Friday, October 22, 2010

Seekerville Welcomes Caroline Tolley

Tina here: I've been a contest diva for many years. Too many years in fact. Sometimes when you get to that point in your career where you have plateaued, winning contests, but not selling books, you might want to consider as I did, talking to a freelance book editor. I asked Caroline Tolley to stop by Seekerville to share a little bit of what she does for both unpublished and published clients. So here in her own words is a glimpse into what this freelance book editor does.

I’d like to preface by saying two things. First, that hiring a freelance book editor is not going to guarantee you will get published. Second, there are no hard and fast rules about how an editor should edit. I am sure that all editors work in different ways. To be clear, the information that I am sharing applies to me and only me. I am not speaking for other professionals in the freelance editing business.

I am a large canvas editor. I read with two hats on; my reader hat and my editor hat. I use my reactions on both levels to form suggestions for clients. I work only on hard copy with a regular blue pen. I react as I read and clients can often find scribbles in the margins. I do not censor these comments or try to sugar-coat a reaction if it happens to be negative. I do not believe that it makes sense to wear kid gloves while working for a client.

As any reader can tell you, I am looking for a great story. Something that hooks me, holds me and lures/lulls me, to a satisfying ending. I don’t follow a formula or have a checklist. I focus on the main characters; are they likable; are they believable; are the circumstances believable. I have no problem with an old plot with a new twist. I look for pacing. I hate clichés. I hate cop-outs. I focus on tense. I focus a lot on point of view. Are there too many at one time? Is reading like watching a tennis match? Am I with one character enough to get a grasp on that character or being moved onto someone else too quickly? Conflict is always a big issue for writers and seems to come up a lot in conversation. Does one character have something another character wants? If I am reading a love story, is there an obstacle that needs to be overcome? Does Life throw a believable curve ball at these folks?

Sometimes I do edit toward the market. Is it funny enough? Is it sexy enough? Is the police procedure creative? Is the puzzle hard to solve? Do I feel the jeopardy the character is in? Does the writer know where she/he would like this manuscript to end up? Is there an audience out there that might be the right one?

I prefer to complete two edits. The first is the big edit; the broad strokes. Once revisions have been done, I read again. Most times it is here that I focus on the nuts and bolts of grammar and such, though that is really not something I pay that much attention to. I don’t know how many freelancers offer two reads as part of their package. But I can’t see how one can consider a job finished without editing again.

I am not a writer. I do not have books on my desk about style and rules. I don’t pick up on dangling participles or esoteric rules.

I don’t focus on margin size, font size, etc. While I do always ask that manuscripts be double-spaced, the rest just isn’t on my radar. That all comes much later.

My job is to fix, enhance, suggest, support, listen, bring to light what may be hidden. Oftentimes, a bad idea can spark a better idea. Try this; how about that; move this here; make this person funnier. It’s the larger stuff that I focus on first. I don’t make big “x’s” through sections unless totally necessary. I like to have a free-flowing style…talk off the top of my head; listen to my initial reactions. I am not a creative writing teacher. I don’t offer classes. I fix books to the best of my ability and use my 20 years in the commercial fiction business to aid clients in any way I can.

I can and do consult on career paths. I can and do consult on agents. I try to steer clients in the right direction so they aren’t wasting valuable time. Sometimes I say, “you should put this one away and start a new one.” I’ve worked with a ton of authors at all different levels of experience. Most appreciate the honest and straightforward approach which is a signature of mine. I am not a hand-holder as anyone who knows me will tell you! Although any time a client needs to talk, I try to make myself available.

A freelance job for me is not a quick thing. It takes time. I try to work quickly as I know there is an anxiousness to get results and move forward. But sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. I fly by the seat of my pants a lot. I listen to my immediate reactions a lot, both positive and negative. I think of myself as an author’s editor rather than a company person (so to speak). Editing for me is a truly enjoyable thing. It was always the favorite part about my job when I was in Corporate America. I think of my work as entering into short-term partnerships; helping to create something, making it great and then patting it on the head and sending it on its way.


Caroline Tolley was an editor at Pocket Books from 1989-2002. In that time, she advanced to the Executive Editor level, having worked with numerous New York Times bestselling authors including Karen Robards, Andrea Kane and Carla Neggers. Her list of authors included many romance writers who made appearances on the the USA TODAY and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY bestseller lists. In 2002, Caroline launched her own freelance editing business, The Book Editor 4 U. In this capacity, she works with authors of all genres of popular fiction, YA and Literary Fiction. She utilizes her many years in the publishing industry to offer a complete package to clients which includes editing, consulting, market analysis and career planning.

Today in Seekerville we are giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one commenter. Winner will be announced in the Weekend Edition.

If you would like to send Caroline a message to discuss projects and rates, please send us a note through the Seekerville email address and we are happy to forward it along.


  1. Wow Caroline you sound like a no nonsense kinda gal! It's nice to meet you! I HATE editing but I'm always asked to edit papers for some dumb reason...just 'cause I graduated from college doesn't mean I'm an expert LOL! I know where to tunr if I ever need an expert though! Thanks so much!

    XOXO~ Renee

  2. Oooo hey I just remembered Seekerville is taking applications for a late night comment editor you should apply Caroline. ;-) LOL I'm kidding!

    XOXO~ Renee

  3. I am sooo thrilled to have Caroline here I brought out the big coffee carafes and I have copies of the NYTimes all over the room to make her feel at home.

