I contacted Kathy after I read about her in a newsletter that I subscribe to. She was very pleasant and when I read the stuff on her website, I was impressed with the work she’s done so far. She agreed to my request to be interviewed and it is with great pleasure, I introduce to you, Kathy Ide.
Aneeta: Hi, Kathy. Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview.
Kathy: My pleasure, Aneeta.
Aneeta: Before we start going into the kind of work you do, please tell me a little about yourself: who you are, where you live.
Kathy: I am the mother of two grown boys and the grateful wife of a loving husband. I live in sunny Southern California (Brea, to be exact…about fifteen minutes north of Disneyland). But I grew up in the Midwest (Illinois and Minnesota), so there’s still a lot of small-town girl in me.
Aneeta: I understand you are a published writer. How did you get started?
Kathy: In 1988, a friend of mine invited me to attend a writers conference. Prior to that, I guess I thought authors were people who went to college, got a degree in Creative Writing, then went to work full time for a publishing house. At this conference I learned that most authors have regular day jobs and write in their free time. So I decided to give it a try.
Aneeta: Please tell me about some of your works.
Kathy: Over the years, I’ve sold magazine articles, short stories, play and movie scripts, devotionals, and curriculum. I’ve also written three books for writers: “Polishing the PUGS: Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling,” “Christian Drama Publishing,” and “Typing without Pain.”
Aneeta: I had a look at your works in progress on your Web site. My goodness, that’s quite a list. My question is this: Is it wise to write different books on different issues/ideas/themes at the same time? What are the benefits of working on something else while the first piece of work is yet unfinished?
Kathy: There are pros and cons, of course. On the one hand, it can be difficult to focus on multiple projects simultaneously. However, if the projects are very different, you may find yourself inspired to work on one manuscript one day and another manuscript the next day. In addition, you never know which project is going to “pay off.” For example, I’ve collected an amazing group of short fiction stories—some from very famous and prolific novelists—but I haven’t been able to find a publisher for it. On the other hand, several publishers have expressed serious interest in my science fiction novel, but that has taken longer to finish writing than I anticipated because the plotline needed to be completely overhauled. But after I finish that and get it out to publishers, I can get back to working on some of my other projects. By the time that book goes through the publishing process and finally hits the shelves, I should have another one all ready to go. One of my “works in progress” is a screenplay that has been optioned by a Hollywood director, but he hasn’t found a producer for it yet. So my part on that project is done…for now. But if he finds a producer and needs me to do some rewriting, I’ll change my focus to that for a while. A lot depends on your personality. Some people just can’t juggle multiple projects; others thrive on the diversity.
Aneeta: In addition to writing, I understand you’re a full-time freelance editor. How did you get started doing that?
Kathy: In 1998, I lost my full-time day job just a few months after my husband and I bought our first house. Seeing this as an opportunity, my husband asked me what I’d do for a living if I could do anything in the world. Without hesitation, I said, “Write! But I can’t make the kind of income writing that I was making at my office job.” Since we couldn’t afford for me to just sit at home and write all day, my husband asked me what my second choice would be. I told him, “I really enjoy helping other people improve their writing.” He suggested I see if I could turn that into a career. God has blessed my business so much, I’ve had far less time to write than I thought I would! But I love helping other authors with their manuscripts almost as much as I enjoy working on my own.
Aneeta: You have this very interesting thing called the PUGS Pointers. Please, do explain what this is all about.
Kathy: I write a “PUGS Pointers” column for a number of writers publications. It came out of my book, “Polishing the PUGS.” It provides tips on punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling, highlighting the areas that most authors struggle with, based on the manuscripts I’ve edited over the years…as well as the rules I’ve had to look up over and over for myself.
Aneeta: I understand you provide five different sets of professional services: proofreading, line-by-line copyediting, in-depth critique, marketing assistance and a mentoring service. For the benefit of my readers, who are mostly storytellers who are starting out on their storytelling adventures, can you please explain, briefly, what each one of these means.
