When two passionate hearts meet, wonderful things can happen.
That’s what happened when I met Kira. We both had a passion for writing and well…superheroes but that’s another story for another day. A couple of years ago, I lost my way with my writing. With the soon to be released revision of It Pours and blurb for After the Storm tucked nicely at the end of that revision, I wanted to take a minute to introduce one of the women who helped me find my way again. So, I asked her to write a little blog about herself and why she would spend the late hours of her day helping a little southern writer like me. I hope you enjoy her introduction and the stories she helps me put into your hands. Thank you Kira
My first editing experience was volunteer editing for Literotica.com. I was 20 years old. If you’ve never visited the site, I suggest it. Many stories are…graphic, to say the least, but if you enjoy erotica in any genre, you can find something to your liking. At that time in my life, I had just decided that I wanted my life-long career to be editing, but no one wanted to hire a woman without any ACTUAL editing experience. Even when I graduated with a bachelors degree that focused on publishing, I had no offers, no opportunities. Can you imagine approaching anyone with the knowledge that your only editing experience was for an erotic romance site? I did once; the look on the poor man’s face was something I’ll never forget.
For a couple of years after college, I went back to my roots of working fast food to pay my bills. I was, unfortunately, very good at working in a kitchen, coming home every night smelling like some kind of awful. I continued to edit for random strangers on the erotica site though, gaining quite a following of authors because of my attention to detail and my consistent, positive feedback. It was this experience that really cemented not just my love for editing, but my love for authors.
Most of these authors I worked with were “regular” people: husband/wife, kids, 9–5 job, etc. They just happened to write erotica in their spare time. They had no aspirations of making a career out of it; this was years before 50 Shades of Greyreared its ugly head and turned the publishing world upside-down. But more than the edits, more than the feedback on their stories, I got the sense that many of my author friends just wanted someone to talk to about their writing. It’s not every day that you get to talk “shop” with someone when your “shop” happens to be transexual BDSM. I learned to be objective, approaching each story with a blank slate frame of mind and putting in 100% effort. It didn’t pay, but it didn’t matter to me. I was helping, and that was good enough for me.
I finally got a breakthrough when I was invited to move to Chicago, IL, and stay with friends for cheap while I got on my feet. On a trip to Half Price Books (a place I’d never heard of, let alone been in), I fell in love with the place and applied to work there on a whim. I got the job a week later. I spent the next two years learning all about the other side of publishing: the selling. I shelved books, bought books from sellers, created marketing displays, and read everything I possibly could. If you had the chance to read everything you’ve always wanted to read, wouldn’t you do it too? I still edited for Literotica.com regularly at that point. It was always comforting to come home and edit a few chapters for a grateful author.
After two years at Half Price, an opportunity to work as a proofreader for an accounting firm popped up and I jumped at it. I, somehow, impressed them enough to give me a shot, despite not having any real-life experience. That job was difficult. Numbers people and word people don’t mesh well, as you can imagine. I received a lot of pushback at times, but I took it all in stride, just happy to have a job doing what I loved to do. It was at this accounting firm that I also found the first publisher that wanted to hire me on as a freelance proofreader. I read a book by Jake Bible about a giant killer shark (my favorite horror subgenre) and loved it, but I noticed there were typos, punctuation errors, and formatting mistakes. I reached out to him via his website and he directed me to his publisher, Severed Press. Not knowing what to say, I resorted to the crazy, passionate version of myself and wrote a long email that probably didn’t make much sense. Something I said worked though, and they offered me money to proofread their stories. I couldn’t believe my luck!
The way I approached Severed Press is how I approached other publishers, hoping to continue with the good luck. At one point, I had stories coming in from three publishers at once. It was chaotic, but it was fun and it was worth it. It was at that point that I finally stopped volunteer editing for the erotica site. I loved what I did, but I had to prioritize my editing for people that were paying me to do it. I had it made; I didn’t need the good karma as payment anymore.
Three years after starting at the accounting firm, I finally found my dream job: editorial and production assistant. It is higher level, better pay, and greater responsibility. To this day, it still tests all my skills and I’m learning something new every day. It’s the kind of job that every future editor wants because of the wealth of experience gained. I’m thankful every day to have such a great job that will undoubtedly point me in the right direction for future job options.
But, unfortunately, the side stories stopped coming in as much. I never completely understood why, but I accepted it as inevitable. Where I used to get 10–12 stories a month to edit, I started to only receive maybe 1–2. Money wasn’t an issue…but I was bored. Doing 9–5 work was fine, but I never considered my freelance work to be “work.” I mean, I got a chance to edit a book and read it first before anyone else. It was my dream come true, and I didn’t want to lose it. It kept me sane on my worst days and made my best days even better.
With a lack of paid freelance work, I started to re-evaluate my situation. I didn’t need the money but I missed the joy of editing fiction. Maybe that good karma editing that I so readily dismissed was something I need in my life after all. So, rather than advertising myself as a freelance editor looking for paid work, I took a different approach: I personally started reaching out to self-published authors and asking if I could edit their books for free. Like reaching out to publishers to ask for work, this approach missed the mark 98% of the time. I rarely received responses, even though I advertised myself as a free editor. Some authors already had a team of editors; some probably thought I was nuts. How do you explain my kind of passion?
I feel like authors and I share a kindred spirit. A goal for an author is to write something amazing and perfect that other people can enjoy. Similarly, my goal is to help mold that creative work into that amazing and perfect idea of what a book should be. I’m a self-described worker bee, helping the other bees make the best honey ever. I don’t care much for attention or limelight because I value self-satisfaction more than anything else. And the one thing that gives me the most pride is knowing that I did my best to make a book the best book it can be. If that’s just fixing typos and grammar, so be it. If it’s a detailed process from beginning to end—editing, copy-editing, proofreading, formatting, conversing, discussing, questioning—then I’m all about that too. If you need me for a little or a lot, I’ll take it all and be happy every day of the project to just be a part of the process.
What I’ve finally realized about myself and my career is that as long as I love what I do and I make a difference, no matter how big or small, it’s all worth it. Authors are always blown away when I offer to edit for free. Who would do something like that? Am I crazy? Iwould do something like that, and yes, I am probably crazy, but in the best way possible. I have the means to offer my editing skills to those who need them for free so I’m going to do it. It makes too much sense not to.
And, oddly enough, everything comes back to 20-year-old me, editing for people on Literotica.com. Those everyday people trusted me enough to share their stories and accept edits, good and bad. They put themselves out there, writing stories they weren’t sure anyone was going to like but hoping and praying they would…that somebody would read their story and love it enough to leave a comment, encouraging them to keep writing. Similarly, every step of my editing career has been about taking chances, putting myself out there, and doing what I love, even if no one else cares but me. At the end of the day, the pride I have in myself is worth more than anything money can buy.
So, if you need an editor, a commenter, good feedback, or just a sympathetic ear, I’m available. It’s why I’m here, and I’m happy to be here.
Personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org