    We've also catered in breakfast from my favorite deli.

    Welcome Caroline.

  4. Contest diva...

    Love the title :).

    No nonsense is right Renee!

    I have a former editor friend looking over my MS right now - can you say EEK?!

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  5. Thanks Caroline, and Tina for asking you here!

    Sounds like you are exactly what the doctor ordered.

    Readers are unforgiving in many respects, particularly for debut authors so I'd think your approach is the right one.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today! :)

    MMMM - deli breakfast - YUM!

    May at maythek9spy dot com

    PS: Camy book sighting at local Kroger today!!!

  6. Caroline, it sounds like you get the job done. I think I need to learn a few things from you. Need an assistant? LOL. I would have loved to be a book editor. I am a lot better at editing other people's work than I am my own work. I always end up re-writing my own work rather than editing it. Maybe I need a freelance editor. You definitely gave me something to think about.

  7. I've got hot cocoa with whipped cream!

    Caroline, welcome to Seekerville. It's good to see thing from an editor's point of view.

    I don’t pick up on dangling participles or esoteric rules.

    I love seeing this. I'm always getting dinged for dangling participles. I don't think they have anything to do with my lack of grammar skills as much as it does that I tend to reverse everything. Words and thoughts. I could probably type backwards faster than forwards, so when I am in a writing mode I don't tend to stop and wonder if my thoughts are being typed out of order, which often leaves me with danglers. And when I revise, I never notice the difference, not even when they are pointed out. I think the comes from being a dyslexic thinker ;)

  8. I used to edit stories for people, but wow, it must be much more difficult (and probably more fulfilling,too) to edit real books. awesome interview!

    sadiekate2001 at

  9. Thanks, Caroline, for educating us on what a freelance editor does. I appreciate the fact that you don't hold your clients' hands but do provide them with honest feedback that will help them improve their stories.

    I've learned that accepting feedback during my unpubbed days is good training for what's to come. One of my CPs is published, so I'm getting a behind the scenes look at how much work is done on a book once it's contracted. Lots! I'll be more prepared for the realities of life on the other side of a contract because I've been able to witness the effort my CP is putting forth in order to get her story ready to go to press.

    I'm agented and have a story out on submission for the first time ever, but in order to reach this point, I received plenty of constructive criticism. I did my best to heed it (after taking a couple of days to let the feelings bleed off) because I realized the comments were on target and that heeding them would make my story stronger.

    Thanks, Tina, for inviting Caroline.

  10. Wow, Caroline--great to meet you and learn a bit more about the kinds of help and editing you offer!

  11. Awesome post. I enjoyed reading about what an editor does.


  12. Tina, thanks for sharing about what helped you get to the next level. It seems it does "take a village."

    Caroline, I especially appreciated your comment that you are an "author's editor."

    My questions: How does a writer choose a freelance editor to assist in developing their work? Does this person have to have knowledge of a particular part of the industry or just publishing in general? Is a freelance editor useful at an earlier point in the process or is this option best only after plateauing?

    Thanks to you both.

    Peace, Julie

  13. I never knew that there was such a thing as a "freelance editor" . . . =) Definitely an interesting prospect for all the authors out here.


  14. It's nice to meet you Caroline! Thank you for sharing so much about your job and what you look for as an editor. My hope is to become a publicist or an editor (and eventually a novelist), so it's great to hear from someone who is not only in the profession now, but is very successful at what she does. :) Thank you!



  15. There seems to be so much that goes into getting published. An editor like Caroline can really help an author know if her project is something readers would purchase--which I guess is the bottom line.

    Thanks for an interesting interview, Tina and Caroline!

    reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  16. Caroline, first, allow me to say:

    We've been advising TEEEEENA to seek professional help for YEARS...

    Imagine our relief to see you here!



    You're not a Psycho-therapist Editor? More's the pity!

    I love your post. I like that Renee nailed you as a no nonsense kind of gal and I LOVE THAT KIND OF GAL.

    Straight-shootin'. Straight-forward. Industrious. Get 'er done!

    I'd love for this post to bring you business, but I'm grateful that you brought your expertise her with nothing more than the promise of cyber food.

    (Note to Vince: Cyber food goes to 'setting', sweet thaaaang, making Seekerville a welcoming abode where readers and writers can gather, not get fat, and eat to their heart's content, big guy...)

    Caroline, what would be your first bit of advice to someone who's considering your services on a professional basis?

    Another self-edit first? A critique partner? Go in 'as is'? I think that's a point of hesitation for a lot of people.

    We're doing pancake breakfast Friday here in Seekerville, fruit-or chocolate-studded pancakes made to order, OR....

    go Irish and German:

    With potato pancakes. Served with your choice of home-made real syrups, fresh butter, and sausage, bacon and ham on the side.

    Coffee selections are available on the cart being driven today by Aunt Eller, one of my favorite Okies.

  17. Oops, Teeeena, I didn't read first!!!

    Deli breakfast sounds good.

    Hold the pancake and coffee cart for Saturday please, and remember:

    it's always good to work AHEAD of the curve.

    So Saturday breakfast is ready.

