Today, we’re excited to have a Q&A with Kathy Ide, editor, author, and founder of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network and Christian Editor Connection. Her organization gave out 2 awards at this year’s Realm Makers conference. Find out a little more in the interview . . .
How did you get started in your career as an editor?
In 1988, a friend of mine told me she was putting together a Christian Writers Conference at Biola University and needed some administrative help (stuffing envelopes and such). So I helped her out. I was so much help, she asked if I’d like to attend the conference, free of charge. I didn’t have anything better to do, so I said, “Sure, why not?”
I could tell you all kinds of stories about the conference, but suffice it to say that I loved it! It opened up a whole new world to me. I learned that the names on the covers of the books I loved to read represented real people, normal folks who weren’t all that different from me. They sat on the grass and ate hot dogs and potato chips, just like the rest of us!
After the conference, I wrote an article and mailed it out, and it got accepted by the first publisher I sent it to (little realizing at the time how unusual that was). I then sent out some play scripts I’d written for a drama team at church, and they got accepted too. I wrote more, got more acceptances (along with plenty of rejections as well, of course). I was on a roll!
In 1991, I took a correspondence course in transcribing court reports. I really enjoyed it and did well at it. So well, in fact, that when I graduated, I was offered a job as an instructor. The work could be done almost exclusively at home, so I grabbed the opportunity. It was a real kick for me. I graded students’ papers for format and accuracy as well as punctuation, spelling, usage, and consistency. That really helped me develop a keen eye for the written word. And I learned a lot of things I’d never known before (like when words like “awhile” and “setup” and “anymore” should be spelled as two words instead of one). At the time, I had no idea how well that would prepare me for a career in writing and editing. When the school went out of business here in California I had to get a “real” job. I worked as an Administrative Assistant and Sales Administrator. Then I got a job as a computer graphic designer creating menus for restaurants.
During this time, I was writing magazine articles, play scripts, devotionals, short stories, and Sunday school curriculum in my “spare time” (before work, during lunch, after work, and occasional weekends) and actually getting them published. Although Biola stopped hosting a writers conference in 1990, I attended others: ACW in Fullerton, Mount Hermon in northern California, and a couple in San Diego. I also did some critiquing for a friend’s manuscript critique service, which I really enjoyed.
When I got tendonitis in both thumbs and both wrists, I was told I had to find a job that didn’t require using a computer keyboard or any other type of repetitive motion. Not an easy task! I got a professional-edition voice-recognition software program. But I couldn’t find an office job that would allow me to sit around and talk to my computer all day.
After a few months of wandering and wondering what God had in mind for me, my husband asked me what I loved doing more than anything in the world. I answered without a moment’s hesitation. “Writing! But I can’t make a living at it … not yet, anyway.” He asked what I loved doing next best. I told him I enjoyed editing for the critique service because I liked helping other people improve their writing. He encouraged me to see if I could build that into a full-time career.
Well, I did. I now work at home, editing and critiquing manuscripts, and I have never been happier! I’ve expanded from that first critique service and now take on editing clients from all kinds of places. I’ve even started working on some coauthoring projects. The great thing is, I can earn a good living and still have time to work on my own manuscripts. Writing is my passion, and helping others improve their writing is my delight!
What was your purpose in writing Proofreading Secrets?
To give aspiring writers, established authors, proofreaders, editors, and publishers a quick-reference tool to proofread manuscripts to minimize typos and other errors in published works, thereby improving those books (and the overall quality of the publishing industry in general).
Additionally, to expand my reputation as a professional freelance editor and thereby obtain additional clients who can be helped by my work.
Also, to increase awareness of my editor network that helps people have successful freelance proofreading/editing businesses and the editor network that connects authors, agents, and publishers with freelance editors that fit their projects.
It is my hope that this book becomes the first in a series of Secrets of Best-Selling Authors books, all of which would have the same motives and purposes.
How was your personal background involved in the writing of this book?
I have been a published author since 1989. I’ve written books, magazine articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, curriculum, and devotionals. I’ve been a member of several writers’ groups over the years, both in person and online. And I’ve attended numerous writers’ conferences across the country.
I have been a full-time freelance editor/proofreader since 1998. I’ve worked with new writers, established authors, commercial publishing houses, and subsidy publishers. I mentor aspiring writers, taking them from “I’ve never had anything published, so I don’t even know if I have what it takes, but I have a passion in my heart to write and I want to learn how to do it right” to landing an agent, getting a book contract, and seeing their work in print. Many of my clients have successfully self-published books. Several have won awards and contests. Some have become best-selling authors in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and/or the ABA (American Booksellers Association).
I am also the founder and director of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network and the Christian Editor Network. And I speak at several writers’ conferences every year.
My familiarity with the publishing industry’s reference books began when I started proofreading for publishers. If something didn’t look right to me, I wasn’t allowed to simply change it to whatever I thought was correct. If I marked a revision to the galleys, I had to make a notation in the margin stating which reference manual I found the correct spelling or punctuation rule in, and what section or page number applied.
I found myself looking up many of the same words and rules repeatedly, so I started a “cheat sheet” for myself. As this list grew, I shared it with other writers and editors, and they found it so helpful I printed copies and put them in a binder. I sold it to clients, colleagues, and writers’ conference attendees. Their input helped me determine what content would be most beneficial and which examples were most clearly understood.
After years of this “market research,” I added a section of proofreading tips from some of the best-selling authors I’ve had the privilege of coming to know. The result is a cornucopia of ideas to help writers and editors catch every typo, inconsistency, inaccuracy, and “PUGS” mistake that may be hiding in a manuscript.
Kathy Ide is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/writing mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. In addition to being the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, she is the editor/compiler for the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. Kathy is the founder and director of the Christian Editor Network (www.ChristianEditor.Network.com), parent company of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com), the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com), The PEN Institute, and PENCON—the only annual conference for Christian freelance editors. To find out more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com.