AW: Hi Lisl, thanks for meeting me here on the blog
LZ: Hi, Annie, and thanks so much for this fabulous opportunity! Word of mouth is so important to many businesses, so anytime it happens it’s a small blessing.
AW: Could you start by giving us a little detail about your background? Was it a logical progression for you to set up your own editing business?
LZ: Well, my first career goal (at age six) was to be a spy, so some might think the progression not so logical at all! However, I occasionally wonder if that choice in part came with an innate ability to recognize so many tiny details. I’d always loved watching and looking, and began eventually to write poetry about what I saw. I started to seriously write creatively in elementary school, quickly falling in love with words, mesmerized by what one could do with them when sprinkling even the same ones across a page in different order, or with stress placed in alternate spots—and the magic of what could be done simply grew, and grew me.
In high school I was privileged to be part of an invitation-only creative writing class in which students were to choose their own final grades and then live up to them – I was the only one to choose A+. It’s not that I was vain (actually I was quite introverted then); I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would deliberately downgrade themselves.
Still, there later were two significant life achievements that proved even more important than being good at something: joining the military and completing a BA in English. The former is, of course, famous for demanding attention to detail, and my particular job even more. At the time I went into my degree program the options were rhetoric or literature; I chose the latter. Both of these major pathways helped hone whatever skills I thought I had, because the truth is that even innate ability simply isn’t enough. I learned even more by tutoring ESL, EFL and native language speakers – from the students themselves and our new lab boss, who insisted we take some linguistics classes aimed at conferencing writers, which brought to the fore the humanity, foibles and diversity of the English language and those who speak it. These last experiences and further training really moved me forward, teaching me the most about helping other writers without removing them from the equation.
When I was lucky enough to “discover” the indie writing community a few years back, I initially did a lot of watching and reading which, as it turns out, goes along with much of the keen advice regarding how to be a better writer, leaning a bit on my “spy” roots. I did see a need within this community for editing services, though in truth it didn’t jump out at me as a business opportunity. It was only later, when I had grown to care for it, the people within and the stories they tell, that I thought this could be my way to contribute to something really great. By this time, I had broken away from “stealth” mode and established some wonderful relationships, which I feel is a key ingredient in the editing business in terms of the care one has for other people’s creations.
AW: What can authors expect when they first make contact – will they need to send their whole manuscript or can they send a chapter or so in the first instance?
LZ: As much as possible I try to accommodate author preferences. Authors are welcome to send in their entire manuscripts, though a chapter or so is also welcome. For authors new to the service, I’m happy to provide a sample edit at no charge for the first 500 words of his or her manuscript. Also, it is helpful if they let me know at least some basics on what they are looking for: for example, proofreading or copy-editing; particular bugaboos they know they have; and/or their preference for American or British English, etc.
AW: What, in your opinion, is the purpose of an outside editor; where can an editor really help the author?
LZ: While there are a variety of supportive functions different types of editors perform, they all have at least one thing in common, and that is to make the product the best it can be in partnership with its creator(s). This might mean cleaning up the grammar and punctuation or pointing out inconsistencies or inaccuracies and so on, but it also helps an author achieve two things: an outside perspective from someone without any (real or perceived) obligation to tell them only how awesome their work is, and greater assurance that the work has indeed passed through the mopping-up stages with a fresh and different set of eyes.
However, it isn’t the mere doing that makes this happen, but also the partnership that facilitates questions and answers the why. It causes authors and editors alike to examine their choices, gain perspectives beyond their own, broaden their knowledge base and improve their craft. While not a guarantee, it can lead to authors reaching wider or ordinarily very fussy audiences or even getting new ideas.
AW: What, if anything, is the most important aspect of editing?
LZ: To be honest, I’m stuck between two angles, the first of which is maintaining a balance between standards of writing, what the author wants and reader expectations. However, this could also fall under the umbrella of a second aspect, the relationship between author and editor. If it’s a successful one, a lot can be achieved even if the pair sometimes disagrees, and an author understands that his editor isn’t being mean when she makes corrections, that in fact she has the author’s best interests in mind.
AW: Where can authors reach you – do you have a website, and is that the best way to get in touch, in the first instance?
LZ: I have a new website called Great Land Services, “services” chosen to reflect potential growth in what I provide in the future, and because even now it isn’t just editing I do, but also proofreading and such other services as typing and transcription. Great Land Services’ webpage is here:
and we would be delighted for authors to have a look around and use the “Contact” tab to get in touch. Alternately, one could check out the site and then simply message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Annie—as always, it’s been great fun!
AW: Thank you for dropping by!