Cassie Cox is an editor at Red Adept Publishing and graciously agreed to be interviewed for the blog! Check out Cassie’s suggestions on how to make the first five pages of a manuscript really stand out and what manuscripts she’s hoping to find in her editing queue.
What are your editing roles at Red Adept?
I line edit, content edit, and proofread.
What happens after you first receive a manuscript?
I run a count of every word in the MS by frequency, so I can see if there are any words that are overused.
Do you have any suggestions for authors to facilitate the editing process either on their end or yours?
I always appreciate it when authors double-space their books. I have worked on many single-spaced books–there’s nothing wrong with it–but double-space is much easier on my eyes. Other things that help… Letting me know which editing techniques you like or really hate is good. For example, if you hate starting a line with “He said…” then tell me that so I don’t insert things you’re going to reject offhand. Similarly, if you love when an editor leaves you comments like “Oh my god, I knew it! I knew she was going to buy a puggle!” then tell me that too. I err toward professional in my communications with authors, but I’ve found most authors prefer an editor who interacts with them as a person, not just as a client.
What are some common mistakes newbie authors make in their manuscripts?
Obviously new authors have a tendency to mess up some rules about punctuation and grammar. But more important mistakes are descriptions. New authors frequently data dump. For example, they’ll introduce a character with a paragraph or two of descriptions. They’ll tell me what the character looks like, including their clothes, and possibly what kind of car they drive. They’ll tell me that their character is in a house and describe the rooms down to the doily on the mantle. This kind of writing tends to lose a reader because people generally don’t absorb information well in large chunks. I also find that a lot of those descriptions just aren’t necessary at all. If the character is unimportant to the overall story and development of the main character, then we don’t ever need to know that she has a rose tattoo on her left buttock.
What are some words or phrases writers typically overuse?
This just depends on the author. If an author thinks they’re using a word too often, the Find tool is their best friend.
What do you suggest authors do to make their first five pages really stand out?
Avoid data dumps. Don’t tell me what’s going on in your book, SHOW me. Hit the ground running with action. I don’t mean shoot ‘em up action (unless that’s your thing) but show me people talking and doing things. Watching your characters do something as simple as go to Starbucks for a cup of coffee is almost certainly going to be more interesting than reading paragraphs of background information.
Are there any manuscripts that you’d like to see in your editing queue that you’re not currently seeing? Are there tropes you’re tired of seeing as well?
I’m actually really interested in getting some LGBT books. I’m a big fan of romance (which is why I edit so much erotica) and I’d love to see some less-conventional romances. Also, anything to do with Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to be an LGBT Shakespeare book. Though that would cool.
Do you have any author/client from hell stories?
Not answering. Sorry!
What makes you want to work with an author again?
I love when an author plays back with me. If I leave a comment like, “Hey, I love country music too!” and they respond “Well who doesn’t?” then that makes me feel like we’re getting to know each other as people. I also like when an author gives me feedback about what they like/don’t like about my work. I’ll also want to work with an author again if I really loved their book, especially if it’s a series of books.
What made you decide to become an editor?
I stumbled into editing. A friend of mine asked me to work on her book, and I did. I loved it so much that I found a job doing it. I’ve been editing ever since.
What qualities make up a good editor?
The drive to learn is important. I’m still learning new things about punctuation and grammar and spelling, and I think I probably always will. I love that about my job. I’m also always learning from the books I work on.
Patience and attention to detail. Sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, combing through someone’s book for errors and things you can make better can be tedious if you don’t enjoy it.
Ability to self-monitor and meet deadlines. Deadlines are really important in this business. Authors frequently tell their fans what the release date of the next book is, and the book may go through several more hands after I’m done. If I’m a couple days late, that throws off the entire schedule. No one breathes down my neck about getting my work done, so I have to be the one to impose daily quotas and make myself stick to them.
Thank you so much, Cassie, for taking the time out of your busy editing schedule to share your thoughts on editing and writing. We authors are always taking notes.
Cassie is a hard-core Shakespeare geek with too many cats. She has spent most of the last three years working as an editor and homemaker, and she hopes to one day be as cool as Abby Sciuto.