Morgan Worth, Editor, Beta Reader, Proofreader

Morgan and I bumped into each other on social media. Since she offers services for beta reading and proofreading I thought it would be wonderful to have a description of what these two things are and how they work if you hire someone.

Tell us a little about yourself

I get paid to read books! I am a freelance beta reader, proofreader, and editor.

What is your background for being a beta reader and proofreader?

I have a B.A. in English, and I minored in Printing and Publishing Arts. That minor heavily emphasized editing techniques. Just as importantly, I’ve been a devourer of books for as long as I can remember! I love words and stories and I’m fascinated with how they work. I have also been teaching for eighteen years, so I’ve read and curated books for kids and teens of all ages and I have lots of experience evaluating writing and giving constructive criticism.

Please explain what a beta reader does?  

A beta reader reads a manuscript before it’s published, and usually before it goes through any editing. Beta readers provide feedback from a reader’s perspective. Many authors exchange manuscripts with other authors or try to recruit readers to give them feedback. Sometimes this works out great, but often other writers are busy and have a hard time getting to critiquing someone else’s book right away. Readers are often busy, too, and they tend to have a hard time giving the kind of detailed, honest feedback that a writer can use to make her book better.

As a beta reader, I read unpublished manuscripts just as a reader would, but as I go, I make notes of my thoughts. What do I think is going to happen next? What made me laugh out loud? What grossed me out or confused me? Then, I look at the book as a professional, with a critical eye. I consider the intended audience and genre expectations, and I give constructive feedback on the book as a whole.

And a proofreader 

Proofreaders find errors after the copyediting process. Sometimes when the author makes changes called for by the copyeditor, she accidentally introduces mistakes such as duplicate words or misspellings. Suggesting changes to sentence structure, pointing out passages that lack clarity, addressing widespread punctuation and grammar issues, etc. are beyond the scope of proofreading. This is copyediting, a much more time-consuming task.

Do you have genres you prefer?  Or ones you won’t work in?

I’m always thrilled when I get my hands on a cozy mystery! I read a wide range of genres, and fantasy is another one of my favorites. I also enjoy sweet romance and historical romance. Those who write for kids and teens will be happy to know that I have experience with the unique characteristics of kidlit and YA and am also currently working with kids on a regular basis.

I’m not the right reader for erotica, erotic romance, steamy romance, or horror. I’ve just never gravitated toward them and I wouldn’t be able to give good feedback.

What’s the number one thing you hate to see in a manuscript?

Preaching! I’ve spent many hours with manuscripts that were all message and no plot. The author had something to say, and she was so focused on saying it that she forgot to tell a story. No matter what your philosophy is, the best way to convey it is through a great story. The story must come first!

What is something which has totally taken you by surprise when reading?

I’ve been surprised by many fun plot twists, but I won’t give those away here. I’ve also had a few experiences with books that suddenly changed in tone halfway through. That’s a much less pleasant surprise!

What can authors do to better prepare their manuscripts for a beta or proofreader?

Study your craft. Sure, you’re hiring a professional, but how will you know whether she did a good job if you don’t know how to use an apostrophe with a plural possessive or if you’re not a reader yourself?

When hiring a beta reader, it’s okay to leave spelling and punctuation errors unchecked, but the manuscript should be clean enough that a reader can make sense of it. If you’re hiring a proofreader, remember that her job is to catch mistakes that remain after copyediting has already taken place. In general, the better shape your manuscript is in, the more the pros can help you put a finer polish on it.

What format do you prefer?

I prefer using track changes in Microsoft Word, but I can work with PDF as well.

What advice do you have for authors?

Read! Read widely, and read in your genre. I believe that most writers absorb some of the elements that make up a strong plot and compelling characters as well as genre expectations if they read a lot. Your experience as a reader is what gives you that gut feeling that something is off with a certain part of your story. Sure, it often takes someone else (such as a beta reader) to reaffirm those suspicions, but the more your writerly senses are honed, the better your manuscript will be to begin with, and the better able you’ll be to consider that feedback and decide whether or not it’s on point.

