Industry Spotlight: Julia Edits

You’ve written a story, now what? There is an exhaustive list {which we’ll discuss at a later date}, but one of the most important things an author should do prior to publishing a book is seek out a professional editor. As part of an on-going series spotlighting the folks behind-the-scenes who help bring romance books to your e-reader, Book+Main reached out to Julia Ganis with Julia Edits for some insight into the editing process. She was kind enough to offer some tips and share some of her current projects. Take a look…

How long have you worked in the romance book world?

The formal answer is that I launched my “JuliaEdits” copy-editing business in 2013, and since then I’ve worked on over 200 books. (And actually I just checked my spreadsheet and discovered this adds up to over 15 million words!)

But I’d been doing behind-the-scenes novel editing before that for a few years. And before that I’d spent years in writing- and editing-centric jobs, including a long time in Hollywood, working with A-list screenwriters, producers and directors. My entire career has been wrapped up in stories, in one form or another.

What was the first book you edited?

It was RAPHAEL/PARISH, the beginning of Laura Wright & Alexandra Ivy’s Bayou Heat series.

It all started with Laura. We’d met in an unpublished writers group years before, and always read one another’s work. So after she became a published author, reading her pages was still a natural part of our relationship. And then when she decided to move into a hybrid writing career via self-publishing, she encouraged me to get formal about ramping up my business, editing her self-pub books, and offering my services to a wider sphere of writers.

What type of book is your specialty?

Romance for sure; it’s about 90% of what I work on. I also do some stories that might more properly fall into the women’s fiction category, and then a few pieces of creative nonfiction—typically humorous memoir.

Within romance, I work in pretty much any subgenre, though the majority has been contemporary. I’m open to all heat levels and have worked on everything from red-hot to sweet and chaste.

No matter the genre, I turn down projects with heavy violence, because when I work I get very immersed in the story, and I just don’t want that running around in my brain all day. Same for big taboos like incest or non-consent.

Above all, what I’m looking for in the books I accept is great writing. A writer at the top of her game can take me on pretty much any story journey and I’m willing to follow.

How does an author go about getting on your schedule?

For new clients, the first step is to query me. I want to know who you are, what your writing experience is (unpublished is fine!), and what your goals are. Sometimes writers are looking to publish; others are planning to submit to publishers/agents or enter a contest. I want to know your piece’s genre/subgenre and word count, and I definitely want to know about any deadlines you’re facing, or any particular challenges you foresee. Did you write a great novel…but worry you’ve mucked up the timeline? Do you have a concern about the story’s alternating POV? I want to know that up front if possible.

And then I always ask to see a writing sample of about twenty pages or so, and do a free sample edit of a chunk of that. This is good for the author and also good for me. I get to let my brain seep into your words (is that a gross analogy?), see if your writing is something I want to spend my time working on, and customize my price quote depending on the specifics of your writing. The author gets to see how I work and decide if it’s a good fit for her. That’s something I want to emphasize to all writers—it’s not enough to find an editor who will take on your work. You want to find the right editor to take on your work. A sample edit is one important step toward determining if the author/editor team is a good match.

Lastly, we look at scheduling. I’m almost always booking three or four months ahead, if not more. It’s rare that I can accommodate anyone at short notice, though it occasionally does happen.

What services do you offer?

I really only offer one thing and I call it copy editing, but it’s more than that. I have to find a better way to state this (Any marketing writers out there want to help?), but what I offer is the thing that self-pubbing authors, in particular, need: a thorough, vigorous copy edit that’s done with nonstop attention and deference to the writer’s style, and embedded in that is a light developmental edit meant to address story/character/tonal weakness. Above all, I respect a writer’s authorial intentions and never want to interfere with her voice or artistic vision.

What’s your latest project?

I’m always busy but you caught me at a particularly busy time. The fourth quarter of 2018 for me is/was projects with: Katie Reus, Kate Canterbary, Jeannie Lin, Susannah Nix, Eva Moore, Avon Gale and Roan Parrish. I’ll start off January with an Alexandra Ivy project. And all of that is a mix of contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal, historical, m/f, m/m, and f/f.

Anything you want our followers to know about you?

I love romance and I’m unabashed about that. I love that so many readers and writers in our world feel the same way. There’s a lot that needs to be improved in the world of romance—we’ve got a long way to go with diverse books and opportunities for authors of color, for a start—but there’s also no doubt in my mind that we’re getting there. Modern, progressive Romancelandia and its values are part of the better world we’re making.

Do you have any quick tips for Authors?

I’ve got a million of them. Here are the biggies:

• No, you can’t have your book edited by a friend. Nor can you edit it yourself. If you’re trying to put professional, truly polished work out into the world, you need a professional editor on your publishing team.

• Don’t hire just any editor. Hire the right editor: someone who specializes in fiction; who specializes in your genre/subgenre; who’ll give you a free sample edit; whose schedule and pricing work for you. Remember, you’re not just finding an editor, you’re auditioning editors.

• Try as best you can to look at the big picture of your project calendar because good editors’ schedules get filled early. Look forward and figure out when you’ll be ready for editing so you can book it…and then meet that deadline.

• Avoid any editor who promotes themselves as an authoritarian/grammar nazi/know-it-all. Yes, a good editor is a big Word Nerd. But great editors—especially fiction editors—know that an author’s voice is paramount, which means that a great deal of the time tone is more important than strict grammar rules.

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