Coffee with Colleagues, Meet the Editor, What Does an Editor Do?

Coffee with Colleagues

One of the best parts of working in book publishing is that some of the most gifted, talented, fun and just generally great people form the majority of the workforce. We are all united by the love of the written word, but each person has such a wide variety of skills and knowledge that even if you’ve worked with someone for years, they’ll still surprise you with a little nugget of wisdom when you least expect it.

However, now that I’m freelance, my nearest physical college is Sammy the Editorial Assistant cat (who is currently snoring away by my desk). And now that the whole word has effectively moved to working from home – look at you all, jumping on the bandwagon! – I thought it would be lovely to reach out to the publishing community and get to know some of my colleagues in the industry a little more – albeit over a Zoom chat, rather than the lunches and coffees that publishing professionals are known for.

Interview with Isobelle Lans from Inspired Lines Editing

Isobelle Lans is a UK-based author and freelance fiction editor at Inspired Lines Editing. In 2019, she left her in-house editing job to start her freelance business, and since then has been helping fiction writers to refine their manuscripts and hone their writing skills. Isobelle works on a range of fiction, including fantasy, crime, romance, and historical fiction. If you’ve got a manuscript or story idea you think would benefit from a professional eye, get in touch to ask her how she can help you or what advice she can offer! You can connect with her on Instagram, where she shares insights, tips and encouragement for other writers.

Hi, Isobelle. So tell me a little about yourself and your journey to becoming a book editor?

Hi! Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I’m Isobelle Lans, a fiction editor from Australia who now lives in England. My favourite genres to edit are fantasy, romance, crime, and historical fiction.

I suppose like many editors, my assent into going freelance was quite slow. Editing was a skill I realised I had (and something I realised I enjoyed doing), so I decided to look into it as a career. I did an online training course in Australia and, from there, reached out to a few freelance editors to see if they had any mentorship programmes available. I got lucky and worked on a few projects under the guidance of an experienced fiction editor. That really sold it to me. I knew this was what I wanted to do. I then managed to get a few more freelance projects by simply cold calling other editors, or small businesses that I thought would benefit from a proofread.

After I moved to England I completed training with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and became a member. I got a few freelance jobs through them in the beginning. I then also took a course on developmental editing and the skills required for this in-depth edit. That was an amazing course, and I fell in love with developmental editing. During all my training I kept working on freelance projects. I then got a job at an indie publisher in London. My boss there was so incredibly knowledgeable and working alongside her definitely taught me a lot about what it takes to work with writers. I originally planned to stay working in-house in London, but I realised it just wasn’t for me. I went to interview at one of the big publishing houses down there and thought ‘I don’t actually want to work a 9-5 job and commute in London!’ So, I decided to go freelance instead, and Inspired Lines Editing was born!

Continue reading “Coffee with Colleagues”
Book Review, What Does an Editor Do?, Writing Tips and Tricks

A Handy Guide to Publishing Your Manuscript: LET’S GET PUBLISHED by Val Penny – Book Review

It’s safe to say that to new writers and authors, once you leave the seclusion of your writing desk, the world of PUBLISHING is a little daunting? There is so much jargon, so many processes, ways to do things, ways not to do things, that it can all be a bit much! When I first joined the industry, I was a little flummoxed too. I loved books more than anything, but I didn’t understand a think about how a book was actually made.

Continue reading “A Handy Guide to Publishing Your Manuscript: LET’S GET PUBLISHED by Val Penny – Book Review”
Uncategorized

Fiction in the Time of Corona: How the global pandemic may have messed up your plot, and why that’s not always a bad thing

Yesterday, I read a fascinating article by American novelist Ben Winters. I had the pleasure of working with Winters briefly whilst I was at Penguin Random House and found his unique predicament intriguing.

The article, published on Slate.com, is discussing how the global pandemic of coronavirus and COVID-19 has basically screwed the plot of his new book, The Quiet Boy. It begins in January 2020 and hurtles towards a finale in July 2020 – in a music festival. Well, that’s not happening any more . . .

So it got me wondering how writers and namely the plots of fiction novels have been affected by the pandemic. It must be soul-destroying to have worked so hard, giving up months if not years of your life to curate the perfect plot line, create the characters that you need and finesse the timeline just so until you have a novel that you’re truly happy with . . . for a global pandemic to make it no longer relevant.

