Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Today - Susan Uttendorfsky

Please welcome Susan Uttendorfsky to my blog today! She is my professional editor and I believe that if you are writing a book, she would be a great asset to your finished product. I met her through LinkedIn groups, specifically the group Writania. Rita introduced me to her and I am so glad I chose to have her as my editor. I have tons of questions, but will list my most important ones and I hope that those of you who read my blog will ask her some, too. She will be checking in throughout the day to comment back. Later this week we will draw a name from the people who do comment or have a question for 10% discount on a book or poetry you would like edited.

Thank you, Susan, for joining us. I have a goal to get self-published authors to consider an editor before they launch their babies. I believe it would make all the difference in the world for sales and for respect.

First question, tell us a little about yourself, married? Kids? Grandkids?
I’m not married, and I have two grandchildren – Mason is nineteen months old and Lylah is seven months old.

Fill us in on your background with regards to writing.
I had my first poem published when I was a child, and I wrote some short stories in high school.  After I trained as a secretary in the early 1980s, I mostly did business writing. When my children were small, I wrote some non-fiction parenting magazine articles, and newsletter articles for La Leche League, a breastfeeding organization. I had a letter to the editor published in Time magazine once.

Have you published a book and if so what was the genre?
No, I haven’t had a book published. I actually did start a novel when I was in my 20s – I think I still have it somewhere. It had something to do with espionage and the potential for nuclear war. Give me a break – that was in the 80s! It wasn’t very good, but that attempt has given me a great appreciation for all of you creative people out there who actually complete the process! I know there are lots of tips and tricks for keeping track of characters and subplots (spreadsheets, white boards, etc.), but even just to think them up in the first place is impressive. You’ve all got to give yourselves a big hand for that.

What got you started in professional editing?
As a secretary/administrative assistant, I inevitably edited my boss’ work, as well as my own. In addition, since I loved grammar and was happy to pore over the written word, I gradually became the go-to person for people who wanted me to review something. My mother took up writing after her retirement, and I started editing her books, which I enjoyed very much.  I loved seeing how a story developed and how I could tweak it just a little to make it better.  And how I could point out something an author hadn’t even considered and help polish their work. I stopped working in 2010 and went on disability, but I wasn’t comfortable relying on a source of income that could stop at any time, so after the first six months, I started investigating other employment opportunities that would fit my circumstances and editing came to the forefront. One of the best things I loved about administrative assistant work is that I enjoyed the tasks, and I could work in any industry and learn all about it. Editing has that same allure! I enjoy the tasks involved, and I get to read all about all sorts of topics. In the past year, I’ve learned about dinosaur fossils in Oklahoma; the history of Martinsburg, New York; and how to be a successful entrepreneur. Moreover, I get to read great fiction books! Depending on the changes I may suggest, nobody else in the world may ever read that exact book again… that’s exciting.

What are your goals in editing?
Well, my goals are to support myself financially and to support authors in achieving their dreams of being published. I’m not out to make a million dollars, and I don’t want to work for a publisher or another kind of company – I like being a freelance copy editor and working directly with authors. I genuinely want to help you make your book the best it can be.

What is your favorite genre to read? Do you have a favorite author?
My favorite genre is science fiction, particularly disaster and end-of-the-world scenarios, and dystopian fiction. I don’t really think I have a favorite author. There are some authors from whom I am have all the books in a series, but there isn’t anybody whose book I would automatically purchase regardless of the specific book. In addition to editing, I also offer honest reviews of self-published books.

And last but not least, where is your favorite place to vacation? I like to ask this one for fun!
My goodness! I haven’t been on a real vacation in over fifteen years. Hmmm… I did go to Paradise Island in the Bahamas once, and that was very nice. I think that was in 1989. Lol! I’d like to go on a cruise someday.