  18. well darn! I was headed for a chocolate studded pancake and bacon! What's a deli breakfast? the only time I 'do' breakfast is when I have to be up(day shift) or right before snoozing after night shift and never been to a deli that time of morning.

    just hope I don't miss the next biscuits and gravy breakfast! :-)

    Hey Renee cute doggy in your picture! sheltie? my cousin had a sheltie for years and he just passed away this past year..he went through a bad marriage, divorce, 2nd marriage and birth of 2 kids..he was the only thing she fought for in the divorce and can't say I blame her since I have 2 furbabies of my own!

    ok I"m lined up at the deli thingy with a plate so someone sorta gently push me through the line..


  19. Ah, Susanna, a NYC deli breakfast is studded with great foods, sweet thang.

    Mosey on up to the counter and grab fresh (toasted or plain) bagels from Murray's down the road, they'll make you a sandwich to order with whatever you want (and yes, it's a-okay to have a chicken salad deli sandwich today), there's hash browns, skewered fruit, cream cheeses...

    And you don't even have to eat in a NY minute, we'll give you time.


  20. ooh I can have a chicken salad sandwich for breakfast?! no one will give me weird looks?! I don't think the delis here are even open that early..we have some bagel places and Panera Bread and of course the fast food drive thrus though after the stuff ya'll eat here that doesn't even sound appetizing! skewered fruit..bagels..hashbrowns..might have to visit New York!


  21. Well, Ruth for are right.

    I did need professional help.

    There are several things I learned from hiring a professional editor.

    They are nothing like a critique group. They are in fact when they have the background most like an editor. Duh. There is a big picture vision to the edit and they challenge you to dig deeper into your writing skills, deeper than you may have ever gone before as a writer. Very, very, challenging. And very much like my current editor.

    The other thing of note is that what you learn from them and the growth you experience stays with you for your future writing.

    I have some other avenues of writing that I long to pursue and I will be using Caroline's skills again to prepare me for those.

  22. Wow. Had a shower moment. Light bulb went off.

    Caroline was the editor on one of my all time favorite reads, Walking After Midnight by Karen Robards, 1995.

  23. Wow, that was a lot of onfo. Caroline has to be a patient person to do so much editing. I bet it can be a slow process at times. Enjoyed the interview.I know writers are so thankful for people like you that are blessed with the talent of editing.

  24. Good Morning,Caroline...

    Thank you for the specifics on what a freelance editor does to help improve manuscripts.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  25. Now for a few questions.

    Have you ever turned down a client?

    The project wasn't right for you?

  26. oops that was only one question.

    What's the usual turnaround time on a full length 80-10000 word msc? Is there a norm?

  27. Please enter me in the giveaway!
    I LOVE reading the Seekerville blog each day!
    Charsaltz at yahoo dot com

  28. Morning Caroline, Welcome to Seekerville. I love New York visitors because then we get the NY deli. yum.

    Thanks for sharing your info. Carla Neggers is one of my favs.

    Having worked with editors, I know that I know that you truly are what makes our writing so great. In my opinion, every good author has had a good editor. All my manuscripts ended up so much better after the editor went through it. You see things we are too close to the project to see.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Tina, you continue to surprise me. smile.

  29. I'm drinking real latte and unfortunately it has many more calories than a cyber latte, but it tastes better.

    Caroline, thanks for joining us today!

    I'm pubbed now, but I wish I'd gone with a freelance editor before I sold. When I sold Love on a Dime I was an amateur writing at my own pace whenever my muse nudged me. But my editor was/still is a professional and expected me to be as well. Of course I understood that, but it was a transition for me. When she wanted parts of the manuscript changed I had to do it quickly and I had to do it well. The work had to shine whether my muse was awake or asleep.

    If I'd had an freelance editor help me before I could've seen how editing is actually done and I would've corrected some of my mistakes first. Crit partners are wonderful, but we like each other and won't hurt each other's feelings. They're our friends. Editors are our bosses and 'business partners.' There is a big difference.

  30. Good morning! Tina, are there New York bagels there? Toasted Rye please...

    Thank you all for your commentary. It's nice to be here.

    Julie: my opinion is that if you have written say, a mystery, then you should find an editor that has edited mysteries. Why go to an academic or a technical writer who claims to be an editor, if they have no grasp of what you are doing. Seems common sense to me. There is no right or wrong time to hire; i guess if you feel that what you have done to date isn't working then it might be an option. Or sometimes when too many chefs have been in your kitchen, it's time to take a step back.

    Ruth: my answer to Julie might apply to your question as well. It's a saturation point..if you keep self-editing (how do you be objective that way?) is that going to change anything? Critique groups are awesome and wonderful support networks but they aren't editors. The writer needs to come to the decision on their own and really reflect on what they want the most.

    Tina: turn-around time on a full can take up to 6 weeks but i do not have set times that i promise. I try to work each day as much as i can but some days are slower than others. And no, I have never turned down a client. I don't feel that what I do is that kind of business. An author is coming to me for help, so i help. Simple as that.

  31. Hi, Caroline! Thanks for joining us today and sharing with us what you do. Your job must be very rewarding.

    I do have a couple questions for you concerning agents and self-publishing. Would you mind emailing me? You can reach me at lr. mullin at live. com.

    Tina, please throw my name in the hat! Thanks for bringing your friend and editor in today!

