Monday, October 13, 2008

Meet the Editors: Suz

And here's our other Aussie editor.

Sue-Ellen Gower

What is your background and experience in editing?
It took two retrenchments within a year and a midlife crisis a few years back to get me to open my eyes and look at what other skills I had that I could market. A love of English and a lifelong love of reading turned me to editing. I went back to college and gained a Diploma in Professional Editing and Proofreading, then started searching for the perfect venue for my “talents”. A short stint doing academic editing made me realize I needed something a bit more stimulating to keep me awake at my “job” . I pitched my talents to Raelene five years ago, and haven’t looked back. I’ve found my niche and I love it.

How would you describe your editing style?
All editors have their strength, and I think mine is the emotional and motivational arcs in the story. And while I can pick a story to death with punctuation and grammar as well as the next editor, I tend to nail my authors if they’re short-changing on the emotional goodies. I want to fall in love with their characters. I want the readers to feel the same. So if you aren’t giving me that connection, trust me, you’ll hear about it. I’m honest with my authors—if a scene isn’t working, I can be a bit blunt, although I’m working on that . I’m quite sure they’d rather hear it from me than a slew of readers or reviewers. By the same token, I like to share my laughs if you’ve raised a chuckle, and my tears if you’ve made me cry (crying is good!! It means you hit the emotional bullseye!). Bottom line, I want that book to be the best it can be. So if I’m tough in helping my authors achieve it, I hope they forgive me for some of the “bruises” acquired along the way. I follow my gut a lot on what I think works (or doesn’t) in stories, but at the end of the day it’s your story. An editor can only advise—I guess that’s where the “trust” element comes in.

What is your favorite thing about editing?
What, I can only pick one? Obviously reading. And I get first peek at the books of some of the best authors in the genre! Lucky me :-) But I really love the whole editor/author relationship. There’s a level of trust that builds along the way—and it’s a two-way street. I absolutely want their story to be the best, and if I have to needle, motivate, bully, cosset—heavens, send hugs if necessary—to help make that happen, then I’m there for them. There’s incredible satisfaction in seeing them achieve their dreams on a career level. That’s the payoff for me—seeing them grow into the author they dream of being and knowing I’ve helped them achieve that in some small way.

What are your pet peeves in books or submissions?
TSTL heroines. Trust me, you don’t want to go there. Clich├ęd storylines or phrases (do NOT give me that “dance as old as time” phrase or I’ll spit rubber bullets at you. ;-) Sloppy punctuation and grammar. For new authors, that submission is your one big chance to impress me. If I have to wade through a messy manuscript to find the story, that says to me that you’re not serious and you really don’t care, so why should I? For that first submission, if you want it to stand a chance, you owe it to yourself to pay for a professional proofreader. Just do it.

For personal reading, what are your favorite genres and all-time favorite books?
I’m very eclectic in my reading tastes. Mystery, romance, historicals, bios... Anything, really, except for horror. I’m easily scared and I like to sleep easy at night.

Favorite authors (I generally read their whole backlist once I’m hooked):
Wilbur Smith
Ken Follet
Karen Marie Moning
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Clive Cussler
Jean M. Auel
Sandra Hill
LaVyrle Spencer
Lisa Marie Rice...

The list really is endless. And lastly my authors. I have what I consider some of the best talent in the erotic romance genre overall—not just at Ellora’s Cave. And they’d be auto-buys for me even if I weren’t their editor. So how lucky am I? ;-)


Anonymous said...

I dread getting her edit letters :) I cringe at seeing the number of comments embedded in my manuscripts when she sends them back after reading them (I think the record was 200 for Calista's Men).

But I trust her judgement and without exception, every story that passes through her hands is made better by having her touch it.

28 EC stories later, I still feel like I hit the jackpot getting SEG as my editor. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without her.

Jory Strong

Kate Willoughby said...

I haven't been with Suz as long as Jory, but I love having a tough editor. I open my edit letters from her with mixed feelings. Whenever I turn in a book I hope I've done fantastic job, but I always expect to have missed a few things because I've been so close to the story for so long. So, that makes me a little afraid. But then again, I always love when Suz comments, "Loved this part!" That for me is literary endorphins. (Or maybe it's more like the fish you feed to seal after they've done a trick... LOL)

Anyway, I want honesty above all else. My ultimate goal is to put out the best book I can, and consider my ego to be collateral damage, and Suz knows that. I rely her to tell me if a heroine (or hero) is TSTL, because if she is, I'll kill the chick myself!