Thanks again for your willingness to come on my blog and answer questions about yourself and your profession. I am so glad there are people like you who love editing and are willing to do it at an affordable price. You can reach Susan at these links:
Adirondack Editing
Susan Uttendorfsky’s public LinkedIn profile
Smashwords profile
I am leaving all of you with one final note—Susan’s trailer for all of you to watch. I hope there are those among you that are considering Susan as an editor. Don’t wait, contact her and find out if this is the right way for you to have your book clean and professional when you put it out there for all to read.

Until Thursday, may all of you have a wonderful week! Lisa


  1. Hello Susan,

    I've been looking forward to your guest spot on Lisa's blog since she told me about it.

    I am one of Lisa's critique partners and we've had many conversations about how editing, and getting a professional editor to look at your work, is so important to releasing the best novel possible. I love Lisa's story and cannot wait to hold the finished project in my hands.

    I have written a paranormal fiction piece which is in revisions right now. I'm hoping to have those done this year and will be looking for an editor myself. I'll definitely check out your website and connect with you on LinkedIn.

    I respect people who love grammar as I, myself, hate it. Commas are my bane, although I've gotten better, they still trip me up. How long does the editing process take? Also, if someone is going the traditional publishing route, do you work with agents and publishers? I haven't decided if I'm self-publishing or if I will go through the process of queries and submissions.

    If you like dystopian fiction, check out Park Service by Ryan Winfield. It's YA, but very interesting.

    Thank you for guesting on Lisa's blog. I am so excited for her. She has been working so hard to get to this point.

    RG (Robin) Calkins

  2. Susan, hang in there. I'm sure people will comment later. Some are probably at work. ;-) Robin, thanks for your comment! Susan has been great with me so far. I can't wait to see if she likes my novel!

  3. Thanks, Robin, for your comment! As for timing, it depends on how long the work is and the level of editing needed. For example, not only do I have different tiers of service (such as proofreading versus copy editing), but the work itself may need a different level of editing (such as light versus intensive). I require a ten-page sample before I commit to editing any material, both for the author's comfort and mine. The author gets to see ahead of time what I might do to their precious work, and I get to see how much work it's going to be for me. Along general guidelines, I can do a 200-page fiction book in about two weeks.

    As for going the traditional route, no, I don't work with any publishers or agents. But since you're trying to get your material out of the all-consuming slush pile, having a professional edit can definitely help in that regard.

    Thanks for the book suggestion, too... YA is great in that it's short and sweet.


  4. Hi Susan,

    Sorry for the belated comment. I was in Greenwood Village this morning taking the Colorado portion of my Loan Originator license and have been in meetings since returning to work.

    Because Lisa has already told me so much about you, I honestly do not have any input. I do have one slightly off-topic question, though. Where did you get the idea for your company name? The mountain range? The Algonquian speaking Native Americans? The chair...?

    I apologize if this is an odd question, but that is what I do. :)

    Thanks for going on Lisa's Blog!

  5. Hi Toni! Odd questions are definitely a writer's forte, so fire away!

    I live in upstate New York not far from the Adirondack State Park. Everything up here is "Adirondack" this and "Adirondack" that. It just seemed to come naturally! My mother's children's series is called "Adirondack Mouse". Although I should have picked a shorter name - Adirondack gets a little long sometimes... but then again I'm used to Uttendorfsky. :)

    Any other questions? I'm happy to share!

  6. Susan,

    It was great to get an editor's perspective. I'm wondering what you find as the greatest challenge editing manuscripts for writers have not yet published. Anything we should try to focus on in our first drafts?



  7. Hi Janet - thanks for joining in! Hmmm, frequent edits for unpublished authors. I think the most frequent issue I run across is dialogue mechanics combined with show, don't tell. For instance, newer writers often want to have their characters grumble, moan, whine, yell, exclaim, snap, whisper, and demand when they talk. This type of emotion should be shown in actions, not described in speaker attributes. The word "said", while boring, unimaginative, and frequently used, becomes invisible to the reader's eye and readers just skim over it. Using a descriptive speaker attribute can take the reader right out of the story and force them to focus on the emotion trying to be described. It's better to show those feelings with character actions.

    So, stick with "said"! :) Best wishes, Janet!