    I'm enjoying a cup of Irish Breakfast Tea and going back over the last several chapters of Finding Beth before I start wrapping up with the final chapters. Yes!

    lr. mullin at live. com


  32. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraOctober 22, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing Caroline. I like that you say you don't sugar coat the truth. It probably helps your clients that you are so honest.

    fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

  33. Hi Caroline, welcome to Seekerville! Altho I am an East Coast girl, live in NY at present, I sadly must take a pass on the deli breakfast. With my lap band weight loss surgery, those lox and bagels -- and egg sammiches -- are off limits. :-(
    Ah well, I am offering up pumpkin spice oatmeal to all -- just finished a bowl and it was tasty.
    Great hearing what you do as a roving book editor.
    jenna(at)jennavictoria dot com

  34. Hey, Tina! Excellent credentials for a freelance editor, Caroline!

    I have had lots of edits from contests as well as critique partners, but I never went the freelance editor route. I could see where someone like Caroline, who obviously have valuable experience, could speed up a book getting published!

    I think my editor edits very much like you, Caroline. She gives it several read-throughs and lets me know both what she likes and doesn't like. And I think she's pretty brilliant, and very throrough!

  35. Welcome Jenna Victoria! Great to see a new face in Seekerville.

  36. Caroline I know you don't sugar coat, but do you consider the author and their place in the writing journey as you read their manuscript as you comment or do you simply consider the manuscript?

    What I mean is often we are "taught" in a critique setting that for a new writer it's best to just give them one bone to chew on at a time rather than overwhelm them.

    Also-would you say you're big on writer anacronisms? POV, etc.

  37. Welcome to Seekerville, Caroline, and boy, could I use you right about now ... :)

    I'm nose-deep in edits on my fifth book, and wondering if an author ever gets to a point where the edits are less and less instead of more and more, as in my case. I had barely any edits on my first book, a few more on the 2nd, tons on the third and even more on the fourth. Now I'm working on massive changes for the fifth and kind of wondering if I'm in the wrong business??? :)

    Would love the benefit of your experience on this point as to what you've seen with other authors.


  38. Thanks, Caroline. I didn't phrase my question well at 3ish in the morning. I have friends who are scientific editors...good grief, what they would do to my little romance scribbles.

    Here is my do-over questions: What are the most important things to look for in a freelance editor? Their expertise within their particular genre? Must they have current connections within the publishing industry? I am thinking a writer might go to a freelancer hoping to get an "in" when that is not the right expectation. Or maybe that it is a legitimate hope in the right setting?

    There are a world of folks offering their services out there right now. How do we choose the best one for our needs and resources, and not be taken by false promises? Assuming we all can't sign up for your services, of course.

    Thanks again.

    Peace, Julie

  39. Good morning, Seekerville, and happy Friday!

    Thanks for sharing how your editing process works, Caroline -- very informative.

    Do you edit nonfiction, or just focus on fiction? I've done some NF and short story editing, but haven't tackled a full-length novel project for anyone. I can see why you go through it at least twice -- and that makes you an even bigger asset to your clients.

    Great guest to invite, Tina. Thanks for helping keep us all on track!


  40. Laura: yes, I do indeed feel that being honest is the best way to go with clients. If someone has hired me, is paying me, to do something for them, and I want to stand on my credentials, then why not give then the unvarnished truth? What kind of person would I be if I just sat back and said, "Yes, this is a GREAT work of fiction; you're a genius and a future bestseller?" How is that helpful? For a short-term ego boost that may be a lie?

    TIna: the above ties in with what you asked about do I think about the author...Absolutely. I don't want to come across as the type with no feelings; blue pen and black outfit!! lol. Yes, with new writers I do try to tone down the approach I may take with a more seasoned veteran. Having worked with so many writers, I am aware of the creative process, the muse; the moods, the frustrations, etc. I get it. Although I don't lead with warm and fuzzy, I am capable of it. :)

    Tina, what you said about being "taught"...I can see where this can happen...but from where I sit, if you have written a manuscript (a tremendous feat in and of itself) and you are putting it and yourself out there, then you have already chewed a HUGE bone. You wrote a book. If I want to comment on POV (can you clarify your question on this...), or pace or imminent threat, then it's all part of the package...the writer has done the work already and so it becomes a matter of fine-tuning and enhancing. Why aren't writers, who are clearly capable of creativity and imagination, incapable of learning more than one thing at a time? This makes no sense in my brain.

    Julie: regarding edits...I have worked with NY Times bestselling authors who have had to rewrite huge chunks of ms. It is definately a book by book process. And to be honest, some editors are lazy or don't have time or don't have the experience to know how to make it better. Nowadays, it seems like manuscripts need to be in a "done done" stage before they even are discussed at an editorial meeting. I used to know agents who did HUGE amounts of editing with clients before they agreed to send anything out. Doesn't seem to be the case these days. The bigger editors have their hands full with more corporate issues; getting bestsellers to finish their books; meetings, etc. THe newer editors have the heart and the enthusiasm but not the seasoning. Mid level editors are a good choice.

    Melanie: I just want to pick up on a phrase you used about "speeding up getting published". There is no guarantee of that with anything in this business unfortuanately. I wish there were a magic wand. But having watched this biz for so many years, the same things hold true; the cream will rise and luck will play a major part.

  41. Tina (and I rarely compliment her, so mark your calendars, people...)

    makes a good point.

    Tina-the-first that is.

    She mentioned future writing goals, ventures anew.

    So, Caroline, would you suggest hiring a free-lance editor to help an already published author smooth his or her way to new avenues, new genres?

    Would you take a stab at that kind of work, sweet thaaaang???