Links to find Morgan Worth

Please visit my website for more details on my rates and how to hire me!

I also have a Facebook page:

Joseph Wozniak

Joseph Wozniak and I connected on Facebook to talk about books and editing.  We reconnected recently to discuss more writing things. 

Tell us a little about yourself.  I grew up in Va Beach, VA. Went to college in Kentucky. I have a Business degree and my minor was English. My wife and I live in Denver, CO and are expecting our first child in 3 months. I am also a published author of two books, both available on Amazon.

What is your background for editing? My wife and I own J.W. Editing and Marketing Services. We have owned the company since October 2017. We have worked with a number of authors in many different genres. A couple books have even won awards. We love helping people realize their dreams. It is our passion and we take it very seriously.

What are the most frequent errors you find? I’d say when writing dialogue, punctuation is always a sticking point for a lot of writers.

What’s the number one thing you hate to see in a manuscript? Switching from 1st person to 3rd person, and vice-versa

What is something which has totally taken you by surprise when you’re editing?  That people write how they speak. That would be a negative. A positive would be how many good writers we encounter that have no idea how talented they are.

What resource materials do you recommend? Honestly, we don’t. We allow people to write how they write. Its our job to fix the mistakes. I do think a good Thesaurus helps.

If you’re also an author, do you do your own editing? My wife and I edit each others’ books.

What can authors do to better prepare their manuscripts for an editor?  Honestly, I think that has more to do with after they see the edits and comments. I’d say for more authors to be open to criticism. A lot of people think their work is perfect. That’s a huge problem.

What format do you prefer?  Not sure about this question but I think you mean what program, so I’d say Word. Just a lot easier for us to use.

Do you look for a particular genre?  Absolutely not. We read everything. We both have our likes and dislikes, but we love all genres.

Do you attempt to develop a writer?  Absolutely. That is our job. Our job doesn’t start and end just with a manuscript. We want to help people become better authors. And, we offer developmental edits and even author coaching.

What advice do you have for authors?  Write! Write what you love. But, when you read, don’t just read in the genre you write. Don’t do that! Read everything. Doing otherwise will make you stale.

Tanya Oemig

Tanya Oemig and I met at the reader event earlier this month.  She came up to my table and started chatting.  Very quickly we realized we lived near each other.  It was a nice opener to have a lovely discussion about writing and the local area.

Tell us a little about yourself.  I took one of those online quizzes recently that indicated that I exhibit left

vs. right brain traits in equal measures. This wasn’t a surprise since my favorite classes in school were creative writing and science. I studied microbiology and epidemiology and have had a health-related career for thirty years. My evening activities have always included reading and writing. After trying my hand developing my own works of fiction, I realized I am much better at providing input on another person’s writing than I am at completing my own stories. With the growing popularity of self-publishing and small presses, I seized the opportunity to be actively involved in bringing the best stories to the market.

What is your background for editing?  I have decades of professional experience writing and editing in the technical world, coupled with a lifetime of avid reading in all genres. I learned fiction review and critique from writers and mentors like Kathleen Massey-Ferch and Lorrie Moore and honed those skills over several years with a science fiction/fantasy writers’ group. I launched my freelance editing career in 2018 and have so far seen four novels through to self-publication. I have provided developmental editing services for a small press as well.

What are the most frequent errors you find? Errors around formatting are the most frequent. The first things I look for when I start working on a manuscript are uses of spaces, indents, tabs, and carriage returns. I also look at punctuation around dialogue. Most word processing software (from Word to Google Docs) have formatting tools that double space without using the “Enter” key, indent the first line of a paragraph without using the “Tab” key, and center text. Only one space is required after colons and periods. Punctuation at the end of dialogue should be inside the quotation marks. Most of the time I make these corrections throughout the document before I even start reading. I make the changes silently—I don’t point out all of the instances I corrected to the author. I just summarize what I’ve done.

