📰 NEWS: I did a thing! Q+A with the author AHM Beattie for her Focus on Friday feature.
Text from the interview below:
Time to get focused everyone.
Please welcome Claire Cronshaw.
I hope you enjoy. I know I did!
- Thank you for being our Focus today. It’s great to have you on board.
So, to get things started, please can you tell us about yourself? As much or little as you want.
Hi, everyone. So, a bit about me: I grew up in Cumbria (near Shap) before moving away for university. After doing my undergraduate degree at Keele in Staffordshire, I moved to Leeds for post-grad and stayed there for 12 years teaching English. I married my husband (author, Jon Cronshaw) during that time, and we had our son. We moved back to the northwest in 2016 and, after a brief stint in Cumbria, we bought a house in Morecambe. During the last four years, I have rather pivoted in my career and have retrained as a proofreader and a copyeditor with a specialism in indie fiction. I still work at the chalkface for a couple of days a week, but the majority of the time I am working from home on my own business, CherryEdits.com.
- As a proofreader, what has been the most exciting work you have worked on?
I have a repeat client who has written a Bildungsroman in three parts. We follow the central character, Nick, from early years up to, currently, late teens. Because I have been with Nick from the start, I genuinely cannot wait to find out what he is up to in the new episodes. I find myself thinking about him as the writer has created such a world and cast of characters around him. It’s not a novel which is easily categorised into a certain genre and, as such, it’s not necessarily destined for the top of the book charts, however, it’s a passion project for the author. I can tell how much joy she finds in the writing process and I am thrilled to help her tidy up her manuscript so she can share her pride and joy with others.
And, of course, there’s the work I’ve done for Jon. My husband is registered blind (severely sight impaired). He tried to work with external editors and proofreaders but found it difficult when the edits were returned to him. It’s really hard to use a screen reader with track changes. That was one of the drivers for my retraining. I wanted to support Jon and know that I was doing the editing and proofreading well and to a professional standard. And the fact that these books which we have worked on together are doing really well – he’s selling lots – that is very exciting and I am proud of him (and us!)
- Which do you prefer, the reading part of your role or the editing side and why?
I don’t think I can separate these to be honest. There is the feeling of satisfaction gained from tidying up a sentence, from spotting a flaw, from catching an inconsistency – oh, they are my favourite! Like the ice cream parlour in one novel which was Franciano’s in one chapter and Francesco’s in another – authors are always really grateful for these eagle eyed spots! But, then, of course, there is the privilege of being able to read these manuscripts before they have been published. As I become more experienced and established in my role, I aim to move more towards specialising in my preferred genres. But this is a challenge in itself as I love such a range of genres. Women’s fiction, romance and literary fiction are the ones I am veering towards at the moment as they are most often on rotation on my Kindle so when I get the double whammy of enjoying the editing and loving the story, that’s the sweet spot.
- You have dabbled in creative writing. Do you have any plans to publish your dabbles?
Ha! Well, that is a good question. Considering I have taught creative writing to teenagers for almost half my life, and edited and proofread lots of adults’ creative writing endeavours, you’d think I’d be confident to go for it. My problem is story structure. I have characters, I have voices, I have scenarios, I have themes. But I have not got a strong outline to stick them to. I am doing a lot of reading around story structure at the moment so I’m getting a better idea. I am also going to start attending some in-person creative writing groups in November so I hope that gives me the impetus to get more disciplined with my own writing. In all honesty, I do not prioritise it. It’s not at the top of my agenda. But I love writing, so why not?
- What is the best piece of advice you can give to authors from your professional viewpoint?
It may surprise readers that I am advocating these tools but, I’m a realist. Whether you are aiming to go the indie route, or whether corporate publishing is your preference, do as much self-editing as you can before you send it off to the professionals. For the indie scenario, which is what I am most familiar with, authors maybe only have the budget for one editing/proofreading pass. Use Word’s spelling and grammar checker as your first port of call. Use the read aloud function to do an audio pass of your story (honestly, that will alert you to all sorts of stuff!) If you have any paid-for software like ProWritingAid or PerfectIt, run it through that. Send your manuscript to beta readers (ones that won’t just stroke your ego.) If you make any edits as a result of feedback, start the process again: spell check, read aloud, ProWritingAid. Then, when your commissioned editor/proofreader asks you for a 1000 word sample in order to generate a quote for your project, they will be more likely to price it within the ‘lighter intervention’ end of their fee scale. You can’t do it all yourself as you will have blindspots caused by being too close to the text and beta readers are not editors – it is a skill which requires learning and instruction – but the more that you can do yourself, the better. This is also the case if you are approaching corporate publishers with your manuscript. They have tight margins and will be more likely to assess your manuscript favourably if they can see that they will not have to spend hours and £s getting it shipshape. They will obviously put it through their teams to make it as marketable as possible, but they would rather do that with something that sparkles to them on first read.
- Where can we find you and how is best to contact you?
My website is CherryEdits.com. I am also on LinkedIn and Facebook as Claire Cronshaw – you are welcome to send me a friend or connection request.
- Thanks again for being involved in Focus on Friday. Is there anything else you want to add?
Just a thank you for featuring me. It’s been fun!