Editor Interview #4 – Camille Gooderham CampbellPosted: February 22, 2011
Camille is the Managing Editor of Every Day Fiction, a magazine that specializes in bringing you fine fiction in bite-sized doses.
Every day, EDF publishes a new flash fiction story that can be read during your lunch hour, on transit, or even over breakfast.
You can read the daily story online or subscribe by email or RSS feed.
- What is it about editing that drew you to it?
I actually got into editing quite by accident – it started with enjoying the critiquing and helping others in my writing group more than I was enjoying working on my own projects, which led to my getting involved with Every Day Fiction and loving the work more and more. That eventually led to the realization that I’d rather spend my days doing that type of work and let my own fiction writing be a pleasure rather than a business.
The biggest joys for me are being part of a new writer’s first publication experience, discovering emerging writers who I think will go on to successful careers, and making small suggestions that help turn a good story into a great story.
- What character/personality trait, if any, do you believe is necessary to edit well?
I don’t necessarily think that you need to have any particular character or personality traits to edit well. If you’re willing to concentrate fully on the work you’re editing, and you have a fundamental respect for both the author of the piece and the end readers it’s intended for, everything else should fall into place.
To be happy as an editor, on the other hand, you need to be patient and tolerant and tenacious, have a love of words and language, and possess at least some nitpicky perfectionist tendencies.
- What’s the most common mistake you find when you edit?
Probably sloppiness, on every level, from the nitty-gritty sloppiness of typos and misused words to the fundamental sloppiness of plot threads left hanging and tacked-on resolutions, not to mention author sloppiness outside the story – lack of attention to guidelines, submission forms not properly filled in, queries and correspondence full of typos and lacking pertinent information.
- What advice would you give aspiring editors or beginning writers?
Read. Read all kinds of things, old and new; try different genres and styles, push your reading boundaries. Reading will teach you more about language and style than any class or expert advice could.
Volunteer as a slush reader. The slush piles of the world are full of lessons to be learned, for both writers and editors.
Don’t fall too much into fashions and fads in writing; listen to the advice that’s out there and apply it sensibly, but beware of absolutes – if everyone cut out every modifier, showed everything and told nothing, banned the passive voice altogether and eliminated all dialogue tags except “said”, we’d lose a lot of unique voices into a nicely crafted sameness.
Finally, everything in this business takes longer than you think it will (from writing and polishing a novel to developing a career as a freelance editor to starting up a magazine or publishing house), so give yourself time.
- Would you share your favorite editing resources with us (books, web sites, conferences, etc.)?
Google is my go-to tool for everything from fact-checking to researching alternate grammatical usage and regional expressions to scouting for prior publication and/or plagiarism. I use Google a lot.
I don’t tend to actively reference books on writing or editing very often, but I like Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing.
Also, as part of the Every Day Publishing family of magazines, we have Flash Fiction Chronicles, which I read regularly (and to which I occasionally contribute as well). Although it’s intended for writers and is about the craft of writing, I always find the variety of perspectives and opinions enlightening for me as an editor.
I follow several blogs of writers and editors I admire, and I have learned a lot from those too.
But really the best resource for any writer or editor is just to read all the time, in one’s field and outside of it, as much as possible.
- Anything else you’d like to add regarding editing?
Only that there are many kinds of editing jobs and not every editor (or aspiring editor) is suited to all of them.
Once upon a time, I used to believe that “real editors” worked in-house for large publishers, and that if you didn’t live in London or New York you were out of luck, but that’s just one small facet of what’s possible. Someone who is completely happy working as an in-house fiction editor for a large publisher may not be at all content freelancing or heading a start-up magazine, or vice versa. Someone who enjoys more substantive editing may find copyediting or line editing tedious, where a different person might have trouble leaving the nitpicks aside for the next round.
Anyone considering an editing career should not be misled into thinking that there is only one kind of editing job; there are so many different things that you can do with editing skills.
Camille, that was a great peek into the mind of an editor. Thank you for your time. I love reading these interviews.