Kathy: Proofreading is a basic check for typos and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. A line-by-line copyedit checks for a number of things, like pronouns that don’t modify the appropriate nouns, tense inconsistencies, dangling modifiers, repetitive words or phrases, run-on sentences, and stilted, vague, or awkward wording. For fiction manuscripts, I highlight areas where the author needs to “show, not tell,” use active voice rather than passive, fix point-of-view slips, and reword unrealistic dialogue. An in-depth critique looks for such things as development, consistency, pace, and ease of readability. I point out the strengths and weaknesses in the manuscript and provide suggestions for overall improvement. My marketing assistance consists of proofreading, editing, and critiquing a query/cover letter, synopsis or summary, and other facets of a book proposal. For writers who are interested in a long-term working relationship, I provide a mentoring service in which they can learn a variety of writing techniques using their own manuscript(s) for the lessons. I offer ongoing professional instruction, practical advice, specific suggestions, and encouragement to help authors hone their skills and take their writing abilities to the next level. One of the authors I’ve been mentoring recently signed a three-book series contract with a major Christian publisher. I think I was almost as excited about it as she was!
Aneeta: How can people send you their work? Do they have to send a printed copy or do you accept submissions via e-mail? This is an important consideration for people who are in Asia and Africa, as when the editor demands that the submission be printed out, there is not only that cost to be factored in, there is also the cost of postage, and sometimes this can be just too much money for an aspiring author to have to spend.
Kathy: I do both printed-copy and e-mail edits. But most of my work these days is done online. It’s so much cheaper, easier, and faster…even if you don’t live halfway around the world. Microsoft Word has a wonderful feature called Track Changes. It’s easy to use and simple to learn, and it shows all the corrections and suggestions I make in color. The author can then “accept” or “reject” any of my changes with the click of a mouse.
Aneeta: I saw something on your site about an editor’s network. Tell me about that.
Kathy: I started The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network when my editing schedule became so busy I didn’t have time to do all my work, much less spend time with my family or have fun. Basically, I wanted to have a group of editors that I could pass on some of my new potential clients to. (I have SUCH a hard time saying no to anyone! It’s easier for me to say, “I really don’t have the time right now, but I can refer you.”) I also thought it would be great to have a place where professional Christian freelancers could come together for networking, getting their questions answered, and finding the training and assistance they need to be successful. The Christian PEN has become all that and more.
Aneeta: I notice that this group is limited to Christians only. Is there a reason for that restriction?
Kathy: I’m a Christian myself, and most of what I read for my own personal enjoyment is Christian literature. Most of what I write is for a Christian audience, and most of the conferences I speak at are Christian conferences. Therefore, the majority of my potential clients are Christians. And most of them are looking for Christian editors, even if their manuscripts aren’t specifically for the Christian market. Sometimes they just want to know that the person they’re dealing with has the same values and morals they do. But often, their material deals with aspects of Christian living or doctrine/theology, and they want to make sure their editor understands where they’re coming from. In addition, Christian publishers are different in some respects from general-market publishers. They have unique needs and are looking for specific things in their manuscripts that aren’t always the same as the commercial publishers. There are other networks out there for editors in general. But I could not find an organization specifically geared for Christian freelancers. So I decided to start my own.
Aneeta: Most enterprising! Please tell me, how can my readers contact you?
Kathy: First, they may want to check out my Web site, www.KathyIde.com. There’s a description of my editing services there, as well as a list of books I’ve edited, testimonials from clients, my speaking schedule and list of topics I teach on, writing tips, and a page of my published works, including my books for writers. Anyone who is interested in my editing network could go to www.TheChristianPEN.com. Or your readers could e-mail me at Kathy@KathyIde.com.
Aneeta: Well, I think that’s all we have time for. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kathy: Aneeta, shortly after I started my editing business, I came up with a motto that describes my heart well. It’s this: “Writing is my passion. Helping others improve their writing is my delight.” This has proven true more and more over the years. I really do love writing, telling stories through word pictures. I also love working with authors, helping them achieve their full potential, and rejoicing with them when they see their stories in print.
Aneeta: Thank you so much for sharing all this information with us.
Kathy: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share myself with your readers.
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