First-Time Presenter: Writers Conference

Well, the Houston Writers Guild annual conference went really well, according to everyone. I was one of the breakout speakers and did a presentation called “Preparing to Work with and Later Working with an Editor.” I was super nervous and felt I messed up a good amount, but I got great feedback about it afterward. The audience was perfect: they took notes, laughed in the right spots, and asked questions. Below is the title page of my PowerPoint presentation.

PP screenshot

I also had a little table set up that I stayed at for most of the rest of the conference, and people came by to ask advice about their books and get information about the editing process. I tell you, it’s such a rewarding feeling doing what you love, being able to help others reach their goals, and having people look to you for guidance.

Later in the day I participated on a panel with a few literary agents and one other editor. That was definitely helpful to a lot of writers. Those agents were available during the day to hear book pitches, and I got to hear all about several people’s encouraging sessions with the agents. Such excitement all day.

So, though I was a nervous wreck for a good part of the day, it was totally worth it. I’m looking forward to next year’s conference already.

Editor Amy

Houston Writers Guild Annual Conference

Tomorrow will be a big day for this editor! I’m going to be a speaker at the Houston Writers Guild annual conference. My presentation is called “Preparing to Work with and Later Working with an Editor.” It was an honor to be asked to speak. I’ll also serve on the Q&A panel again with a few literary agents.

This conference is a big event in the Houston writing community, and it offers so many great resources for writers (both beginners and pros). Some writers set up tables to promote their latest works, other professionals in the publishing industry feature their skills and services, and a few agents make themselves available to hear pitches from writers. Registration is available via the link above. Come say hi if you see me!

Editor Amy


Do You Need an Editor?


I’m sure it’s no surprise that I love this graphic. I don’t know whom to give credit, but it’s great. I wish I could show it to everyone who writes, whether professionally or on the side and in hopes of being published. Every type and piece of writing can be improved with professional editing. “Professional” is the key word.

Many people think they don’t need editors, I believe because they know how to read and write, took English classes, and maybe consider themselves to be good at spotting their own mistakes or errors on signs. They must think that’s enough. It’s strange coming across that. Some people are downright adamant and insist that they don’t need editors. I doubt many surgeons come across the same thing. How many of us would feel confident that we could put a screw in someone’s broken limb or even close a wound with stitches or staples (at surgeon standards)? I took biology and a health-tech. class in high school. Am I semi-qualified? Could anyone who likes to debate and knows a handful of laws do a lawyer’s job? I seriously hope that people would seek professionals for those services.

Should editing be an exception? I’ve learned so much as an editor, and when training to be an editor, that I never would have learned in regular, daily life. (Now, not all editors meet the standards, but I won’t go into that. I will upon request, though.) I don’t want to come across as having no sense of humor or discourage those with a love of language; it brings a smile to my face when I see that someone likes what I posted about writing or editing on my Facebook page, and I encourage people to keep learning about what they love. I just wish more people acknowledged editing as something truly professional–like it is. Let the pros handle your novels, your graduate theses, your business proposals, your websites. If you find a great editor, you’ll love the results. Sure, it takes some work on your part to find and hire the right editor, and there will probably be revisions to work on, but it’s worth it for something you care about–something you want to look its best.

Now, look at the funny graphic again and laugh!

Editor Amy

Way-Back Wednesday: A Blast from My College Past

I was recently looking for something in a desktop folder that contains all kinds of files, and I happened across some of my college papers from my journalism classes. As you might guess, I adored all the writing and editing I got to do in them. What I’m posting below is an assignment I turned in (no stealing!) about my take on the importance of editing with regard to communicating. I’m not presenting it as a thing of beauty (I was still trying to find my style) but as more of a glimpse of the type of person I’ve been for a long time.

Editing: Quintessential in Communications

“I want to talk good and write good so I can do good and express what’s in my head.” Sure, that person has a lot of work to do, but he has the right attitude. To know the differences between “good” and “well” as well as “that” and “which” is an important task to achieve.

Recently I had a nightmare that an article I poured my heart and soul into got rejected by the city newspaper because I had made several inexcusable grammatical and punctuation errors. (The horror!) I have a goal: excellence. I want to be the best editor and writer I can be, in whichever field I choose, and inspire others to improve their language and writing skills. (I aim high, I know.)

