This month it’s my pleasure to introduce you to editor (and novelist) Liz Tolsma. It took a tragedy to put her on the path to publication, and now she’s adding editing to her writing resume.
Welcome, and thank you for agreeing to chat with me. When did you start writing/editing professionally?
I started writing seriously in 2002. As they say, life happened. We homeschooled for a season and adopted a child with special needs. There was a period of life where I wrote very little. But God’s timing is perfect. Just a few weeks after we sent all 3 kids to school, I got my first contract. I just began editing at the beginning of this year. I’ve taken a lot of classes and have really grown in my editing skills to where I’m very confident of myself now.
Why did you want to be a freelance writer/editor?
I had dreamed of becoming an author since I was a child. The practical side of me, instead, got a degree in elementary education. But that desire never left. After 9/11, I realized my life could be over in an instant. I didn’t want to come to the end of it wishing I would have given writing a try. As far as editing, I really want to make my living completely in the realm of writing and publishing. My perfect job would be one where I get to read books all day long. That’s what I’m doing now. Editing also brings out the teacher part of me. I love working with new authors, instructing them and helping them to polish their works and get them ready for publication.
What’s your specialty/focus?
My focus is on Christian fiction. I edit all types and genres. My clients mostly are new authors who are dipping their toes into the publishing world. I do also enjoy working with established authors, though.
What’s your favorite part of this kind of work?
My favorite part is getting to do what I love to do all day long, and that’s reading. I love seeing other authors develop their characters and their plot lines. And so much fun to get to the conclusion of an edit and know that you’ve helped out another author. It’s great give back that way.
What’s your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is being able to balance my writing time and my editing time. I have several projects in the works writing-wise and deadlines to meet for those. I have to be careful how I schedule my day so that I do get some writing in as well as some editing.
What’s surprised you the most during your career?
The biggest surprise to me is how many authors utilize editors. It’s important to make your manuscript the best that it can be before you present it to a publisher or an agent. Authors who choose to hire an editor to help them with their work are very smart. Agents and publishers are inundated with submissions every day. Whatever you can do to make your work rise to the top of the slush pile is well worth it.
If you could give a new freelance writer/editor one piece of advice, what would it be?
Just one piece of advice? 🙂 Learn your craft. That’s broad, but if you aren’t reading other authors works, if you aren’t taking classes or interacting with other authors in some way, you aren’t growing. If you don’t grow, if you’re not open to advice and constructive criticism, you’ll never get published. Any author who tells you they know everything about writing is either lying to you or delusional. Every writer needs to work at the craft. That process never stops.
If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?
I would have started earlier. Years ago, I would have pursued my writing dream, and I would have become an editor long ago.
What’s your favorite kind of work? Why?
Boy, that’s a hard question to answer. I enjoy substantive edits because I love looking at the big picture and seeing what works and what doesn’t work in the story. I also enjoy copyediting, because that’s where you get down to the nitty-gritty of writing. I love experimenting with word choices and sentence structure. That’s the fun part of writing and editing. That’s why I started in this crazy business.
What does your work space/office look like?
I don’t really have an office space. I have a small desk in my bedroom, but it’s much too small. When I work, I really spread out. Right now, I’m working on my couch. We have a new dog who is quite the lapdog, and she insists on being near me when I work. If I’m in a chair, she has to be on my lap. That’s why I switched to the couch. She can be next to me without having to be on top of me. There isn’t room for both her and my computer!
What is your go-to snack when working?
Um, chocolate. Is there any other snack?
If you could only recommend one editing resource, what would it be? Why?
The Chicago Manual of Style. It gives you most everything you need to know about editing and grammar and the like all in one resource. I couldn’t live without it.
If you could only recommend one writing resource, what would it be? Why?
Susie May Warren’s book Inside Out. It’s phenomenal. She gives step-by-step instructions on how to write. If you follow what she lays out in the book, you will be able to write your own novel in about eight weeks. Whenever I write, that book is by my side.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for having me. I would like to mention that I do offer a 10% discount to all AC FW members. If you mention this blog post, I’ll take another 5% off. How’s that for a deal?
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Have a blessed day!