  42. I love editing. I don't necessarily like editing my own stuff, but I have this uncanny knack for picking out mistakes. For instance, if a character's name is misspelled 70 pages after the last mentioning, I will not only notice, but it will drive me crazy.


  43. Julie: You bring up a very important question. My opinion is this: First, it has to be a personal decision based on what YOU need. Again, as I have stated before, I feel very strongly that for fiction writers, especially women's fiction writers who may have guidelines etc, to follow, hiring someone with no knowledge base of genres, market, etc, is a waste of money. Yes, English teachers, academics, people who have worked in publishing, are probably all very good. But can they deliver what you need for your book? There are a lot of us "formers" out there; I've looked. Some are even familiar to me. Your due dilligence process is key; do they have New York publishing credentials? Do they understand how it all works? Are they available to you? You should speak to them on the phone; are you a good match? Did you LIKE them? This may seem not to matter but I think it should. You don't have to be friends but if just talking to this person makes your teeth hurt, then why bother? And yes, you make a legitimate point about their connections. It is a reasonable assumption that if the editor thinks your product is worth moving to the next level, that you can inquire as to whether or not they can help you. This is a rather mercenary approach, but an honest one. You should ask lots of questions; listen to gossip (!!) about editors and wade through a list of candidates that you think would work for you; within your budget, your time frame, etc.

  44. Hello, All~

    I'm new to Seekerville, I read about it in my sister's copy of "Simply Books" the Reader Service Magazine, and it appealed to me as an aspiring writer. Boy was I right to stop by! I love the post by Caroline. I have just barely tested the waters of writing (with the very tips of my toes), but the things she said made a lot of sense.

    I have done some reading for a friend who has actually waded in and is querying her first MS. She called me a "beta reader." I don't really know what that means. Any who...I really enjoyed reading her work and helping her improve it, which she told me I did (help, that is).

    The bagels and fruit are wonderful. My real-world breakfast was chocolate Frosted Mini-Wheats, which are a wonderful invention, but they just don't compare to the sophisication of a bagel with cream cheese and pinapple. So thanks for the treat.

    I was really excited to hear about a give away on my first day! I think I know what I would use it on if I won.

    I'll definitely be back!

  45. Can I just say that the only problem with cyber-food is that it leaves a hollow spot. See, now I actually want a bagel with cream cheese and a slice of fresh pineapple, and I don't have any of those things actually in my house.


  46. Welcome, Caroline! We're so glad you're here with us today! Great info.

    I'm loving the NY breakfast! :)

  47. I couldn't imagine editing anything. It must very challanging.

  48. thanks for this inside look at professional editing :)

    ericavetsch at gmail dot com

  49. Hi Ruth: yes of course. a good all-around freelancer should be able to help with those challenges. Changing genres sometimes makes a writer feel they have to change their natural voice. While this can and does happen, it doesn't have to be a scary thing. New ventures are also very rewarding and good-nervous!

  50. Welcome to Seekerville, Caroline! Your job sounds fascinating and I totally respect that you aren't into hand holding. Honesty is the only way to learn and move down that path toward success. Writers might as well get used to it. Editors don't gloss of issues they have with our books. Thanks for the great post!

    Thanks for the NY Times and deli breakfast, Tina. Any pickles? :-)


  51. Caroline, what you do is so interesting.

    To really see the big picture, and the smaller details. It's a gift.

    Thanks so much for being on Seekerville today.

    Here's my question...when Tina hired you, if you saw something she did wrong...were you really brave enough to tell her???

    Cuz Tina's kinda scary.

    And I only say that because I live hundreds and hundreds of miles from her.

  52. Great post, I liked what you said about how you do your editing. All writing and reading is a matter of opinion. It is getting the opinion that will propel the story forward without stiffling the voice and helping the writer grow. Sounds like you know what you are doing. :) Thanks for posting here today.


  53. Thanks for the post Caroline. Very informative.


  54. Thanks for joining us, Caroline! I love seeing experts show up in Seekerville!

    Your straightforward approach to editing is what folks need...maybe not want to accept. I know I find it hard to embrace critiques that hit my writing where it hurts. I've come to the conclusion that if I react that strongly to an observation it means I really should take a second look at what's been written and consider the changes/suggestions.

    Consider is the operative word here.

    I'll only consider the comments if they are constructive in nature and not of personal bias. To me, there's nothing worse than a critique that states from the get-go something like *you do know nobody is buying westerns...*

    I appreciate your no nonsense style, Caroline. Objective opinions from people who KNOW what they're talking about are priceless!!

    Mmmm, deli you say, Tina? Friday mornings are made for lox, bagels and tons of cream cheese!!

  55. Great post! Thanks for giving us an inside look at what a freelance editor does. :)


  56. I have a new found respect for editing. So much work goes into having a book published and it's amazing.

  57. @ Susanna- The doggie in the pic is actually a Collie named Coco she just looks like a Sheltie because she was only a few months old when that pic was taken. Now she is 85 pounds (too many Seekerville cupcakes I guess) but my other furry baby Sebastian who is not in the picture is a Sheltie mix! You're right they are sweet critters!

    XOXO~ Renee

  58. Andrea, welcome to Seekerville, first-timer!!!!

    Great to have you here!

  59. Mary, try not to scare Andrea today, 'kay?

    She's new, dear.

  60. Caroline, I think honesty is the best policy. Why would an author want to pay for anything other than the truth. And it's so nice to know that you are willing to tell the truth.

