Greetings from Sarah Sundin in the Redwood State! Today I have the joy of interviewing multi-published author and professional editor Kathy Ide. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Kathy at writers’ conferences, especially when she served as director of Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the redwoods. Yes, I mentioned redwoods twice—read on to hear about Kathy’s redwood hobby—and to hear about her latest book as well!
Welcome, Kathy! Please tell us about your book, Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors.
Editing Secrets can help aspiring, beginning, or established authors polish their writing so it communicates clearly and has a powerful impact on readers. It contains a treasure trove of suggestions from best-selling authors whose books have touched the hearts and lives of readers around the world.
That sounds so helpful! Why did you write this book?
I’ve been a freelance editor for over twenty years, and I love helping people learn writing skills and polish their manuscripts, no matter where they’re at in the journey. Over the past ten years, I’ve served as faculty and director of multiple Christian writers’ conferences, which gave me the amazing opportunity to meet and connect with my favorite authors and other professionals in the publishing industry.
Eager to share what I’ve learned with a broader audience, I wrote Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors in 2013. It has tips from many of the authors I’ve met to help writers catch and correct typos and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling according to the industry standard’s reference books. But there’s so much more to creating a powerful work of fiction or nonfiction than proofreading. So I followed up that book with Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, with suggestions from successful authors on how to make a manuscript read smoothly and have a powerful impact on readers.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
The same thing that surprises me at every Christian writers’ conference I attend, direct, or serve on faculty for: the willingness—no, eagerness—of established, multi-published, best-selling Christian authors to share the secrets of their success with others. People in this industry understand that we all work for the same “Boss,” so we’re on the same team. If God has called you to write something, and I can come alongside you and be part of that process, His will is accomplished and everyone wins.
That’s what’s always impressed me most about the Christian writing community. And in that spirit, what do you hope readers will take away from this book?
With the popularity of self-publishing, pretty much anyone can create a book. But if you want what you write to appeal to more than just your friends and family members, and to have an impact on readers who don’t know you personally, it’s important to polish what you’ve written. By learning and implementing the techniques in this book, you can create powerful books that will accomplish the goals God had in mind when He called you to write them. Even if you’ve never written anything for publication in your life.
All writers know editing is a major portion of what we do—but non-writers don’t understand that. What else do you wish non-writers knew about our crazy profession?
If non-writers realized how much hard work goes into creating a book, they might have a greater appreciation for what they read. Like many things—singing, ice skating, teaching—when it’s done well, writing can seem effortless. Just string a bunch of words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and so on until you’ve reached enough pages to make a book, right?
The next time you read something that God uses to speak to your heart or even change your life, thank Him for that author—and for all the other people who were involved in the process of getting that book created and into your hands. Then consider writing a review of the book for Amazon or on your blog, and recommend it by title and author to your friends. Perhaps visit the author’s website and use the contact page to send a note of thanks. Believe me, every author appreciates expressions of gratitude from readers. It’s what keeps them going!
Absolutely! Do you have a story about such a moment?
After I edited a series of teen novels, the author forwarded to me an email she received from a woman who taught English in an inner-city public high school. She said her students usually gave her flack when they were assigned a reading project … until she gave them this series. One girl, who was taking 7th grade for the third time, was now graduating at a tenth-grade level, and she thanked this woman for teaching her to love reading. And this woman thanked the author. And the author thanked me. So rewarding to see how God uses books to change lives!
What an incredible moment. With all the many things you’ve done in your career, do you have an unfulfilled dream?
After twenty years of writing and editing books, I’m learning about screenplay writing. I would love to get into working on screenplays—my own and polishing others’ scripts.
What do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?
I love Christian fiction that has intriguing, in-depth characters in fascinating, layered situations—as long as the writing is extremely well polished. Being a professional editor, I have trouble getting past typos or “PUGS” (punctuation, usage, grammar, spelling) errors. I’m currently binge-reading Charles Martin’s novels—and having loved his first nonfiction book, I’m now reading the second one.
I’m also a huge fan of Liz Curtis Higgs—her novels and her devotionals.
Some of my favorites too! What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
A few years ago, my husband and I discovered a list of the top 40 biggest trees in the world—all sequoias, all of which grow naturally only in an area about four to six hours from our home. We realized we’d seen ten or fifteen of them and decided to try to find all of the trees on the list. That developed into quite a quest, as several of those trees are in overgrown, hard-to-reach groves on steep hillsides! The quest expanded when my husband figured out how to measure the volume of a tree … our top 40 list nearly doubled. We’re toying with the idea of writing about our adventures and creating a book. But in the meantime we’ve enjoyed putting together SequoiaQuest.com. And after the recent wildfires that destroyed some of our beloved trees, we’ve started doing some volunteer field research with the forest service.
I love this so much! Well, with all your sequoia questing, do you have time to write? Tell us about your next project.
I’m currently working on a screenplay for a sweet-romance Christmas movie. And a travel book about the adventures my husband and I have had tracking down the largest trees in the world, the Giant Sequoias.
Those both sound delightful! We’re looking forward to them. Thank you for sharing with us!
Writing for Him,