Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet the Editor: Briana St. James

Meet Bree, one of our longest-term editors.

What is your background and experience in editing?

I’ve spent much of my adult life in some facet of the book industry, as a bookseller, store manager, and purchaser. I first started out in this side of industry in the late 1990s, when I was running a book review website. An editor approached me, and I learned there was an opening for an acquisitions editor. I had several years of acquiring manuscripts and editing while also reviewing. I came to EC in 2002 as a proofreader, and began editing full-time in early 2003.

How would you describe your editing style?

Interactive. There are some authors who like brainstorming, and I quite enjoy that process. It is a real treat to see a story come to life from the germ of an idea an author has shared with me.
My philosophy is that the editor/author relationship is one of teamwork, and that we’re all united to get an author’s best work out there. Sometimes edits are very tough and other times they are a much easier process. It can vary on a book-by-book basis.
While I am concerned with grammar, my first concern is how the story reads. Are the characters memorable? Do they act within the character parameters the author has set for them? How is the pacing? Do the romantic scenes sizzle or are they more gratuitous?  Grammar comes second to me in this process, though obviously grammar and readability are equal partners in the creation and editing of a winning book.

What is your favorite thing about editing?

The authors, without a doubt. It is nothing short of a sheer pleasure to walk into a bookstore and see my authors’ works on shelves. The author has put so much trust in the editor, but it goes both ways. I hope my authors have learned a lot from me, but I have learned just as much—if not more—from working with them.
On a more practical level, I love the exposure I get to different books and writing styles. I love that this is a constant learning process. No chance for stagnation here.

What are your pet peeves in books and submissions?

If an author has not adequately researched the company and studied what EC is about and our philosophies, the author may not submit a book that suits or audience. There are some submissions that are either far too long or short, are neither romance or erotic (depending on the line targeted), or just don’t meet EC’s philosophies. It is very unlikely that an unsuitable book will be signed, and takes away from both the author’s time and submitting process and mine.

The most important piece of advice is to be a good submitter and know your market. The second is to send the cleanest, most professional manuscript possible. This is the editor’s first look at your work. Dress it up with a pretty bow!

I also sometimes have trouble with historical submissions that use words or phrases that the characters would have no way of knowing. “Rev your engines” in a Regency will never work, and the Romans didn’t have Pampers or Band-Aids.

For personal reading, what are your favorite genres and all-time favorite books?

Gosh, I read almost everything! I have a particular fondness for old Hollywood biographies, biographies of musicians, alternate history novels and political thrillers. Make what you may of that! My all-time favorite books list changes almost by the day, but books that are being read and reread include.

The Stand by Stephen King
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Pieces of My Heart by Robert Wagner
Robert Ludlum’s early works
Clapton! by Ray Coleman
Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove


Ju Dimello said...

Hiya Bree!!

:Waves madly and jumps up and down:

As a "to-be" author editing my first ever book, I must say, you're fantastic :) - from answering all my newbie questions to guiding me (my story) with a firm hand - I feel great to be working with you, Bree! Thank you :)

It was nice to know more about you through this spotlight and learn valuable information!

Unknown said...

*tackle hugs Bree*

I love you.

Frances Stockton said...

Hi Bree,
What a lovely interview! It is a pleasure to be among your authors and to have your assistance and guidance.

Cora Zane said...

Great interview! I recognize Briana from twitter. *waves* :D

BTW, I'm loving these editors features. Keep up the good work, EC!

Suzanne Rock said...

YAY! Great interview Bree. You really are one of the best editors out there. IMHO, of course, but I think others will agree with me. :)

Stormie Kent said...

Hi Bree!
I have been waiting to see you "spotlighted" forever. Great interview. You're a great editor and are very patient with the author's learning curve ;)
Luv Ya

Jan Springer said...

It's nice to find out a bit about Bree. :0) Nice to meet you, Bree.


Kelly Jamieson said...

Hi Bree! Count me as another one who is so happy to be one of your authors! I appreciate your guidance and suggestions, they always make my books better!

Helen Hardt said...

Hi Bree! Wonderful interview and excellent advice. I love To Kill a Mockingbird, too :).


Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Bree! Wonderful interview. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird too. You've been a tremendous help to me with your suggestions, making my books that much better. Thanks so much. :)

Tarot By Arwen said...

One of Bree's here as well. She is such a professional! I like that she can be friendly and sympathetic but still kick butt when it comes to making a book better.

Adele Dubois said...

Hi Bree--

I enjoyed reading your interview. As one of your authors since 2007, I appreciate the work you do to make my books the best they can be.


Kate Pearce said...

Bree was my first ever editor back in 2005 and she is just wonderful. :)

Kate St. James said...

Hi Bree!

Loved reading your interview and learning a bit more about you. Fantastic editor! Looking forward to working with you again.

Briana said...

Hello everyone :) Thanks so much for your comments!! I've really enjoyed reading them!