    I hadn't actually realized there was such a thing as free-lance editors until I met one at an AFCW meeting. I was intrigued by her chosen career path. She, like you has good credentials, which leads me to my question. What kinds of things should we look for in a free-lance editors?

    reneelynnscott [at]gmail [dot] com

  61. Simply fascinating, Caroline, and thanks so much for telling us all about your work!

    I seriously considered looking for a freelance editor before my first book sold. I think a writer can get to the point where contests and critique groups just don't cut it anymore--at least not for the kind of in-depth help only an editor can give.

    I'm blessed now to have an agent with a marvelous eye for the "big picture," and her advice has proven invaluable! For the "small stuff" I keep my CMS and Webster's right next to my computer!

  62. First. Yes we have pickles, Janet. Ruth just keeps moving the dish to her side of the room.

    Second. I am only scary when you get to know me. I am very quiet and reserved until I warm up.

    Caroline reviewed a Single Title manuscript for me called the Rosetti Curse. I actually never had time to go back to her for the second round of edits, because I had just incorporated her thoughts and comments into the msc when it ended up with auhtor Sharon Sala, who many of you know (aka Dina McCall. She passed it up to her agent. Now my agent. The story has not sold but wow, one edit and things in my writing career began to move from the plateau.

  63. Hi Caroline:

    An editor once said, “You don’t have to eat the whole egg to know it’s rotten.”

    (1) Do you ever get manuscripts that are so bad that you give up and send them back?

    (2) Have you advised a writer rewrite the story to another genre or subgenre? (Or change it to a screenplay).

    (3) Do you get into story? For example, would you suggest that the plot be changed so that the mother dies (instead of being saved by the operation), the brother goes to prison (instead of being found not guilty), and the hero changes his religion (instead of demanding the heroine change hers).

    (4) Irving Stone’s wife is said to have edited all his books with a scissors. She would sometimes cut out over 50% of his manuscripts. Is it common to suggest cutting large amounts out of a manuscript?

    (5) Do you ever tell a writer to change the POV to or from First Person? (This is a huge change.)

    (6) Is there an ideal time to use your services? Should the writer try a few contests first? (It is almost like cleaning your house before the maid comes so she won’t think your too messy.)

    (7) Do you do humor/satire? This is what I write and I’d like an editor who ‘gets’ comedy.

    I know there are a lot of questions here but I think most are 'yes' or 'no'. :) Thanks.


  64. Caroline,

    It's great to learn that freelance editors exist! I may be coming up to that step next.

    Do you accept a manuscript in electronic format or do you require a printed copy?

    Also, do you have a waiting list or is someone able to hire you fairly quickly? Do you charge a standard fee or does it go by number of pages?

    Thanks for sharing your work with us. Fascinating to be sure! If I think of anything else, I'll chime in later.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  65. I'd love to hear more about your editing related to, "Is a puzzle hard to solve?" That sounds fascinating.

  66. Most of the publishing industry is a mystery to me, so this was my first time hearing about freelance editing and everything that's involved. Thanks so much for sharing about your work with us, Caroline!

    I'd love to be entered into the Amazon gift certificate draw. Thanks!


  67. Thank you for the information about your editing abilities Caroline. It just confirms how much I love editing!

  68. Andrea, I know JUST HOW YOU FEEL!

    Ruthy or Tina or someone puts up amazing sounding food and I'm sitting at my computer looking forward to my peanut butter sandwich and apple, my default lunch EVERY DAY.

    And I'm STARVING.

    Seekerville needs to go on a diet.

    Cyber Celery sticks for everybody!!!!!

  69. Hi Mary: lol, yes! I was very up front with Tina from the get go. She is a talented writer and a very good teacher for beginner techno losers.

    Tina: ask me again the question about the POV thing?

    Renee: regarding what to look for in a freelance editor; see my earlier post in response to Julie. I hope I answered all of your questions there, but if not, let me know.

    Jillian: that comment was related to suspense/mystery manuscripts. So much is about the it is set up; what clues are given; what red herrings; is it smart? Is too complicated; does the reader need to take notes? :)

    Susan: i only accept hard copy as I LOVE to write comments as I go along. There is sometimes a waiting list before RWA Nationals as there tends to be the OMG moment for lots of folks that they need to get their butts in gear.
    I charge a per page fee.

    Hi Vince: lots of questions! lol. No, to #1. I just sit down in the chair and power through. These are the toughest clients because I am not a creative writing teacher. I do hope that manuscripts have a command of the English language and basic sentence structure, but hey, sometimes you get what you get! #2,yes, i had a male client that I advised to change to a paranormal because he had an element that just wasn't believable for general men's fiction. I do not work with screenplays or non fiction. STrictly commercial fiction. #3, of course I made sweeping changes; that is what I call broad canvas. THat is what I do best! :) #4, I would say that cutting 50% of a ms is not the norm. seems to me it then becomes creating a new work. #5, yes I have made the suggestion to change to first person. More than once. It is a HUGE change that often makes or breaks the book. #6, see my earlier answers to Renee from this morning. There is no "ideal" time to hire a freelancer. It is a personal decision. You will know when you hit that point I imagine. Either your frustration level will drive you insane and/or you are ready to seek a different kind of help. #7, I certainly work on commercial fiction that can be called "comic". LOts of romantic comedy out there; very popular.