What’s the number one thing you hate to see in a manuscript?  Hate is a strong word! I am sad when I read a manuscript with a good story but very boring language. In some cases, this is a matter of the author telling vs. showing, but even when the author is showing characters in action, there are verbs that draw the reader into the scene better than others.

What is something which has totally taken you by surprise when you’re editing?  I’ve been blown away by the different spins authors have put on familiar storylines. There seems to be plenty of talent to create new vampire tales, present a new take on a forbidden romance, or cross into another dimension.

What resource materials do you recommend? My number one recommendation is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman. She has a series of very good books, but this one is the most important in guiding a writer to show rather than tell. It’s much better to describe the sensations a character feels and the expressions on display than just telling the reader what emotion the character is feeling.

A wealth of material is available on the web. Many editors write blog posts (which I repost on my Facebook page) on everything from how to use lay vs. lie to navigating the process of self-publishing. Google is your friend! Websites that I particularly like are Grammar Girl and the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

If you’re also an author, do you do your own editing?  I write a lot of technical content for my “day job” and ALWAYS have someone else review it after I think I’ve caught all the mistakes.

What can authors do to better prepare their manuscripts for an editor?  Ideally, a manuscript will have received input from critique partners, alpha and beta readers, and gone through a number of revisions before being sent to an editor.

What format do you prefer? I work only with completed manuscripts. I edit in Word with my changes tracked. I am willing to convert documents written with other applications, track my edits, and convert the document into a format the author can use. With this process, Word and Google Docs work best but I’m willing to give other formats a try.

Do you look for a particular genre?  I edit any genre of fiction, specializing in fantasy and romance, including erotica. Paranormal romance authors are my most frequent clients.

Do you attempt to develop a writer? My developmental editing process provides details of the writer’s strengths and weaknesses using examples taken from the text. When suggesting changes in any level of editing, I explain my rationale and provide references when necessary. I intend to be instructive as well as constructive to develop the writer’s skills. I’ve even provided tutorial instruction for using overlooked tools in Word and Google Docs to give the writer more power for their future work.

What advice do you have for authors? Keep reading, keep writing, and resist the urge to overuse commas.



Dennis Doty

Dennis Doty contacted me through a writers group.  He’s an editor who I thought would give a good perspective on editing.

Tell us a little about yourself.    After 10 years in the Marines, I spent two years in college and twenty-two years in retail management. I retired early for health reasons and found writing was my passion. I began writing seriously in 2004, had my first short story published in 2016. As I learned more about the craft, I found that I enjoyed mentoring and helping other writers to learn the craft and avoid the pitfalls. I now edit full-time and write in my spare time.

What is your background for editing?  English was always one of my favorite classes in high school and college along with languages including Spanish, Latin and Korean. I seem to have a knack for it. A couple years ago, I was giving regular beta feedback in a small writing group I help Admin. A fellow member who had been both an editor and a ghostwriter for twenty years, said I should try freelancing and assured me that I was already doing the job and not getting paid. So, I hung a shingle on my website and posted a couple of notices that I was accepting clients. A couple of months later, I had a story accepted by a major genre magazine. The publisher called and said he’d seen my website. He asked if I would be willing to do some editing for them. Apparently, they like my work. I’m now the managing editor of the magazine and the VP-Acquisitions for the publishing house.

What are the most frequent errors you find? Commas, of course. Especially commas separating conditional phrases or direct address. These errors seem common to new writers submitting their first manuscript and seasoned veterans with over a hundred titles traditionally published.

What’s the number one thing you hate to see in a manuscript? Easily researched factual errors and anachronisms. I edit a lot of historical fiction. It drives me a little bit nuts to see items or phrases which were not in use at the time. For example, Levi’s weren’t sold east of the Mississippi until the 1930s. Many writers don’t know that the dictionary provides the first date of usage for a lot of words. Nothing tasted “fruity” until 1657.

What is something which has totally taken you by surprise when you’re editing? That happens quite a lot. I do some editing in genres I don’t normally read, and the quality of the stories, the characters and the delightful plots often surprise and entertain me.