But my question is, does it matter? The role of fiction isn’t about facts. As the dictionary defines it, fiction is ‘the type of book or story that is written about imaginary characters and events and not based on real people and facts’. Of course, the best inspiration comes from the world around us – and no doubt the market will be flooded with coronavirus diaries, novels, etc. (Although I question whether there will be a market for them after we emerge blinking in the sunlight post-lockdown – we don’t want to go through that again *shudders*.) But, what better excuse than the world going a bit bananas around us to make use of this fantastic tool that we have hidden deep in our brains: the imagination. There is no better time to let our minds wonder and think of what-if and how-about.

Winters has a point when he says that ‘Right now, we are in the middle of total and utter upheaval. What reader will accept that my characters blithely go about their business in Los Angeles in the spring and summer of this year we’re in?’ Perhaps we should have more faith in our readers. Every day, fiction asks us to suspend our disbelief and fall headlong into a world that isn’t real, not based on fact, the product of the workings of someone’s mind. Yes, it looks a little like the world we live in, but the fiction form is prism not a mirror, twisting the light of the real world into a kaleidoscope of colour – otherwise the sci-fi and fantasy genres would already be in deep water!

With this in mind, over the weekend, I had the delightful experience of kicking my heels up and devouring Rebecca Serle’s smash-hit novel In Five Years. The whole concept of the novel taking a classic interview question – ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ – and twisting it on its head. The novel is all about how no matter how much we try to plan our ideal lives and how we see ourselves in five, ten, even twenty years time, life has a funny habit of getting in the way. Serle’s characters begin in 2020 and happily work, live, love their way through to 2025 (when it starts getting a little pear-shaped), no mention of pandemic in sight. Of course, when Serle wrote her manuscript, COVID-19 hadn’t reared its ugly head, but the novel is no worse off for it. In fact, it might even be an added strength as it reminds us that although the world looks less than peachy at the moment, we’ll get through it, whatever happens.

Admittedly, there might be a new couple of new courses on the syllabus for future literature students – Pre, Post and COVID Literature – but I’m excited to see what new writing this situation brings us, and whether authors choose to engage or not – some already having voiced their claims of not touching the topic with a barge pole, Anne Tyler and Harlan Coben being among their number. I feel for Winters, who has decided to push the events of his novel back to 2019, but whether you choose to set your next writing project in a world affected by COVID or not, I think the readers are willing to welcome you with open arms. To be honest, we’re just thankful for something to read!

Uncategorized

Stuck at home? Writing Prompts to keep the boredom at bay

We’re in the middle of some turbulent times. There is lots of uncertainty and anxiety around, and we’re having to adapt our daily lives. Many more of us are being asked to stay at home, practise social distancing and or being quarantined for fourteen days. In a world where most of us are on our feet go-go-go all the time, being cooped up at home is a pill proving hard to swallow.

However, amongst all this mayhem, there could be a silver lining. As we are encouraged to stay at home where we can to help protect not just ourselves but others we have a little more time on our hands. Not only that but feeling stuck in one place can lead to feelings of being both physically and psychologically. So rather than getting ourselves down, we should embrace this extra time for ourselves. It’s the perfect time to indulge in some self-care, dust off that yoga mat or pick up new hobbies or old!

Continue reading “Stuck at home? Writing Prompts to keep the boredom at bay”
Meet the Editor

2020, We’re Coming at Ya!

It’s that time of year again when we bring out the new diary, the new diets, the new lifestyles and say to ourselves, ‘This is going to be my year!’ And although there is a lot of fluff surrounding new year’s resolutions, this year, mine is simple. To have a go.

2019 was a year of much adjustment for me. I left the job that I had dreamed of since I was young. I packed up my bags and travelled thousands of miles across the world to live in a country I’d never set foot in before. Oh, and I started a business.

2020, on the other hand, doesn’t look like it’s going to be any more stable. I have only two weeks left before our Australian adventure comes to an end and we begin our journey back home via New Zealand, where we’ll be holidays for over a month, exploring the gorgeous vistas and just taking some time out. However, when we get back to the UK after the excitement of seeing all our friends and family again, what remains is a bit of a question mark. (We don’t even really know where we’re going to live!)

I started my business a little out of necessity. The other half was offered an amazing opportunity in Australia, and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity to live abroad go. However, he happened to choose one of the few cities in the country that doesn’t have a publishing hub. So rather than hunting for a job myself, I decided to take up the scary mantle of ‘Self-employed’.

So, the question is, do I keep going? My plan so far is yes. I love what I do, and why shouldn’t I have a go at seeing whether I can make it work long term? It’ll be different being back in the UK, working with my previous colleagues but in a different capacity. And oh, boy am I looking forward to being on the same time zone as everyone for once! However, there is a nagging feeling at the back of my head. Can I actually do this?

