These days with the internet it can be hard to get to know what people are really like, on a personal level. From the first time I reached out to Candace, I found her to be hugely supportive. She has offered her help ever since I started this blogging process and I am honoured to have her expertise and to have her guest posting on Herheadache today.
Most of the posts on my own blog are for writers about the writing and publishing, so I was pleasantly surprised when Kerry invited me to guest blog and answer some personal questions. While I’ve written about myself in terms of my work as a professional editor (as in this post), I haven’t written too much about my background or my personal philosophies. Kerry asked some great questions, so here goes:
“I read something on your website about your involvement with the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I used to love those when I was a kid and always dreamed of writing something and having it published in those. What was your role?”
Like most people, I’d heard of the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise, so when I applied for an internship with their book publisher, I looked forward to learning more about anthologies in general and those books in particular. You can imagine my thrill when I was invited by to try my hand at writing back cover copy and catalog copy for several of the books in production that season—and my greater thrill when most of my copy was used!
During my internship, I tried my hand at many publishing tasks and found I was a pretty good proofreader. At first, I only did second proofs; a more experienced proofreader did the first proof pass, and I was the “clean-up” proofreader. After I finished my internship and graduated, I continued to work as a freelance proofreader for a year before I was offered a position with the same publisher as assistant to the managing editor. Over the course of those several seasons, I proofread several more Chicken Soup books as well as many others.
Several years later, the franchise was sold, and the publisher I worked for was no longer involved, but the editorial director recognized the popularity of anthologies (A Cup of Comfort was a popular, competing series) and lobbied for creating a series to replace Chicken Soup. That series became the Ultimate Books, and I was tapped to be the project manager for one of the first titles in the series, The Ultimate Teacher. Working on that first project was the epitome of trial by fire; I learned so much from putting that anthology together.
I continued to build on those skills over the next few years as I worked on several more titles in the Ultimate series and later began acquiring my own nonfiction list. The variety of jobs I handled and the skills I learned is quite varied, so I’ll save that discussion for another post, but suffice it to say I had quite an in-depth education.
“When did you start your own editing business and what made you want to try going out on your own?”
My passion has always been working with writers and their words, and sadly, the economics of traditional publishing caused my job to morph into something that left me little time to do that. My days were spent on many things other than editing, and I grew more and more frustrated.
I finally realized that if things were going to change, I would have to be the one to change them.
So I did, and I’ve never looked back. Was it scary? Yes, it was. But in hindsight, I only have one regret: I wish I’d done it sooner. Becoming a freelance editor and writer is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
“Of all the books you’ve edited (I read through the list on your site) how do you find working with writers? Is it always easy? What can make it difficult? What makes it so rewarding as to make you continue doing it?
People are people, and some are easier to get along with than others. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t found a few more than a little challenging.
I’ve found that being honest and upfront through the entire process goes a long way toward ensuring a positive experience for everyone. As a professional editor, I understand how difficult it can be for an author to hand over something so personal to a total stranger, so I try to put my writers at ease right from our initial contact by explaining their options, the editorial process, and specifically how I do what I do and why.
I pride myself on being more than just an unknown entity who judges someone’s words, and I believe that personal touch goes a long way toward reassuring writers that I will respect their words as much as they do.
I have the freedom to work on projects that I’m excited about. I enjoy a great deal of variety: I work with writers on their novels, memoirs, self-help books, book proposals, blog posts, and articles for magazines and websites. I even had an opportunity to write a comedic speech, which was a great challenge but so much fun! Every day I have the opportunity to work with authors who are among the most dedicated and creative people I’ve ever met. And the best part is that I can now call those people my friends. How could you not love a job like that?
Thanks, Kerry, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work and my love for it, and I invite your readers to visit my blog at http://changeitupediting.wordpress.com for posts that will help on their way to achieving their writing and publishing dreams. And I invite everyone to ask any questions you have in the comments—I’ll do my best to satisfy your curiosity!
Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more at Change It Up Editing and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@changeitupedit).