If you’re also an author, do you do your own editing? No. I’ll admit that I’ve sometimes settled for a couple of very good beta readers for a short story, but for anything over a couple thousand words I use Jeremy Menefee, the long-time editor who got me into all this.

What can authors do to better prepare their manuscripts for an editor? Use the tools provided by Word to check your spelling and grammar. It won’t catch everything, but if there’s a squiggly blue line under a word, figure out why. Put your manuscript in proper manuscript format with one-inch margins, left justified and double spaced. If you’re old like me, remove all those double spaces they taught us in typing class. Use either Courier New or Times New Roman 12 pt font.

What format do you prefer?  Standard Shunn format, either for stories or novels.

Do you look for a particular genre? No. I love to read and will work on anything except horror or erotica. I’ve even found some children’s that I enjoyed.

Do you attempt to develop a writer? Always. I think it’s the editor’s job to be a teacher. I try to leave clear and complete notes about why I’m suggesting a change or inserting a punctuation. If it is repetitive, I’ll mention it the first five or six times it occurs so that the writer knows it is something they need to work on. Also, all writers have their little quirks. When I identify one, I try to point it out so that they are more aware of it and can self-correct.

What advice do you have for authors? Writing is a career. Treat it like one. Reading anything, but especially books in the genre you write and on the craft is the professional development which would be required of you in another field. Don’t neglect it.

Write, then write some more. It takes roughly a half-million words to get proficient at this craft. Don’t procrastinate or you’ll never get there.

Vary your writing. The more genres you try, the better you’ll be at the one you really want to write. Before Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry wrote a half dozen episodes of Highway Patrol and over two dozen episodes of Have Gun Will Travel as well as many other shows.

At least give short fiction at try. Remember that half-million words I mentioned? The more hooks and denouments you can squeeze in there, the better writer you will be. If you only write novels, you get to practice those two very important parts of your story only six or seven times. If you write short fiction, you get to practice them around 150 times.

Don’t show your first draft to anyone. Always share your second or third draft with Alpha or Beta Readers and when it’s the best you can get it, hire a professional to really make it shine.

Please provide any links for your web site or social media you want posted. Dennis can be found at or He blogs about writing at

Brian Paone

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

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:

Barbara Ardinger

Barbara Ardinger and I met through a writers group which we were both involved with.  The group is long gone but I enjoyed Barbara’s directness and honesty so kept in touch.  When I decided to start these interviews, She came to mind first as an editor to interview.  She’s been editing for a long time and across a variety of genres. She’s my go to editing expert.

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri. I wrote my first story, which was a birthday present for my father, when I was in the second grade. After an encyclopedia salesmen came to our door, and my parents bought The Book of Knowledge, I read all 20 volumes. In high school I was the only member of the Creative Writing Club with a new piece every month.

After college, I taught high school English, speech, and French for three years, then went to graduate school. I earned my M.A. and my Ph.D. with majors in English and minors in psychology, speech/theater, and French and earned straight A’s. I moved to California after I finished my Ph.D. I’m the author of eight published books (two of them are novels with mostly female characters) and more book reviews and blogs than I can count.

I live with two cats: a Maine coon named Heisenberg and a Turkish van named Schroedinger. I’m a spiritual feminist and honor the Goddess. What do I love more than almost anything else? Musical theater—the whole continuum from La Bohème to Rent and nearly every Broadway musical in between, plus Gilbert and Sullivan. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a pun I didn’t love.

What is your background for editing? 

I’ve been a freelance editor since the turn of the century and have edited more than 300 books including novels in all genres, academic theses and dissertations, nonfiction on many topics, children’s books, even some poetry. While I was earning my M.A., a friend asked me to edit his Ph.D. dissertation.

I was lucky to have really, really strict teachers in my literature and writing classes, so I know what good and correct writing is. Today, I give little lessons in “gooder English” as I edit. I stole that phrase, “gooder English,” from the singer Charo while I was doing technical editing for aerospace proposals. I’d just pat the engineer on the knee and say, “This is gooder English.” The guys always accepted my corrections. Nowadays, I also have a collection of books on English grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage. I’ve read them all. When I’m editing and making changes, therefore, I know what I’m doing.

