Shining the Spotlight on Elizabeth Prybylski

SHINING THE SPOTLIGHT

Welcome to Shining the Spotlight.  We have decided to resurrect this series of interviews with writers, editors and publishers. Today we have Elizabeth Prybylski, an editor with E. Harvey Editing Services, Editor-in-chief of Eat Sleep Write and contributor to  Damn Faeries published by Divertir Publishing. 

Please take a seat and prepare yourself. 🙂

 

 

Alright, boss. I’m ready! Put me in the game!
Elizabeth H Prybylski

First tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well, I’m 28, live in rural NH with a herd of cats, chickens, family and a tolerant husband. When I’m not involved in writing I’m typically playing music doing art, or playing video games. Currently I’m hooked on Starbound which is like a 2D Minecraft.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

A woman who likes video games…That’s not a rare as some would think these days. What’s rare is…the sword stuff. Tell me about your studies of the Japanese Sword?

I’ve been training on and off for about five years now with my instructors. We’re a small group, but what we do is pretty strictly historical. The style is an amalgamation of several others and is largely driven by footwork and creating the mind/body link so you have good muscle memory. In addition to the Japanese sword I am learning Naginata, which is very similar a Western spear in some regards, though the best description I have of it is a Katana on a stick.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

Is it Iaido? The art of the Japanese Sword?

No. It’s not Iaido or Kendo. It incorporates some Iaijutsu (draw cuts) which Iaido employs, but the difference between the to is the “do” in iaido and kendo means it’s more of a style of meditation. The “jutsu” is a combat application, or so I am led to understand. It’s why we would call what we do “kenjutsu” (sword art, in translation).
Elizabeth H Prybylski
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Elizabeth H Prybylski “KESA-GIRI”

Tell me a little about what it’s like being an editor?

It’s largely like being a teacher. While I go through and repair mistakes a lot of what I try and do is teach writers. The best way to help prevent future mistakes is to help them understand what they did.

I really enjoy what I do and find it very fulfilling. There are times when I want to pull my hair out, but that’s just part of the job.

Elizabeth H Prybylski

How do you decide who you take on? Or is it more of the author deciding which editor to hire?

It’s a combination shot. If someone sends me a manuscript that I really can’t help – like it’s a ESL client whose language needs a lot of work – then I will tell them. I won’t take just anyone’s money; that just seems dishonest. If I don’t believe the author is ready for an editor I will say no.

However, generally speaking it’s the author coming to me and asking me for help. Typically it’s through email, facebook messages, LinkedIn messages… any of my social media accounts.

Elizabeth H Prybylski

How long have you been editing professionally and what kind of studies did you have to undergo?

I have been editing since late 2010 or early 2011. I didn’t so much get to study as I was hurled into the deep end with a copy of Strunk and White.

What happened was I was a karaoke host at the time, and one of my customers happened to be a gentleman by the name of Dr. Kenneth Tupper who owns Divertir Publishing. He and I got to talking and I wound up working for his small press. It was one of those “right time, right people, right place” sort of situations.

I learned to edit through his mentoring and through a great deal of reading and studying on my own. I took a number of English courses in college, but my degree in European history helped as well since I did a great deal of writing for that, too.

Elizabeth H Prybylski

I understand that there’s different types of editing. Can you explain what they are please?

There are many different ways people categorizing “editing”. I usually break it down into three categories: copy editing, line editing (aka substantive editing), and developmental editing.

Copy editing is the least intensive, generally speaking. It focuses on the grammar, formatting, and technical aspects of the writing. It doesn’t really touch things like adverbs or over-use of adjectives. That said, if I’m copy editing and I see something like that I do mention it.

The middle grade is line editing where the editor looks at things like word choice, sentence structure, and things like that. It typically focuses on words rather than on punctuation and grammar. Though, of course, if there are serious problems I do address those.

Developmental editing gets down to the bones of the story. If the manuscript has huge plot holes, flat character development and other major problems beyond the purview of the words and punctuation it falls into this category. While I will point these things out to authors if they’re struggling I don’t typically take it on myself to close them unless I’m paid for that extra step. It can be a great deal of work and can turn into ghostwriting if the problems are substantial enough.

