Author Spotlight: Kim Chance talks Critique & Freelance Editing
Hey there, #amwriting warriors! Today is special because I get to feature my friend and critique partner, Kim Chance! In addition to being an all-around ray of sunshine, Kim maintains a popular YouTube channel where she chronicles her journey to publication, while offering up hefty doses of encouragement and craft-based advice to authors at all stages. Kim's debut novel, KEEPER, releases January 30, 2018 from Flux Books/North Star Editions, and she recently began offering freelance editing services through her author website at kimchance.com.
Hi, Kim! Congrats on the sale of your Young Adult debut, Keeper, set to release in January. What’s one truth you’ve learned so far on this journey from drafting to publication?
Hello! Thank you so much for having me! I think the one truth that this journey has really reaffirmed for me is a personal mantra of mine: dreams don’t work unless you do. Every single step of the process has been challenging, and there were so many times I wanted to just throw in the towel and give up (even after I got my agent and publishing contract!). Writing a book and pursuing publication is not for the faint of heart, and I’ve been pushed to my limits more times than I can count. However, even when I wanted to quit, I told myself that if I wanted this dream of mine to come true, I had to work for it, I had to fight for it—and that’s exactly what I did. Dreams can and do come true—but you can’t expect it to just magically happen. You have to be willing to put in the work it takes to make the dream a reality. It isn’t easy—In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I’ve given birth to three babies! Ha!). If I could give other writers one piece of advice it would be this: fight to the death for your dream. Work harder than you can possibly imagine and put everything you’ve got into your passion. If you can do that, then I believe your dream can and will come true. I’m living proof of that!
Between your YouTube channel and the #Chance2Connect community, you do so much to encourage other writers! What keeps you encouraged?
This might seem a little silly, but I keep a file of all the nice emails, tweets, and comments people have sent me along the way. Another writer recommended this practice to me and it’s something that has really made a difference. Whenever, I’m feeling blue, I open that file and read those things. Whether it was a comment about a vlog, or KEEPER, or even something nice that someone has said about me personally, those little things never fail to make me smile. There is such power in kindness, ya know? I’m also very fortunate to have some amazing people in my corner. Whenever I need a pep talk, those people are right there ready to support me. (Cough, cough Megan, I’m looking at you!) I also find the writing community to be incredibly encouraging. I’ve made connections with so many amazing writers and I love knowing that if I need a smile, there are dozens of people out there ready to give me one. We’re so much stronger together than we are on our own.
You recently started offering editing services via your website. What do you enjoy most about working one-on-one with other writers?
For me, it’s all about giving back. When I started my own writing journey, I was clueless about so many things. There were a lot of people who took me under their wing and helped me get where I am today. I just want to pay that kindness forward. I love helping people and I especially have a heart for other writers. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I really love sharing what I know and have learned with others. Plus, working one-on-one with other writers helps me build relationships and make connections. Having someone critique your work is a nerve-wracking experience and I hope to be able to alleviate some of that worry. I believe that we, as a writing community, need to support and encourage each other. This is just one way that I can do that. Plus, there are so many creative and talented people out there—I love that I get a first glimpse at so many amazing novels!
Choosing a freelance editor is a big decision. What type of research do you recommend doing before hiring someone?
The biggest thing a writer needs to research and understand is what the process of hiring an editor actually entails. I think a lot of people go into it with unrealistic expectations, and they end up disappointed or surprised by the critique. An editor is not a beta reader; an editor’s job is to comb through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and find all those plot holes, character issues, and inconsistencies. An editor is going to point out all the issues within the manuscript and make suggestions on how to correct them. It can be tough having your manuscript come back with so much red ink it looks like it’s bleeding, BUT if you go into the process with an open mind, it will only make your manuscript better. Often we, as writers, can’t see the forest for the trees, and an editor’s job is to focus on the forest. I also think it’s important to find an editor you feel comfortable with and have open communication with. You need to know and understand what his/her editing style is like and what his/her strengths as an editor are. Be sure to ask these questions! Also, obviously, it’s important that you make sure you’re working with a reputable source. Check their experience and credentials and don’t be afraid to ask for a sample edit if that is offered.