Precision in language is of the utmost importance—at least, it should be. Reading an article and realizing that it comes across as something entirely different from what the writer probably intended is humorous at first, then tiresome, as it’s a never-ending cycle. People love to express themselves but often make simple mistakes that can alter their meanings. This must be stopped. Lovers of language should unite to politely inform those with blind eyes (figuratively) of their wrongdoings: inexcusable errors! Corrections would be made in masses, and expression would once again be smooth. “To,” “two,” and “too” could finally be universally understood. How glorious!

If only I could write about editing and communications all day . . . Alas, there’s much work to be done in the world. Many mistakes still need to be fixed, and most Wal-Mart customers still think that the “10 items or less” signs are correct. Language lovers and future editors should always carry permanent markers or corrective ink, whether figurative or literal, in case of editing emergencies. Maybe our fire for proper language and grammar usage will catch on. Right now there are several commas waiting for me to replace them with semicolons. An editor’s job is never over.

What I See When I Read Anything: An Editor Explained

Minor confession: Like many people, I check Facebook soon after I wake up. The little red notification indicator lures me with the hope that someone has left an interesting comment on one of my statuses or liked at least one of the many pictures of my dogs. Today is no exception. So, because of my Facebook curiosity, I’ve started my job (independent editor) before I’ve even changed out of my pajamas or had breakfast. (No one is paying me for this one, mind you.) But, there it is in my news feed: Someone wrote “I just love this kitten Apollo he lives in the multipurpose room, we adopted him.” I cannot ignore it—not on my life. No matter how groggy I may be, the part of my brain that drives my editing has snapped to life. As soon as I see the first error in that status and keep reading, my brain fanatically starts adding punctuation and changing words, rewriting the status as each new word registers. Now the corrected status reads: “I just love this kitten, Apollo, who lives in the multipurpose room. We adopted him.” Relief. Even though the real status will live on filled with errors, I have improved it, even if it never leaves my head.

Apparently it can be daunting being friends with an editor; multiple people have told me they’re afraid to write anything, for fear that I’ll tear apart their words. I can truthfully say that I have never done that. (It’s called tact!) So, I correct everything in my head—with my invisible pen on the invisible paper that will never become tangible to see the light of day. That’s just one status on one website. The day has barely started. I decide to turn on the morning TV news while getting ready, knowing it’s inevitable that I will hear reporters use words incorrectly and will see bulleted graphics on the screen with capitalization gone wild (“If a Passenger is in Distress, notify a Crew member immediately”). (Editor, editor, anywhere?)

Oh, and I bought this new face mask online, so I have to read the directions on the bottle’s label to know how long to leave it on. “Apply to dry Face, leave on face untill cracks appear.” Oh, no. Well, that just won’t do. Why in the world has someone determined that “face” is important enough to be a proper noun? (Hence the capitalization, which is only applied to one of the mentions of “face,” BTW.) Also, there’s an ugly comma splice staring at me as though it just doesn’t care. Don’t bring in a measly comma to do a period’s work! While we’re at it: Was there no spell check available at any point during this label’s life? Who dropped the ball and misspelled “until”? Finally, don’t even get me started on the ambiguity! “Untill” cracks appear in what? My face? I hope the writer means the mask, but I’m not so confident with that person’s competence so far! How hard is it to write “Apply the product to a dry face. Leave it on until cracks appear in the mask”? At least it’s filed away in my invisible, mental filing cabinet. Crisis rectified! I feel better. Still, maybe I should hold off on the mask and check the reviews again to see if anyone got any weird results thanks to the rest of the instructions.

Now, all that exasperation and mental turmoil happened much faster in person than it took to explain, but it was no less intense. (And no, there’s no off switch; I can’t unsee errors.) At last, after a few more steps that don’t involve reading, my morning routine is complete, and I’m ready for the real work. Come at me, you filthy, pathetic wannabe sentences! I. Will. RUIN YOU! Ahem. I mean . . . This is your friendly, peaceful Texas editor signing off and saying have a nice day.

Editor Amy