"Letter to the Editor" : An Interview with Tiffany Grimes.
Today I have something very special to share with you all! This is my first-ever editor interview and I had the pleasure to talk to Tiffany Grimes of Burgeon Design and Editorial. We discussed why an editor is so important, the services she offers to authors, and what really goes into editing. I learned a lot...and hopefully you will too!
L: Please, tell us a little bit about yourself!
T: I’m tea obsessed (love earl gray!) and have two cats I adore. I live in Portland, OR and have important life rules that include hiking every month and traveling out of the country every year.
L: How did you get into editing?
T: I actually started editing in high school! I was the executive editor of our literary magazine. I was always in journalism and worked on the yearbook and newspaper in various editorial positions. I went on to become the managing editor of my college’s literary journal, FLARE: The Flagler Review and have been freelancing ever since! I finally created Burgeon in 2019 so I could edit and write full time.
L: You run Burgeon Design and Editorial. Can you explain what that is?
T: At Burgeon Design and Editorial, I work with writers to elevate their writing and help launch their writing careers, whether by editing, cheerleading, or designing their website. I provide free, exclusive content to my subscribers relating to writing, editing, and publishing and send out a weekly newsletter.
L: What are you looking for in clients?
T: I’m looking for writers who are motivated and willing to put in the time and energy it takes to complete revisions. (It’s a lot, but I am always available for questions and guidance throughout the process!)
L: Can you lay out what the process is like once you've accepted someone as a client?
T: My most popular edit is my manuscript critique, which is a deep dive into your novel. I look at content, structure, plot, dialogue, etc. For this edit, the client sends me their manuscript (in Microsoft Word), and I spend 3-4 weeks editing. Through this process I’ll read the manuscript multiple times, leave notes and suggestions throughout, and then write up a 5-15 page editorial letter. Afterwards, I provide 2 hours of post communication, answering any questions they may have. Some authors want to video chat while others are fine with emailing. This is pretty much how it works for all of my services!
L: What services do you offer at each stage of editing? Could you explain those stages?
T: I offer a manuscript critique, proofreading and copy editing, and a query letter critique.
My manuscript critique combines developmental editing with more of a deep dive than a traditional developmental edit. I provide in-line comments and point out word choice and any glaring grammar mistakes as well as a 5-15 page editorial letter.
In my proofreading and copy editing critique, I just look at the words on the page and help correct any grammar issues and tighten word choice and pay attention to word flow. This is great for those who have a solid plot and structure and just need help with polishing their manuscript.
And in my query letter critique, I help make query letters submission ready. Query letters are like job applications and first impressions are important. I help writers not only craft a solid hook, but make sure the rest of the letter is just as strong.
L: How should writers prepare their manuscript before sending it your way?
T: Ideally before working with an editor, writers will want to make their book the best they can on their own. This includes getting feedback from beta readers and writing groups as well and implementing any changes. Some writers don’t have accessibility to beta readers or writing groups, and that’s fine, too. It’s not a requirement. You’d just want your book to be as ready as you can so you aren’t wasting any time with your editor by focusing on mistakes you already knew you had (unless you don’t know how to fix them. I can help with that!)
L: How hands-on are you with the author?
T: It depends on the author— I get really invested in the work I edit and the authors I work with, so I do everything I can to help. This includes providing any follow up materials or answering any questions throughout the whole process. Some writers love to have a video chat after an edit to go over everything while others prefer to email. I’m pretty flexible and understand that writers work in completely different ways and have different needs.
L: What are some genres that you prefer to work with?
T: My favorite genres to work with are young adult, middle grade, and adult sci-fi, fantasy, romance, or contemporary fiction. I read these the most and I have the most fun with them! But I often work with other genres.
L: How can a writer prepare themselves for receiving edits?
T: Getting feedback is a lot. It includes hundreds of comments throughout the manuscript and a long letter detailing everything that’s working and things that need a little help, but I try very hard to keep my feedback positive and constructive! Comments aren’t supposed to feel hurtful. We have the same goal in mind and are both working toward making your book the best it can be.
What I’d recommend: read through everything when you’re in a clear headspace. Keep in mind that the revision process is lengthy and hard for everyone and there’s no right way to do it. Feel free to communicate with your editor if certain elements of the critique don’t sit well. Sometimes feedback doesn’t make sense! Don’t hesitate to follow up.
L: Why should writers work with an editing service?
T : Reasons people might want to work with an editing service include (but are not limited to!):
1. When self-publishing, an editor can help you make your manuscript stronger and ready to sell.
2. When going the traditional publishing route, you might find that you’re getting requests for fulls but then ultimately get rejected. Or you might not have any luck getting requests at all. You might consider hiring an editor to help you strengthen your book or query letter.
3. If you are a new writer, but don’t know how to find the right resources or craft books, an editor can help guide you.
L: What are some misconceptions about editors?
T: That they’re mean, maybe? Which is quite untrue! Every editor I know is insanely nice.
L: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
T: I absolutely adore helping people take steps toward making their book dreams come true. This fuels me!
L: If someone is looking at getting into freelance editing, what advice would you give them?
T: Read tons and learn everything you can about craft (and think of it as an ongoing journey! You'll never stop reading craft books and learning about writing).
L: What are some frequently asked questions for editors?
T: The most popular question I get is whether a writer should self-publish or traditionally publish and, unfortunately, there’s no answer I can give! Everyone is different with wildly different goals. You’ll want to research both and see what works best for you.
L: Any final thoughts?
T: No, this was great! Thanks so much, Lev!
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