What type of prep work should you do before sending your manuscript out to a freelance editor?
Before you send you manuscript to an editor, you’ll need to polish it as best as you can on your own. Hiring an editor can be expensive, and you don’t want to waste your money by sending a first draft. First (and sometimes second and third) drafts are always crappy, and there’s a fair amount of revising and editing a writer can and needs to do on their own before even considering an editor. Do everything in your power to make your manuscript as strong and as polished as it can be THEN hire an editor. You’ll save yourself time and money in the long run if you do this.
What’s your advice for people who may be giving or receiving critique for the first time?
This is tough to do, but my best advice is to not take the critique personally. Like I said earlier, an editor’s job is to look for issues and they’re going to find some. Even the most polished manuscripts will likely have something that needs to be worked on. When these things are pointed out, you can’t take it as a personal attack. It’s ridiculously easier said than done, but criticism is meant to make you better, to make your book better and you have to understand that. If you’re expecting nothing but a glowing review, then you will likely be disappointed. Every book has room for improvement and any critique given is meant to help with that improvement. It’s not an easy process, but it’s necessary. I will say, though, that there is such a thing as bad critique, and any critique that isn’t given kindly and constructively should be ignored. Make sure the person you are receiving critique from is someone reputable.
It’s also important to remember that at the end of the day, it’s your story and YOU are the one who gets the final say on all things. Receiving critique is one of the hardest parts of the writing journey, but if you can go into it with an open mind and an open heart, it will only make you and your book stronger in the end.
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
Oh gosh, for me the most challenging part is the drafting stage—especially the beginning! I’m such a perfectionist and I always feel like I have to get those opening pages just right before I can move on. I’m also a really slow drafter. I’m not one of these writers that can crank out 70k in three weeks. I tend to revise as I go which slows things down for me. The best remedy for this is to set short and long term goals for myself. I’m a list-maker and I really love the thrill of crossing something off my to-do list. Since I am so slow when it comes to drafting, I really have to push myself to get stuff done. That’s why having goals is so important—they help motivate me and make sure that my writing time is productive. Sometimes, though, the best way to tackle it is to just put my bum in the chair and write—even if I know it’s going to be crappy. As one of my CPs always says, “you can edit words on a page. You can’t edit a blank page!”.
And finally, what’s your best piece of editorial advice?
One of the biggest issues I see as an editor is stories starting in the wrong place. Cut the backstory and jump right to the inciting incident. It takes a reader less than a minute to decide if they want to read a book based on that first page. Don’t waste time telling the history of a character the reader hasn’t made a connection with. If a reader doesn’t connect with a character, then they won’t care what happens to them or what has already happened to them. Weave backstory throughout, don’t info dump at the beginning.
I hope you enjoyed Kim's interview as much as I did! I can't thank her enough for taking the time to talk so thoughtfully about critique, as well as sharing tips on finding the right freelance editor for you, and (last but not least!) giving us the evergreen reminder that success always, always, always involves hard work. After all, DREAMS DON'T WORK UNLESS YOU DO. :)
So . . . Are you dying to read KEEPER?
Kim's hosting a giveaway RIGHT NOW! All you have to do is check out her amazing YouTube channel and hit subscribe (if you're not subscribed already!), and once she hits 10K subscribers, she's giving away an ARC of KEEPER! That's right!
YOU COULD BE ONE OF THE FIRST TO READ KIM CHANCE'S DEBUT, MONTHS BEFORE IT GOES ON SALE!
In addition to YouTube, you can also find Kim posting on Twitter at @_KimChance, on Facebook, Instagram, and on her website at: kimchance.com. And be sure to add her witchy debut to your Goodreads list NOW!
Until next time,