To identify the term, though it isn’t editing, ghostwriting is writing an author’s manuscript for them.

Elizabeth H Prybylski

Do you do any ghostwriting?

I’m sort of doing some for one of my clients. He is writing a book on financial planning and while he’s an excellent accountant and engineer he isn’t really a writer. I’ve been having to tear apart and reorganize his manuscript for about six months now.

He also knows that writing isn’t his strong point, by the way, so I don’t think he’d be upset with me for saying so.

Elizabeth H Prybylski

 

I assume that all these different editing services have different price points?

Yes. The more intensive the work I need to do the more it costs. A lot of that price is reflected by the amount of time it takes me to help the author resolve their difficulty.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

What’s the cost of the cheapest per word?

It varies by word count. I don’t generally have a specific price per word. My prices fluctuate a little based on needs of the authors and so on.

Based on a 65,000 word book, my average price for copyediting is $750 and my price for line editing is around $1,500. I don’t have a standard for developmental because that will fluctuate wildly depending on the needs of the manuscript.

Elizabeth H Prybylski

A lot of authors specialize in a particular genre. Do editors also do that?

Some do, yes. I definitely have genres I prefer and genres I won’t touch. The gentleman writing the financial planning book had to beg me to take it, and I only accepted the job because he is a personal friend of my family.

Generally speaking editors will probably be best at editing the genres they enjoy reading. Naturally, I prefer fantasy of all flavors, mystery, thrillers, romances… I am a pretty diverse reader, so I am willing to work on almost anything.

Elizabeth H Prybylski

What are the best three novels that you’ve ever read?

Oh jeez. This is a tough question because I have so many favorites. I’d say right now it’d be anything from the Dresden Files series, The Book of Deacon, and “The White Dragon” by Anne McCaffrey.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

So all in the fantasy genres?

At the moment, yes. I tend to read almost exclusively fantasy. However, the best non-fiction book I’ve read recently is “Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World” by Kirsten Lamb. It’s an incredible book for authors looking to promote their writing.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

I will look out for that one. You are also an author so tell me a bit about what you write about?

As might be hinted at by my reading list, I write Fantasy. Currently I’m writing a novel about faeries (it’s not as sparkly as it sounds), and my husband and I are writing an urban fantasy series.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

How do you fit it all in? I mean editing, blogging and writing…

I don’t have a “day job”. I spend most of my day handling the various tasks of the blog at Eat Sleep Write, my editing, my personal writing… And so on. The blog is actually easier than it sounds; I write most of my Q&A posts for the week on Saturday evening and then schedule them for every day of the business week.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

Some authors have concerns that editors might affect their ‘voice’, how you address these concerns?

Well, there are few things to address in line with that question. Many fledgling authors think me addressing word choice in a sentence will impact their “voice”. It doesn’t. If you have too many adjectives, adverbs, or you are just plain using the wrong word that isn’t your “voice”. Voice, for an author, is how their individual experience and viewpoint comes across. Have a bunch of writers sit together and describe the same thing. Assuming they are writing well, all of those descriptions will differ to some degree. Those differences are what I believe to be “voice”. With that in mind, short of rewriting large sections of their work for them, I’m not going to injure their “voice” by helping them improve their work. I also do a great deal of thinking and consideration when addressing problems where their “voice” is an issue. For example, I am working with a Russian client (who is wonderful, by the way). Her “voice” is unique. The culture she is coming from, the way she portrays certain aspects of life… It’s very different than what I would see in America. However, given the language barrier her sentence structure is sometimes odd, and her vocabulary (in English) sometimes leads her to make choices that don’t quite fit. I have been working with her for a long while now on making sure her sentences are clean, and helping her learn new vocabulary. It doesn’t damage her voice, and it polishes her writing to a mirror finish. Any editor who goes out of their way to erase an author’s voice has no business being in the profession. My job is to make the author’s voice shine, not erase it.
Elizabeth H Prybylski

Thank you Elizabeth.

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ELIZABETH H. PRYBYLSKI

You can check her out on:

blog: Copydesk

Editing: E Harvey Editing Services

Follow her Twitter: @EHPrybylski