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Interview with an Editor

Since my hair-brained idea at the start of 2021 to change my MHA a year into the program to something I was more passionate about, my MFA journey has been one of the best things I've ever done. It provided me with a creative outlet and gave me back a sense of identity I had lost after running up the corporate mountain, being a wife, and a mother for more than a decade prior. But most importantly, it gave me the structure to help others find their kernel of success, whatever that may look like for them.

I was recently asked to interview for MFA students at my alma mater and there was no way I was going to turn it down!


What made you decide to start editing?

I've always had a keen eye for the small details. However, editing is more than just picking out the errors & opportunity gaps in craft; it's about bettering the other person. I love to teach and learn, and editing provides me with both of those things in droves.

How did your coursework with SNHU's MFA program help you achieve your goals of editing?

The MFA program at SNHU gave me structure and intention. The things I was editing before SNHU were based more on the stylistic choices I had as a reader than on what was foundationally appropriate for the context and material. SNHU gave me the confidence to build a business on my knowledge and provided me with the framework to understand industry terms, inner workings, and methodology. 

Do you do freelance work or do you work for a publishing company? 

I started out as a freelance editor through an LLC I started while in grad school. I have since taken on a position with Wild Ink Publishing as a managing partner & editor-in-chief as well as launching my own publishing company, in collaboration with Wild Ink, in May of 2023. I still offer freelance work as pro bono editorial assessments one, because I just simply love it, and two, because I not only feel I have a lot of knowledge I have a passion to share but because I learn so much in return.

What skills are necessary to become an editor?

Editing requires both technical and personal skills in equal measure. As a role that puts you directly in the path of another's persons creative vision, you not only have to be versed in the subject matter and know where to research topics if you are unsure but you also have to contain very healthy levels of empathy, compassion, and the ability to listen. Editors are very technical and analytical individuals, but don't forget edges blur and not everything is going to fit into a predefined box the industry has created for it. 

What is most important to remember when working with authors?

Authors are artists, and just like any artist, their vision is their own. Regardless of whether an editor agrees with it or enjoys it, it is their job to ensure that vision is conveyed in the most accurate and clearest way possible. Take their soggy sand castle and build a metropolis of brick and mortar. 

Which type of editing do you prefer and why? 

For me, it depends on the genre. I am an emotional reader, so any genre that causes me to feel something at my core is my favorite to developmental edit. Those genres that I wouldn't pick up and read for pleasure, such as literary or science fiction, are the ones I prefer to line edit. It is easier to separate myself from the content and focus on the technique of the writing if I'm not immersed in the story so deeply that I overlook the grammatical and syntax opportunities. 

You are an Editor-in-Chief; what does that mean? What do you do in that role?

It means everything that goes array is my fault. Okay, not literally, but a lot of it. As an EiC, I have final approval of all material content, formatting, and typesetting that leaves the safe haven of the publishing company before it enters the world for mass consumption. Editing is not a one (wo)man show as there is a whole team of freelance and staff editors who I must ensure remain on schedule with the publishing projects. Publishing timelines are set approximately 1 year in advance, so it is imperative that delays do not happen unless otherwise unavoidable so as to not cause a horrendous domino effect to the other dominos in layout, formatting, cover design, publicity, etc. I also set the timelines for editing based on genre and word count and provide the second set of eyes when or if an author does not agree with another editor's critique. 

What should MFA students know about the publishing business?

The publishing industry is exceptionally saturated, more now than ever. Thank you, BookTok. This means standing out like the Mount Everest of Zits through continued and persistent efforts and a unique style/tone is what it's going to take to be recognized. Agents and publishers are very particular about what they will accept because they want to ensure it sells successfully in accordance with market trends.

However, that being said, there are new agents and publishers coming onto the scene just as quickly as authors right now. There is a perfect fit for you and your story; just remain true to yourself and keep at it until you find your path. Whether that path is traditional Big 5 publishing with an agent, indie publishing with self-representation, or self-publishing; all of these avenues have shown to bring authors immense success. Do not let the lack of immediate success or overnight stardom deter you from writing and putting your creative vision into the world. You will find fulfillment in your efforts by the level of investment you put into it. 

Brittany McMunn

Author | Editor | Writer | Entrepreneur

Brittany has been an avid reader since before she could remember. The dusty bounds bought from local flea markets and thrillers lining her grandmother's bookshelves were her place of peace as a child.

As an editor with a deep passion for helping writers achieve their dreams, Brittany saw the need novice writers had for someone to assist them in refining their works. This need is what drove Brittany to create an online writing community for MFA students aspiring for publication, as well as branching out into freelance editing through her LLC, The Paraphraser.

Brittany has an undergraduate degree in communication and has earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, as well as being a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English honor society. Brittany enjoys genres such as paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, thriller, and young adult fiction all with heavy romantic elements.

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