It’s a question that many people ask themselves when they are starting out or about to embark on something risky. This includes a number of my authors, not just indie first-timers but also those who have a few books under their belts, wondering if this is all just a dream. (I personally think it’ll be a question I’ll ask myself every year).

My answer to this? You’ll never know unless you try. Sometimes you’ve got to take that gamble and just go with it. Be brave. Whatever you set out to do may not be perfect to begin with, but you’ve just got to work at it. Work hard, and it’ll pay off. Whether that’s starting your own business, aiming for a personal best at the gym (this year, I’m aiming to tackle the handstand!), or finally putting pen to paper and writing that novel. All you have to do is begin, the rest will take care of itself.

So, say it loud. ‘This year, 2020, is going to be my year.’ Go on, you can do it!

Book Review, Meet the Editor

Book Review: Going Under – Sonia Henry

IMG_6034One of my – nay – my *favourite* book of recent years, and perhaps of all time, is Adam Kay’s THIS IS GOING TO HURT, a humorous and heartbreaking account of the life of a doctor on the NHS. It details, in no uncertain terms, why doctors are leaving a seemingly crumbling yet pivotal organisation because of a system that seems to have a finger permanently on a self-destruct button, running itself but more importantly its medical staff into the ground. (But I shall not talk politics here…)

It’s one of the reasons I’m in Australia at this very moment, having come out with my medic boyfriend, who is taking some time out before his specialist training back in the NHS, to experience life in the medical profession down under. So, it is with interest that I picked up Sonia Henry’s GOING UNDER, which I assumed to be an Australian version.

And although unexpectedly written in the format of the novel, I would say that Henry is saying much the same thing. Medics are seen – and treated – as superhuman, not just on the NHS, but across the world. But they simply aren’t. And although there are moments of recognition and hilarity – reading out loud brilliant anecdotes from Dr Kitty’s hectic life as an intern at Holy Innocents hospital to my boyfriend – it highlights a real issue. The pressures of a profession that not only asks of its members to hold the very life of their patients in their hands, but also juggle the circus of professional development, hospital politics, endless exams and abuse, all whilst running solely on caffeine, a crust of a sandwich eaten twelve hours ago and a running total of about five hours sleep that week, can unsurprisingly be too much. Adam Kay felt he had to leave a profession he worked so hard to enter and Sonia Henry’s whistleblower article a few years ago about the number of suicides in junior doctors is testament to this.

Saying all this, those going into medicine know it isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but in the darkest moments, 3 a.m. on a night shift, where it seems that every patient is crashing, you’re the only doctor on the ward and you’ve had no sleep, just having someone ask if you’re okay, or the smallest of kind words or gestures is enough to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I’m not a medic myself, I can’t speak for the medical colleagues out there, but as a member of the public, I have never seen the point of those who think shouting or abusing our healthcare staff is going to help. Admittedly, when you’re in a hospital A&E department at 3 a.m. in the morning as a patient, the situation isn’t likely to be good for you either, but perhaps taking a moment to think about those who are toiling to look after you wouldn’t hurt (and if it does, you’re probably in a lot of pain anyway to be in A&E at that time of night!)

As a book, Henry’s novel is both a hilarious example of contemporary fiction with a strong heroine and a brilliant supporting cast, but it’s also an eye-opening expose at what life in our hospitals is really like. The writing is fun and quick-witted, making it an easy read to begin with but as the harsh reality starts to hit, the tone changes and I found myself moved by the events of the novel. But the thing is, this may be fictionalised, but, for many, it is real life. Although not quite as broadly appealing as THIS IS GOING TO HURT – my boyfriend started to read GOING UNDER, intrigued by the subject but then put-off a little bit by the slightly women’s fiction vibe – this is well worth a read.

This issue is personal to me, having two medics in my family who I have seen struggle with the strains of the profession, so I apologise for waffling on, but also revoke that apology because it needs to be talked about and it needs to be discussed.

In my opinion, not all heroes wear capes – sometimes they wear scrubs.

Meet the Editor, What Does an Editor Do?

What Does an Editor Do? – The Copy Edit

DSC_5705
I can edit to a number of styles including Standard British, Australian and well as Chicago.

Welcome, avid reader, to the second instalment in the What Does an Editor Do? series. Today, I’ll be talking about the most pernickety of edits: the Copy Edit. 

Continue reading “What Does an Editor Do? – The Copy Edit”