Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Interview with Our Editor, Pamela Gifford

We are grateful to have Pamela Gifford as the editor for Silly Tree Anthologies. We thought it might be interesting for our readers and authors to get to know Pam better and find out a little more about how the editing process works. Pamela agreed to do the following interview with us, which we hope you enjoy.

ST: Thank you so much for doing the interview, Pam. We really appreciate it. First, let’s get the basics out of the way. How did you get into editing and how long have you been doing it?

Pam: I eased into editing over several years, first as a slush and beta reader and then I started actually taking notes and making suggestions on the material I read. About three or four years ago, I bit the bullet and started freelancing.

ST: What are your credentials and who are some of the authors who have used your editing services?

Pam: A lot of people are aware that I decided to go back to college to pursue my teaching credentials in English. I’m halfway there with a high GPA so that’s part of my credentials. I work at the local community college as an English tutor (a.k.a The Best Job in the World). I’ve edited over a dozen books and novels including a non-fiction inspirational book from Katherine White and multiple romance novels from Australian author Jeanette Hornby.

ST: We know you are an author as well. Which you do enjoy more, editing or writing?

Pam: I enjoy the rough draft phase of writing more than anything. Revising and rewriting my own work, as well as editing the work of others, keeps me on my toes and I enjoy that, yes, but as a writer, when you  can churn out layers of words while embedded in that “zone”, there’s not another feeling like it.

ST: What are your favorite genres to write and edit?

Pam: Asking me to pick a favorite genre is like asking me to pick a favorite author or book. My tastes are eclectic so I enjoy pretty much a smattering of everything.

ST: Are there any genres you don’t like to edit?

Pam: No. I’ve edited non-fiction, science fiction, romance, thrillers… you name it and if I have any problem with a book at all, it isn’t the genre that I have a problem with but rather the book itself.

ST: How does the editing process work? 

Pam: I’m a constructive editor which means I look not only at grammar, structure, and all that jazz, but also at the believability, consistency, and flow of the storyline and characters. The first thing I do with new clients is get a writing sample. Over time, I’ve learned that there are some authors I just can’t help with the low fee I charge and that sample helps me determine who I can take on and who I must regretfully turn away, which doesn’t happen often. I read through a manuscript, comment on any issues I see and note any changes I make to grammar and structure. Some authors will take that first edit and run with it, others might pay me to do a second run-through which I approach in the same manner while keeping a look out for their changes (or reasons for lack of changes).

ST: How do you edit kindly and keep from killing a writer’s dreams while also helping them grow and learn?

Pam: I let them know that I’m not the Supreme Queen Editor of the Universe. The changes I make in their manuscript are only suggestions and they are free to accept those changes or decline them if they feel I’m wrong. It doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit; my opinion is my opinion and another editor or reader might feel differently and that’s completely okay. Also, though I may be critical in some areas, I make it a point to weave praise in there. I “LOL” in my comments when a certain scene tickles my funny bone, I comment, “Great job,” when a scene or a paragraph speaks to me… my type of editing isn’t just about pointing out what’s wrong but pointing out what’s right and give encouragement and praise where it’s due. 

ST: What are some suggestions you would offer authors that would make the process smoother for all involved?

Pam: A lot of writers will hire an editor because “it is the thing you’re supposed to do”. But that’s not why you should hire an editor. Before you hire an editor, ask yourself if you really want to learn from constructive criticism or if you just want someone to confirm that you are the best writer since the beginning of time. If you answered the former, the process with be a lot better for both you and your editor. No editor wants to deal with a writer who has a massive ego. No writer has it all figured out. There are always things to learn for both the writer and the editor. Thinking you know all there is to know is the quickest way to building a wall between you and your editor. It’s also the fastest way to stunt your growth as a writer.

ST: Is there anything else about editing in general or yourself as an editor, that you would like to share?

Pam: Like I say on my website, writers are different and editors are different. Both may be great at what they do but just not mesh well together. That’s completely okay. Find an editor that suits you and that you are comfortable with.

Having said that, it is important for writers to understand that editing is not an exact science. There are some hard and fast rules to writing but there are also many aspects to writing that can be a matter of opinion. Some writers despise adverbs and will tell you to avoid them at all costs. Other writers will say use them sparingly. Some writers hold stubbornly to concrete grammar rules while others will bend them to balance tone and voice in their work. It all depends on your style. Things that work for one writer may not work for another. Expecting all editors to work the exact same way based on a single set of rules isn’t realistic, just like expecting all writers to write the same way isn’t feasible.

Thank you for taking the time to ask me these questions. I hope I’ve been able to help someone understand the process a little better because after all, helping is my main goal.

You certainly helped us understand your thought process on the matter more and we work with you all the time. Wonderful interview. I hope all the authors who read it keep your advice in mind the next time they are working with an editor. Thank you again for doing the interview, Pam.

You can find Pamela Gifford online at:

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