    Seems to me that the publishing business has moved away a lot from the old fashioned editor/author relationship. Has to do with changing times and changing business models. Agents too do biz differently a lot of the time. Freelancers are another tool for writers, another resource to tap.

    I am enjoying all of your comments and learning about things like "cyber-food". Hm.

  70. Finally got around to reading the post. Been a busy day. Thanks for the ideas.

    Jodie Wolfe

  71. @Andrea -

    I've been/had beta readers. In my experience, they're similar to what's called critique partners around here. YMMV of course :). For my MS, my beta readers for some fluffy/fun stuff read it but they... couldn't do what I need to polish it for querying etc. They've been fabulous for overall plotting etc, but I'm working with a couple of critique partners through ACFW now.

    In other words, it depends ;). Sometimes a beta/CP will do lots of plotting, some will do more line edits while some are grammar/spelling/punctuation and some are D. All of the above.

    I think that made sense... ;)


  72. What an interesting post! My dad is an editor and when I wrote my first manuscript, he offered to edit it. While it is awesome to have an editor work on your book for free, I was too new on the writing journey to handle it. He is good at what he does and gentle in giving criticism, but all the red marks were very discouraging. It was too soon. I needed to get a critique group, write some, get feedback, and then write some more before I had a professional look at my work. We shall see how long I wait before letting him take a look at my work! ;)

  73. No one is a techno loser in Seekerville. We each have our own "special" gifts. Like Mary who kills secondary characters or Ruthy who cooks for us or Helen who brews coffee or Vince who is a poet or Walt who keeps us informed on what's going on with HIS favorite sports teams.

    We're a full service community.

  74. LOL! Yes, Caroline, thank you! I must have missed those posts. My mother asked me last week if I had to many cooks stirring the pot. I had to laugh.

    Thank you for all the great information.

  75. Thanks for your viewpoint Caroline.

    Besides Tina, has any other Seeker used Caroline's services?

    Can you please send me a quote on how much it actually costs to have you edit a ms? 75000words


    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  76. Aw, Tina.

    "Special Gifts..."

    Pretty Woman....

    Richard Gere....

    Julia Roberts saying softly, "I think you have a lot of special gifts..."

    Oh, boo hoo, she LEAVES....

    And he thinks and thinks and THINKS, kind of like the GRINCH and it takes him so long, right up until Hector Elizondo (LOVE HIM!!!!) puts the necklace aside and reminds Edward/Richard that Darryl-the-limo-driver TOOK HER HOME!!!!!


    I need coffee.

    I'm possibly going into detox soon.

  77. Spew Alert!

    Did someone write that ‘Tina was scary’? Do you know what’s really scary? No Tina! No creative weekend updates! No great Tina graphics! No Diva-tested contest insights!

    Just 39 Days to “The Rancher’s Reunion” ‘early bird’ release at eHarlequin.

    End Alert.

    Ruth: cyber food is not that simple. Just because I know when someone is speaking German does not mean I can understand German.

    Cyber food is the moral equivalent of teasing.

    The food is virtual but the hunger is real.

    The spirit is willing but the éclairs, ephemeral.

    And then:

    The most unkindest cut of all:
    the top tier of a virtual wedding cake.

    Oh, the icing.

    If thinking could make it so,
    the poor really would
    have had cake to eat!

    And poor Marie
    and her head
    would not be free.

    But man does not live
    by bread alone:
    It’s the thought that counts.

    So bring on your cyber food
    and we will meet
    as Will-o'-the-wisps –
    just dreams
    vivid enough
    to be seen
    fading away.

  78. Vince, you've just given us a glimpse into the dark, future if we didn't have beloved Tina at our side.

    Wasn't the end of the Matrix kinda like this?

    I only saw the first one.

  79. You do know, Ruthy that there are almost ZERO hookers with a heart of gold...mostly meth addicts.

  80. Caroline,
    Thank you for sharing with us today. It's good to have you in Seekerville.

  81. Caroline,
    What a joy to have you in Seekerville today. You attended a number of Georgia Romance Writers' Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Atlanta and were always so gracious. I pitched and you requested on more than one occasion. Yes, you rejected me...and thank goodness. The manuscripts needed work. But you wrote detailed rejection letters about how I could improve my stories. I still have and still treasure those letters. Thanks for your encouragement years ago. So glad you're continuing to work with authors. We need your expertise.

  82. Hi Debby! I LOVED moonlight and magnolias! such fun! remember when the Marines were there at the same time? be still my heart!
    so glad you are still involved with writing. good for you. nice to hear from you and say hello to all those gals for me!!

  83. Eva, go ahead and send an email to the Seeker mailbox with some information on your project and we will forward it to Caroline. We asked her not to post her email address on the blog to prevent spam attacks.

    I know several authors who have worked with Caroline outside her Pocket authors, but when you chat with Caroline she can share those with you. Some authors don't want it public that used an editor.


    I first found her by word of mouth actually. The RWA PAN loop. Someone was asking for reccomendations for editors and her name came up and I emailed her and told her about my project and received quotes.

  84. Vince!!

    The check is in the mail good buddy.

  85. Anyone else that is interested in chatting privately with Caroline, please send your info to the Seeker mail box per the little note at the bottom of the post.

  86. Caroline, what sort of basic info do you want an author to send you about their project?

    Genre and word count?

    Do you edit partial manuscripts?

    Do you edit synopsis and query letters too? I am thinking yes but I haven't had a carb in a while.

