creative writing degree in fiction. I will still hire an editor to look at my work. Because I’m too close to it, my brain will fill in gaps. And I know what is in my head, I need someone who is not in my head to read it, whether that be a copy edit, or a developmental edit. Members of the EFA, we tend to stay on top of trends, because trends in publishing change all the time. And that’s awesome that you have an English degree from 20 years ago or more. But that’s not necessarily going to inform you about what the tropes and the trends are in mystery these days and what’s been working and what’s not. Or, you know, what the readers may be able to absorb better.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:49
Yeah, that’s interesting, actually, the trends, I hadn’t really thought about trends as they would impact editing.
Kristen Tate 46:57
Oh, yeah. We talk about this all the time, especially like words. Like, there is editor Twitter and we are on there being like, have we stopped using this word?
Kevin Tumlinson 47:06
Okay, I have to post this one because I fear I have kicked a hornet’s nest. “I would like to know why you think English majors are poor editors?” And I want to say, I’m the one who said that. And I don’t think that all English majors are poor editors. But some of the edit suggestions I get that are among the worst come from people who start their sentences with, I was an English major. And so that’s all. That’s all it is.
Kristen Tatroe 47:34
It is a little pedantic. There are, I adore my colleagues. I adore my profession. Editor Twitter’s actually a fantastic place to be. I love the real time, ahh, hello, everybody. I can’t find an answer in Merriam Webster or Chicago Manual of Style. Is there supposed to be an apostrophe here or not? We get real time answers. But we there was a point I was making … pedantic. We do have some colleagues who can also be pedantic about it. And people who are so mired in that, no, it must be this way in the rules. Granted, I’m a fiction editor. So is Kristen Tate, so we have a little more leeway. There are no hard and fast rules, and especially American English, there are fewer hard and fast rules than there are exceptions. You know, we’re an amalgamation of languages. And that is always changing too. Language is evolving.
Kevin Tumlinson 48:26
Right. Especially our language. So last comment, and then we got to wrap up. But this expresses I think, the idea. Jen says, “I think it’s that just because you were an English major, you’re not necessarily a good editor. But you can be if you have the training.” And that’s the sentiment I would like us to leave on, because I didn’t mean to offend any English majors.
Kristen Tate 48:55
And to go back around to the EFA, like, if you’re an author or an English major, and you think you want to be an editor, which is a fabulous job, I love my job. This is truly the best job. Go check out the EFA because that’s where you can get training and learn how to be a good editor.
Kevin Tumlinson 49:13
And again, that’s the-efa.org. That’s where you can go. And you guys have like training materials and things like that, you said. There you go. So even if you’re just interested in becoming an editor, that might be a good thing to go and dip your toes into.
Kristen Tatroe 49:30
Or reach out to one of us. We’ll be happy to chat with you.
Kevin Tumlinson 49:33
Speaking of reaching out to one of the two Kristens, here are their web addresses on your screen now. It’s kristenedits.com. I inserted an extra e in there, Kristen. So I edited it on the fly. So kristenedits.com and thebluegarrett.com.
Kristen Tate 49:54
And if you’re not sure you can also, we are very familiar with getting an email that’s intended for one or the other. So yeah, get one of us and we’ll help you out.
Kristen Tatroe 50:03
We just steal each other’s clients.
Kevin Tumlinson 50:05
Start with “Hi Kristen” and go from there. All right. Well, thank you both for putting up with my dad jokes and my criticism of English majors. And thank you for being on the show. You were both great. I think there was a lot of great information here. So really appreciate you taking the time.
Kristen Tate 50:22
It was a lot of fun. Thanks for having us.
Kristen Tatroe 50:23
Yeah, this was a pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting us.
Kevin Tumlinson 50:25
You got it. Everyone else, thank you for tuning in. As always, if you are interested in finding out more about upcoming live streams, make sure you bookmark d2dlive.com and follow us on all the various platforms. If you type in basically anything slash Draft2Digital, you’re probably going to find us. If you don’t find us, let us know, because we should probably be there. So beyond that, thank you for tuning in. Tune in next week. We’re gonna another one of these lined up and we’ll see you all next time. Take care everyone.