What are the most frequent errors you find? 

In addition to sometimes hilarious spelling errors (“wholly sh-t,” “a sand partical in a dessert”), I find innumerable errors of punctuation, syntax, and logical reasoning. When a Russian author recently began obsessing about commas and semicolons, I explained English punctuation to him. I have told a few authors that they’ve used up their entire lifetime supply of semicolons, i.e., they’re using too many and using them incorrectly.

Syntax is the order of the words in a sentence. Every language has its own idiomatic syntax: the way words go together is hard-wired in our brains. But sometimes I’ll run into sentences like these: “‘What is the matter?’ kept moaning with a cry Mary.” Or: “‘Senya is your brother,’ interrupted the story Sarah.”In idiomatic English, the subject comes first, then the verb, and adverbs usually precede their verbs. This author reversed the normal order. (And look—I’ve just given you one of my lessons.)

As much as faulty punctuation and syntax, I also see errors in reasoning and logic. I recently gave an author a lesson in paragraph construction because her reasoning wandered in too many directions. Your argument, or assertion, I explained, will make more sense if you open each paragraph with a topic sentence and then fill the paragraph with evidence (facts, figures, examples, etc.) to support that topic. I also find examples of faulty logic (abstract instead of concrete examples, unsupported generalizations, erroneous conclusions) and just plain incorrect facts. That’s why I do a lot of fact-checking as I edit—from the incorrect spellings of foreign words (I usually have to add the accent marks, too) to bad history and geography to incorrect references to persons, places, and events.

What’s the number one thing you hate to see in a manuscript?

Sloppiness. Sloppy thinking, sloppy spelling and punctuation, sloppy formatting. Neatness really does count.

What is something which has totally taken you by surprise when you’re editing?

After close to 20 years of editing, there’s not much that surprises me. Well, an error-free manuscript would be beautifully surprising. I’ve never seen one, though.

What resource materials do you recommend?

I always recommend The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Yes, it was originally written in 1919 when E.B. White was William Strunk’s student, but what this little book teaches is still true today. Probably truer because texting, tweeting, and posting on the social media have made so many people so careless with gooder English.

I also recommend three books by Karen Elizabeth Gordon (you can look her up).

I often suggest to people writing novels that they read novels in their genre to find out how plotting, characterization, and general style work in that genre.

Finally, I sometimes suggest that an author buy a real dictionary, one printed on real paper and with covers. And use it.  

If you’re also an author, do you do your own editing?

You betcha I do! I usually start “writing” while I’m in bed at night, petting my cats and going to sleep. I’ve trained myself to remember what I “wrote.” (If I don’t remember, it wasn’t worth remembering.) Next morning, I go to my computer and write my first draft. Then I let it marinate for a day or two.

When I go back to it and read it carefully, I make corrections, often deleting redundant phrases or words (usually adjectives or adverbs). I recast sentences that don’t make sense. I double-check punctuation. I run a spell check. (But here’s some advice: remember that spell check dictionaries are usually written by engineers; sometimes we need to check the spell checker.)

Then I let my piece sit and marinate for another couple days. When I come back again, I spot things like “is” for “it” and “that” for “than.” Typos, missing words, and just plain dumb mistakes. I correct them, read the whole thing again, and finally take a really deep breath……and click on Send. (Note: I’ll let these answers marinate for a day or two before I submit them.)

What can authors do to better prepare their manuscripts for an editor?

(1) Make sure your formatting is consistent. (See my answer to the next question.)

(2) Use dialogue tags (he said/she said), especially in what is called stichomythic dialogue where two characters speak alternating lines. Without dialogue tags, the reader has to go down to the bottom and count back up to the top to figure out who spoke each line.