  87. Tina: yes, I edit letters, queries and partials as well as full.

    I need a page count for inquiries and preferred time frame.

  88. I like the way you talked about your process, Caroline. Big picture with pen in hand, simply reacting to what you read, then again in more detail after revisions. I wondered whether editors read as readers or as editors. Seems you do both. Look forward to seeing your new website.

  89. Thanks Tina,
    I may do it later, but I was just looking for a ball park figure.

    I looked up Irene Goodman's online Ebay auction, where she offers writers her editorial expertise once a month, and the opening bid is $600.

  90. Caroline, I know it is SUPPAH time in NY so I wanted to tell you thank you for being in Seekerville today and for graciously answering all our questions.

  91. Thanks so much Tina for arranging my visit. So nice to read all of your comments. Keep writing; keep seeking. I'm around if you need me...signing off from New York...Caroline

  92. wow what's going on here? I came back to see if there were any more chicken salad sandwiches and Mary's trying to put us all on a diet?! celery sticks?! you kidding me right?! well if you have any left would you mind chopping up half a cup for me..need some for a chicken salad recipe...

    man I don't know aobut that movie Pretty Woman(and Mary how many hookers do you know girl?!;-) they might have hearts of gold LOL!) I'd have taken the money and banked it! (guess I"m not very romantic) but hey a deal's a deal in my book! but he was in a no win situation..if he paid her she was insulted..if he hadn't paid her then she'd be throwing it up in his face 10 yrs later that he didn't hold up to his end of the bargain! but he deserved it for paying for sex in the first place! At 43 I'm too cynical I guess.better off sticking with Disney!

    @ Renee - I always seem to get shelties and collies mixed up :-( my cousin actually got a sheltie when her hubby was at A&M and Reveille is a collie I think so go figure! A woman in a quilt group I was ina few years ago raises collies and shows/breeds them..she had a smooth coated I think she called him..looked kinda like my german shepherd but a really long nose!she has some 'regular' collies too and was saying how she drove one across country to breed her and was mad it didnt take - boy that's al ong trip just to find a male dog but she's particular! I love big dogs..not too good for a townhome but my girls and Ihave done ok I guess thanks to the dog parks though now the lab won't get in the car...her legs bother her too much I guess but she'd better decide to cooperate since I take them with me over the Christmas holidays and that's a 4 hour trip each way!


  93. Hi Caroline:

    Thanks for answering all my questions. I will check your website for more about your services. I should have something ready in three to six months.


  94. Fascinating! And it's good to know that a bad idea can spark a better idea:)

    Mary M

  95. I'm thrilled to read Caroline's take on editing. My kind of gal.

    I love finding the perfect verb, simile, mood, but the big picture sometimes eludes me. I've been studying plotting like crazy, hoping to get a better grip on it.

    I can see how someone like Caroline could rescue one of my books that didn't sell.

  96. Would love to be entered for the Amazon card! Thanks!!

  97. I have always wanted to ask an editor what type of training do you need to be an editor?

    Cindy W.


  98. Actually, editing others work is something I usually enjoy. However, when it comes to editing my own, I find I often miss things because I see what I expect to see. That's why my crit partner's eyes are essential. Although it is embarassing to have her zing me on something that I called her on previously, she often will catch what I miss.


  99. Oh, Dianna, we've all been there on that one, girlfriend.

    Caroline, thanks so much for playing in the sands of Seekerville today. Great info. Good food.

    Vince, your poet's heart is food for my soul, my friend.

    Real food.

    No virtuality allowed. :)

  100. Caroline, great to have you here!

    And Seekerville, a la Ruthy, INVENTED cyber-food!

  101. I have been to this post three times today and each time I got distracted. Sort of like my writing life. No focus.

    It was definitely intersting though. Glad I finally got to finish it.


  102. Awesome post. I really enjoyed reading it.


  103. Caroline,
    I like your straight forward approach. I'd much rather hear the simple truth than a sugar-coated statement.

    Thanks for sharing!

  104. Caroline,

    What an interesting article. You obviously love your job and you get to help people also. What a combination!

    Thanks for dropping by.


  105. Thanks for a great post. I am more informed about what an edtor does. Thanks again.
    Linda Cacaci

  106. Sorry I didn't get by yesterday : / Crazy day filled with a test, class, lots of driving through SNOW, and just craziness at home, LOL! So I'm here now at least *grin*

    I love the part where you talked about the two different hats. You have your reader and your editor hat. I know what you mean, kind of. I mean I have my analysis hat, where I'm really tuned into motives, symbols, foreshadowing...those types of things. I usually use this for school reading (I'm a college freshman). So our analytic hat has been shaped by our previous teachers so we're good at it. Then I have my pleasure reading hat, LOL! I use this when I'm reading for myself. I'm tuned into plot lines, for example, but I don't have to be quite so much on the ball as the other one.

    Thanks for visiting us, once again I'm SOO sorry I didn't get here, Tina

    : (

    Also thanks for the chance at the gift card!! Can never have enough Amazon money!

  107. WHOOPS!! I typed Tina instead of Caroline


    SO sorry about that!!

    But thank you for inviting Caroline, Tina *grin*


  108. @ Susanna- I love both kinds of collies, the smooth and the rough! Like you, I do think the smooth collies do look like German Shepards with long noses! Sorry to hear about your Lab! I'm afraid my dog will be the same way when she gets older since she is so big.

    XOXO~ Renee