- Cara Trent
Meet the Editor: An Interview
Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Welcome! If you’re here, you’re probably looking for an editor and, chances are, you want to know more about me before you hire me as an editor for your story.
Sure, there’s some information on my About Me page, some answers in my FAQs, but a blurb doesn’t encapsulate a person. So, I’m going to answer some common questions a writer might want to ask me to figure out if we’re a good author-editor match.
I also wanted to try something a little different. Pre-pandemic, I was briefly an intern for a tiny communication company. My mentor interviewed me with absolutely ZERO professional questions. Instead of asking typical “interview questions”, she asked a bunch of off-the-wall questions that, honestly, broke the ice much more easily while still maintaining a professional relationship. I loved that approach, so I’m going to incorporate some of that energy into this “interview.”
Will there be professional questions this time? Of course. But I also want you to be able to see a glimpse of the person behind the website you see, the work you’ll receive. Because the more we know about each other as people, the better chance we have of working well together.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
How long have you been a book editor?
My business opened in September of 2021. I’ve been studying book editing as a profession since July 2020. I’ve been studying literature and media critically for well over 10 years. I’ve been devouring books and stories for a LONG time before that.
Why are you a freelance book editor?
On a personal level, because it’s enriching, invigorating, fun work. I love seeing how authors present ideas, stretch their characters, make me laugh with dialogue, and shock me with plot twists. I love seeing possibilities for character development, for stronger scenes, for more intense dialogue, for more compelling plotlines. I love being able to help my author unlock those possibilities for themselves so that they can come up with solutions that I couldn’t have imagined – that blow me away.
On a bigger level, because I think the world needs – that people need – deep, resonant stories about true things. About complex things. About hard things. The more stories we have like that, the more people can be reached. The more people can know that they’re not alone in their struggles and the way they wrestle with the world and all its iniquities. The more people can come out the other side, because someone from the other side of the world put truth to page.
Helping people save others through stories? I’ll work my whole life for that.
Would you rather live your life as a Muppet or as an anime character?
Anime character. Even if that means I have to escape death at least once per season. Muppets, on the other hand… unnerve me. They do sing a great Christmas album, though. I’ll give them that.
Besides, who can resist living in a world with classic lines like this?
What are your qualifications?
Practical experience-wise, I’ve been helping writers improve their craft since 2019. I joined a writer’s group with the group’s full consent to act as an editor. Since then, I’ve worked on novels and novellas for authors who are indie-published and for those seeking traditional publishing.
Education-wise, I have a bachelor’s English with a Creative Writing concentration from Indiana University-Bloomington. I routinely take professional development courses from well-established industry professionals.
Some might say I never stop taking courses, but they don’t understand – I can stop any time I want! Besides, it’s fun to learn new things and, ultimately, that benefits everyone.
Are you going to tell me that my novel is garbage?
NO. Absolutely no. I’m also a writer – whoever hands me a manuscript has agonized over it, loved on it, and had existential crises over it. I’ve never met a writer who didn’t refer to their story as “their baby” at one point in time. As such, I think having the opportunity to read and evaluate someone’s work is a privilege that I will honor with both truth and compassion.
I don’t sit at my desk with gleeful excitement about the possibility of tearing a manuscript apart. I don’t live on author tears – if I found out I made an author cry, I’d probably cry too. Editors and authors are meant to be teammates, not enemies.
This feeling, described to me by my first-ever editing client, is the feeling that I want to give to every author that I work with:
“Writing can be a highly personal experience, so putting my work under the microscope like that is extremely intimidating, but as soon as I start reading your feedback, that intimidation washed away and it felt like I was reading insightful comments from a friend.”
What are your feelings towards the Oxford comma?
I much prefer it, and the Chicago Manual of Style (which dictates the standard rules of copyediting for fiction in the US) mandates it.
So, give me my Oxford commas or I will put them there myself.
What are your rates?
That depends on the service. Developmental editing is the most comprehensive service, followed by a manuscript evaluation, followed by a beta-read. You can learn more about my services here.
HOWEVER! These services can be reasonably negotiated to accommodate budgetary restrictions. Example: say you want a developmental edit, the package for which costs $1,700. However, you have a budget of $1000. We could work out an agreement where I offer a version of a developmental edit with fewer hours of help during revisions and a shorter editorial letter.
What rights do I retain when I send you my manuscript for editing?
All of them! As an editor, I have no ownership of your copyright to your manuscript. Your book is yours.
What really makes a work stand out?
I'm a simple woman with simple needs. For me, it's the quality of the prose. You don’t necessarily need it to tell a good story. But when you have good prose AND a good story? What a treat.
What kinds of works are you NOT interested in working on?
As of right now, I don’t work with nonfiction. That’s not to say I wouldn’t work with some kinds of nonfiction in the future, or that nonfiction is “not interesting” to me. I simply don’t have a lot of experience in the nonfiction field, so I don’t edit in that arena yet.
Within fiction, I will do beta-reads for any genre (though I am most effective within my specialties of fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, literary fiction, and young adult fiction). ANY genre. I will say that I’m not particularly skilled with westerns, Christian fiction, or harlequin-style romance yet.
If you have a manuscript in those genres and want developmental editing or a manuscript evaluation, please contact me anyway! Editors know other editors, so I can get you references and make sure you’re in good hands.
If you could live in the world of any book, TV show, or movie, what would it be and why?
I’d have to go with My Hero Academia, simply because I’m obsessed with it and think it’d be so cool to have a weird little quirky power. Nevermind all the villains and deteriorating society… we’re dealing with that already, so why not add a little superpower?
Avatar: The Last Airbender is a close second (Earth Kingdom!). Dragon Age: Inquisition is third. Yes, it’s a video game, but still!! Great writing, fascinating lore, and some of my favorite characters from any medium? Yes, please.
Woo! That was a lot of information. If you made it here, congratulations! Go get a treat, you deserve it. If you're STILL curious about me, I answer some (less fun) questions on my FAQs page. But feel free to email me and ask me more questions!