(3) Cite your sources if you’re quoting or using material from someone else. Going to the internet, selecting, copying, and pasting into your own work without citing your source is plagiarism, which is a crime. If you quote song lyrics or poetry or use long quotes, you need to secure permission from the holder of the copyright on the work.

(4) Pay attention to details. Don’t give characters names that are too much alike (in one book: Lyuba and Lyova) and remember what your characters’ names are. Where do the characters live? How is a character dressed? (I’ve “seen” characters change clothes, so to speak, within paragraphs in a single scene.)

(5) Do your homework. If you’re writing about, say, how quantum physics is like metaphysics or about a historical era, get your facts right. I once edited a book set in Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth. The inn where there was no room was run by a German family and there was also a Hungarian witch hanging around. But Germans and Hungarians did not live in the Roman province of Judea at that time.

(6) Type more carefully. Spell names and words in other languages correctly. Find your typos and correct them. I’ll usually find the ones you miss. (Actually, I think typos are examples of spontaneous generation.)

(7) Stay out of the thesaurus. Your reader will be happier if you write in clear, plain, direct English without huge, fancy words. I once had to change “demons with vacillating tails.” (Thoughts vacillate; tails wag.) And, yes, you can repeat a word if the repetition will make what you’re saying clear, so you don’t need to find and use endless synonyms for, say, “think” or “say” or “run.” The meanings of synonyms are not, in fact, identical; each synonym has a shade of difference. That’s what makes English the language with the biggest vocabulary in the world.

(8) Stay away from Grammarly. The people who run it have strange ideas about things like sentence length. They say sentences must be short, but that’s a foolish “rule” because a sentence needs to be as long as it needs to be to present the idea it needs to present. And stylistic sentence fragments are often acceptable and effective.

What format do you prefer?

I used to be really fussy and change everything to Times New Roman, 12 pt., but now I’ll work with any font that is easily readable. Either single-space or double-space is OK, but I always add paragraph indents and remove extra spaces between paragraphs. And I am forever changing two spaces at the end of a sentence to one space, which is modern practice. (We’re not working on typewriters anymore. We don’t need those two spaces.)

Do you look for a particular genre?

No. What I look for is good, correct writing. I’ve edited everything from Calvinist theology, a new reading of the Qur’an, and the travels of a female rabbi to a delightful children’s book about dinosaurs that came from outer space to establish the great civilizations. I’ve edited science fiction and romance novels and books about the Nummo, the Tarot, country music in the 1950s, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, procedures to be followed by scientists in hospitals, sociological studies of the LGBTQ community at a major university in England, recovery from addictions, and the memoir of a movie star. That’s what I love about my job! I learn something from nearly every author I work with.

And I have worked on books I didn’t much like. One was soft porn. Another, by a Freudian psychiatrist, argued that women must be virgins when they marry. A third was a self-help book “for prenatal readers” written by a committee. Even though these books made me giggle, my job was to correct their writing, not judge their authors’ opinions, so I focused on spelling, syntax, and punctuation.

Do you attempt to develop a writer?

I have made friends with nearly all of my authors and frequently give them ideas and make suggestions about how to write more logically or more emotionally, how to better develop plot or characters, or how to do better research. I talk to them about traditional publishers and relate my own experiences and those of friends who are authors. I talk about self-publishing and marketing. When appropriate, I refer them to a literary lawyer, to book designers and illustrators, to marketing and PR experts…whatever I think will help them succeed as authors of books that people buy and read. I even refer books I’ve read that may relate to what they’re writing. We talk via email and in phone calls about just about everything. My goal is always to help each author write the best book he or she can produce.

What advice do you have for authors?

Authors of how-to-write books and speakers at writers clubs say, “Respect your editor.” I agree. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t argue or express your opinions when they differ from mine. It means you should be aware that I have a good education, hold a Ph.D. in English, and generally know what I’m talking about. But I’m always open to debate because I understand that your area of expertise is different from mine and it’s your book, not mine. We can respect and learn from each other.

My website:

My Amazon page, where you can see (and buy) my books:

Feminism and Religion, where my blogs appear on the first Sunday of every month: