Interview with my Perfect Editor, Debbie Simorte

Do you need a perfect editor? Learn what that means from my perfect editor, Debbie Simorte

Welcome to Always Write, a blog for newbies and fun bloggers, writers, and photographers, where you do not have to be Patrick Problogger to have a great blog. Sit down, have a cup of coffee. Marsha Ingrao here, ready for another online interview. I’d like to introduce my perfect editor and friend, Debbie Simorte. I just met one of Debbie’s other customers on Facebook accidentally. He called her an editor extraordinaire. See if you don’t agree.

Hi Debbie, I’m so thrilled that you decided to let me interview you for my blog. We met through a mutual friend, Tonia Hurst, about a year ago when I thought I was ready to publish Girls on Fire. After writing and rewriting and rewriting again, I realized that it wasn’t ready yet. Your editing was such a big help. Then you edited my book, So You Think You Can Blog? my free book for asking and signing up for my newsletter. That was a lot of fun, too. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I have, and now I’m excited to hear what my friends say about it. So let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do as an editor including how you got involved in editing.

Debbie Simorte: I’m an empty nester and work from home with the assistance of two four-legged helpers. Damcat reads newspapers and records her book reviews, and Coco reminds me to take breaks for play and snacks.

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She looks innocent, doesn’t she?

I was working as a general VA (virtual assistant) when self-publishing became widely accepted rather than just something writers who couldn’t get traditionally published did, and I thought my skills could help indie authors. I pitched my services to two writers – one of them was a well-known traditionally published author and she agreed to let me proofread one of her novels. I found issues that her in-house editor missed, but also learned that I had more to learn.  

As a copy editor, I partner with authors to get their manuscript as clean and clear as can be for publishing while still maintaining the author’s voice and story. I don’t do developmental editing, but I do point out any issues with plot, character development, setting, etc. so the author can resolve them.

Marsha Ingrao: I disagree that you don’t do developmental editing because you asked me some pertinent questions that let me know I had developmental problems. I probably need to know more about developmental editing. You are also an author. How does being a writer and author help you to be a better editor? 

Debbie Simorte: I’ve been writing shorter stuff for years, but novel writing is a different beast. As I learn about plotting and character development and everything else for my book, it helps me to see what’s working and what isn’t in my clients’ books. I’d also add that the process of editing for others helps me to improve my writing.

Marsha Ingrao: You have a great sense of humor that comes out in your writing.

There are many services for editing available. How does someone know the right kind of editing that they need?

Debbie Simorte: I love this question, and I always have this discussion with potential clients. Most think they are ready for proofreading, and few are. I read the entire book before starting any edits, so I won’t get distracted by the story and forget I’m working, and so I can see how much help the author needs. If the author needs developmental edits or isn’t even ready for that yet, I then let them know, because copyediting won’t help them at that stage. BookBaby has an excellent article that explains the different types of editing here: http://blog.bookbaby.com/2016/04/type-book-editing-need/

I’d also like to add that besides finding a qualified editor, find one you’ll enjoy working with. Getting your manuscript ready for publication can and should be fun, not torture. Any reputable editor should be willing to mark up a few pages for you with no further obligation. If that sample edit makes you want to hide under the bed with a bottle of Jack, find someone else.

Marsha Ingrao: I never felt that way with you. However, in the middle of editing and rewriting Girls on Fire, I realized that I was not ready to publish. A glass of white wine together, now I’d like that! 🙂

What about do it yourself programs like Grammarly? If you have one of those, would it help to have an editor still?

Debbie Simorte: Absolutely! I’ve heard wonderful things about Grammarly but honestly hadn’t tried it until you asked this question. I uploaded a chapter of my WIP to see what happened. It showed me some commas I need to remove (correct), suggested a colon where a comma is needed, and suggested I change, “Things would all work out…” to “Things would all workout…” That made me imagine a bunch of problems at the gym for their workout. So my opinion is to use these programs and then hire an editor. The Chicago Manual of Style contains about 1,025 pages of rules.  Editors read that thing, so writers don’t have to. I’d also question whether online programs fact check. For instance, if your story describes vegetation that doesn’t even grow in your setting, would a program know that?

Marsha Ingrao:  I just installed Grammarly this weekend. It’s made a few comma suggestions, which are always confusing to me. It’s working on everything, even emails. It does make errors, but I think it helps. Here’s my next question. For someone who is interested in editing, what steps should he or she take to get started in the business?

Debbie Simorte: Read everything you can — fiction, newspapers, legal docs, all of it. Study, study, study. Read books about editing. Buy the style guides and read them. Take classes. Take tests. Write about why you want to be an editor, and then mark up your copy.

You must have the ability to notice. By this I mean if a character’s name changes, you have to catch it. If a character goes to the grocery store in a Ford truck and later unloads the bags from a Chevy, you must notice this as well as the bad punctuation and awkward sentences and typos. Logic and reasoning skills are also important. Say everyone calls your character by her last name and at some point in the story her mother does. Would your mom call you by your last name? Or a character is so mean that we love to hate him, but there’s no motive to his meanness – it doesn’t make sense to be mean for no reason.

Volunteer to read for writer friends (you DO have writer friends, right?) and do the best editing job you can. Find someone smarter than you and volunteer to edit for them. Remember my pitch to that well-known author? I helped her. She helped me more.  

Thank you for having me, Marsha!

I share interesting stuff on writing and editing on my Spello Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/SeeSpellosRun/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel, and on Twitter I’m @debbiesimorte

Marsha Ingrao: Debbie, your Spello page is adorable. And turquoise is my newest favorite color. If you enjoyed this interview, Debbie also has a blog, Writing the Life Chaotic, which is hilarious. If you enjoy cat stories, you will enjoy reading about the time Damcat stole the Xanax! Thanks again, Debbie, for agreeing to do this interview.

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Cup of Irish coffee from the Eternal Traveller’s blog

Thanks again for joining us here at Always Write for a cup of coffee and a great interview with our guest blogger and my perfect editor, Debbie Simorte. Don’t forget to give her blog a peek! 🙂 To be a guest on Always Write or read other interviews, click here.

You should do THIS before you contact your perfect editor.