Brian Paone and I met through a Facebook writer’s group. He’s a published author and editor.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Salem, MA and was a police officer for 16 years (2002 – 2018). I am married to a US Naval Commander, and we have 4 kids (ages 11, 9, 4, and 2) and are currently stationed in Monterey, CA. I have 4 published novels—Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts, Welcome to Parkview, Yours Truly 2095, and Moonlight City Drive—with part 2 and part 3 of Moonlight City Drive to be released in 2019 & 2021. I also have a handful of other ideas for novels on the docket, so I plan on releasing a new book every year for at least the next decade. I have been editing since 2014 and have owned Scout Media since 2013—an indie publishing company.
What is your background for editing?
I have a college certificate (I majored in criminal justice, so I pursued this as my minor). I shadowed an editor for a major publishing company for 2 years before I started accepting my own clients.
What are the most frequent errors you find?
Punctuation within dialogue, incorrect comma placement, not knowing what’s a proper noun or should be lowercase, staying in tense, sentence fragments, and using too many verb/preposition combos when the prepositions acts as an adverb and not replacing them with action verbs.
What’s the number one thing you hate to see in a manuscript?
No paragraph breaks. I have received stories that were just one, long, 5k word paragraph … with dialogue! Whenever I open a new client’s document and see extensive blocks of paragraphs, I usually facepalm and replace my coffee with vodka. (kidding … it’s rum)
What is something which has totally taken you by surprise when you’re editing?
This might be a different angle on your question, but I’m always surprised when I receive tips. One Christmas, a client was so happy with my work that he sent me a Taco Bell gift certificate, and another female client thought I had gone above and beyond what my rate is that she just paypaled me out of the blue extra money because she felt she was stealing from me. Ha!
What resource materials do you recommend?
CMS17, Mariam-Webster Dictionary 2018, and Thesaurus.com
If you’re also an author, do you do your own editing?
God, no. I think that’s the number one mistake authors who moonlight at editors (or the other way around) make. You can’t see the trees for the forest in your own work. When my first draft is done, I will do a second draft where I go through it as if my manuscript was a client’s novel. But then it goes to my editor for the final draft. Editors who write should never be in charge of the final draft’s editing.
What can authors do to better prepare their manuscripts for an editor?
Basic spell check. Seriously. The mistakes I find that a basic spell check in Word would’ve caught is mind boggling. Also, make sure there is a new paragraph for each time a new character speaks. I have received manuscripts where it has taken me extra hours to just decipher who is speaking throughout the novel.
What format do you prefer?
I write my own books in Scrivener, but I edit clients’ manuscripts in Word with Track Changes turned on.
Do you look for a particular genre?
Nope. I feel grammar, punctuation, tense etc should be the same across all genres.
Do you attempt to develop a writer?
There are certainly some authors that I prefer to work with over others, and those are the ones who grow exponentially as authors with each new manuscript
What advice do you have for authors?
Read a lot. Also, don’t send an editor your first draft. At a minimum, it should be your second draft.
Brian can be reached through these links: