Interview – Louise Harris (Editor)

Hey, anyone looking for an editor who is fast, professional and affordable? In a slightly different interview today, I 12289494_100121800359111_2067819069730124778_npresent editor Louise Harris.

What is your background? How long have you been editing?

I come from an educated, book-reading family.  My mother was the librarian in our small county library, and I grew up surrounded by books.  Some of my earliest memories include books.  Treating books with respect and handling them gently were lessons taught in my house.  When I was in high school I worked in that library, learning not only the operations of a library but also book repair.  I like books.  You don’t need a battery to open them up.

Both of my parents were readers who read to their children, and as a consequence, all of their children are readers to this day.  Books were given as presents, and I still get excited when one of my favorite authors has a new book out.  I like reading other people’s imaginations, and there are some pretty cool ones out there!

I have done office work of one kind or another all of my adult life (except for the year I worked as a landscape grunt).  I’ve worked in the past as a legal secretary creating, proofreading, and editing legal documents.  For the last 20 years I’ve been a medical transcriptionist, transcribing and editing medical documents, which involves editing on the fly, i.e., listening to what is said and either editing a draft or typing it out, correcting grammar and punctuation as you go.  This isn’t easy and requires a great deal of concentration.

I’ve been editing for years, not only for my employment but also every book I read.  I don’t read with the intention of proofreading, but I end up doing it anyway because I come across errors in books quite frequently.  There are two basic categories:  Things That Make Me Wince, which are usually punctuation and grammar mistakes, and Things That I Stumble Over, which are usually wrong facts.  I won’t catch everything.  Clive Cussler and Lee Child can talk about weapons and bullets, and trajectory and speed and temperature and humidity and wind and curvature of the earth and everything else that can have an effect on whether or not a bullet makes it to the intended target, and I won’t know whether it’s right or wrong.  That’s not my field. But I do know how many time zones there are in Russia, and I know the difference between a filly and a colt, and I know when presidential elections are held.  Some people will catch things that I won’t, and I will catch things that someone else will miss.

I have a MacBook Pro, with Pages and MS Word, and also a PC running Windows 8 and MS Office 2013.

What genre is your specialty?

I’m not sure I have a specialty.  I read a lot of different things, though admit it is mostly fiction.  I am reading more nonfiction as a result of the book club I belong to.  I have in the past read a lot of fantasy/sci-fi, more fantasy than sci-fi – magic fascinates me – and I still read some from time to time. It’s probably better to tell you what I don’t read.  I don’t do horror, and while I do read some mild-mannered mysteries, I have to be careful about them because I can scare myself very easily.  I’m not real fond of profanity liberally strewn throughout the entire book.  I once started a book written by Willie Shoemaker, the famous jockey.  I didn’t finish it because the “f” word was in just about every other sentence, and I got tired of it, and quite frankly, I felt it detracted from the story.  I also don’t want to read every little detail of a sexual encounter; what other people do in their bedroom, or someplace else, is nobody’s business, certainly not mine, and I don’t want to read about it.

What are your strengths as an editor? How are you better than the other guy?

I am a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation.  There are several major grammatical errors that are prevalent in the American language these days, and they make me shudder and cringe every time I hear or read them.  There is very definitely a dummying down of America going on, and I find it very sad.  Apostrophes are important, adverbs are important, being able to express yourself accurately and intelligently both verbally and in written word are important, and yet this knowledge is falling by the wayside, and people don’t seem to care.  Well, I do, and so I will correct all the big and little errors in grammar and punctuation that I find.

I watch a lot of what I call educational TV (science, nature, and history), and I have accumulated what at times seems like a massive amount of useless trivia, but because of that I stumble over things in books that I know are incorrect, and I will point them out.

When I read a book for the first time, I do not expect to find any errors of any kind, no typos, no misspelled words, no grammar errors, no punctuation errors, all facts true and correct, sentence structure flows smoothly and easily, absolute clarity (I’m not confused by too many pronouns and can’t tell who said what), no awkwardness.  In short, a perfect, polished work.  And more and more often, that is not the case.  Instead, I find myself tripping over any or all of the above.  And I always think that if I caught the error, somebody else should have caught it before it got to print.  Proofreading, grammar, and punctuation checking cannot be left to a computer; it takes a human brain with thorough knowledge of the American English language to properly proofread a written work.

What advice would you give writers?

Pay attention to what you are writing.  Do your homework.  Make sure your facts are correct.  Don’t tell me that your main character grew up on the wrong side of I-5 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  (For those not familiar with the United States, I-5 [Interstate 5] runs up the West Coast; New Jersey is 3000 miles away on the East Coast.)

Proofreading and Editing Services

  • Proofreading: The work is completed, you have edited it for the final time, and you’re ready to go to print. This is a quick, final reading of the work by a fresh pair of eyes to find typos, grammar mistakes, punctuation errors, missing words.   $2.00/page
  • Copy editing: More in depth proofreading, checking for accuracy, formatting, style, inconsistencies, flow, correct grammar and punctuation. This can vary from light copy editing, which usually consists mostly of grammar correction and accuracy checking, to heavy copy editing, which would include restructuring some paragraphs and lots of correction of style, grammar, flow, and everything in between. $3.00 to $4.00/page, depending on how much work is involved.
  • Content editing: Much more intensive work involving adding content left out, or perhaps rewriting sections of content. This is a higher level of copy editing, and includes content creation in addition to editing. $5.00/page

Please contact me on private message on Facebook for information regarding payment.