Today, we get to speak with Heidi J. Peterson, an editor.
What led you to editing as a career choice?
I’m a wordaholic and love books. My mother earned a Library Science degree so we had a great influence and book access. However, like so many others, I actually fell into editing. After receiving my business degree, for many years I worked in Account Management. At different companies, colleagues often asked me to “fix their writing” or “make it sound better.” Over the years, friends asked me to help with resumes, business presentations, and the occasional holiday letter. Eventually, I just couldn’t stay away and started freelance business editing and eventually added book editing.
Tell me a little about your background.
I grew up in the Chicago suburban area. We explored the wooded trails behind our home and walked to the clearing to play baseball, to picnic, and to drink the icky, egg-tasting water from the pump. We watched horses trot on the trails next to the creek. Continuing along the creek to the north, we ended up at the nature center and visited the rescued and rehabilitated baby animals. Our public school annual field trips included a bus trip downtown to see the museums: The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry, and the Shedd Aquarium. All these experiences fueled my imagination when reading books or jotting down stories.
What do you do for fun?
As I live in Minnesota, my husband and I enjoy traveling somewhere warm every March for a week. It’s nonnegotiable. Daily I walk my dog and take in nature. In the summer, I enjoy playing tennis, bird-watching, and going to a lake. In the colder times—about nine months of the year here—I enjoy reading with a blanket, or two.
What is your editorial specialty?
For fiction books, I specialize in mystery, short story, historical, and suspense/thriller. For nonfiction books, I specialize in biography, business, memoir, and true stories. My editing is always about enhancing a client’s words and ideas.
What services do you provide?
I provide editing at the copyediting and line editing levels, as well as manuscript critiques. I also proofread manuscripts.
Why is it important for an author to have their book edited?
Authors write to express and to have their book read by others, with the ultimate goal of having the reader enjoy and follow their story all the way. No author wants a reader to miss the journey because the reader is tripped up by a passage or glaring errors. Most readers will forgive a few errors, but if the book is riddled with errors or just doesn’t make sense, they’ll put it aside and pick up another book and may write a bad review online. However, a clean book with a good story usually provides positive online reviews and recommendations to potential readers.
What is your process when working with authors?
I like to find out exactly what services a client is looking for to improve their book. I complete a free, four-page edit sample in Microsoft Word so the author can see the suggestions, changes, and queries I would ask. I return the sample with marked changes, as well as a clean copy so the author can see the before and after clearly.
What memorable editing projects have you worked on?
This is a tough one! I like projects where I learn new things, assist a first-time author in getting words into print, or help someone secure new business. In this realm, three projects rank right up there: editing a large contract for a financial forensic accountant, editing Secrets of Willow Lane for a first-time author, and creating a business proposal for an entrepreneur who secured a $25,000 contract.
What editing tip did you learn that perhaps you didn’t use earlier on in your editing career?
Look at the big picture first, and then examine the little picture. It’s so easy for an editor to hone in on a sentence before taking a look at the entire document and the flow of the story or project. So, now I read the entire manuscript first, before making any electronic changes. I’ll scribble some notes on a notepad as I go through it, but I won’t mark the document at this first read. This gives me an opportunity to see where the story is headed. Then, as I go through and edit I can more easily catch inconsistencies or touch base with the author on unclear sections.
What do you say to authors, especially first-time authors, who have reservations about working with an editor?
I understand their apprehension and can relate! I’ve had my own writing reviewed by book and online editors. Even professional editors know their work needs a separate set of eyes to catch things they may miss. Since writers review their work how they thought it out in their head when they wrote it, it’s easy to miss something they thought they wrote one way when they actually typed it another way. And, spellcheck obviously doesn’t catch everything.
Handing your book baby over to someone else can be unnerving to seasoned writers, as well as to new writers. This is why I carefully make suggestions to improve the writing with the reader in mind—to ensure their book or project is well received by others. Brutal feedback isn’t helpful or necessary to move a project forward. Constructive suggestions elevate a writing piece better every time.
Do you get to read for fun? Do you have a favorite genre to read for fun?
Absolutely! I especially love mysteries, biographies, and memoirs. Some favorite mystery authors include Tess Gerritsen, James Lee Burke, Sara Paretsky, Karen Slaughter, and Lisa Gardner. For nonfiction, I like the Malcolm Gladwell books and am fascinated at the way he researches and makes connections. I also enjoy biographies, whether everyday people, sports personalities, or American colonists. And, I enjoy children’s books too. Two of my favorites are Holes, for the creative plotline, and The Secret Garden, for the way the author makes her words dance when making the garden come alive.
As an editor, how do you keep current with industry changes?
My bookshelves overflow with editing and writing books. I attend classes through professional associations and online courses. Minneapolis has a large literary community including The Loft Literary Center.
For four years, I served on the Bloomington Literary Council, which connected me to authors, publishers, and readers. I also served on the Professional Editors Network board for four years, which allowed me to interact directly with many professional editors. I participated as a Mystery/Thriller category judge for the Midwest Independent Publishing Association’s 2018 annual book awards. In that role, I read and reviewed 16 novels averaging 400 pages each in a three-month period. It was amazing to read so many cool stories.
What Professional Associations do you belong to?
Professional Editors Network
How can authors get in touch with you?
To end on a light note, what is the most surprising thing about you?
In my travels, I’ve visited New Zealand, Mexico, Fiji, Hawaii, Roatan, Munich, Saint Lucia, and many other places, but I’ve never been to New York!
Thanks for sharing a little about your work.
Audiobook Promotions …
Many of my 42 audible titles are listed on Audiobooks Unleashed.
Whether you’re looking for mystery or suspense or fantasy, I’ve got a title for you. Free codes are probably on audiobooks unleashed.
Normal links go to audible. *The Amazon labeled links are affiliate links. That means I get a very small payment from Amazon if you go through with a purchase.*
Note: Filter by US if you’re looking for those codes as many titles are out.
Ones I think may still have US codes: Reshner’s Royal Ranger, Never Again, Innova, The Golden City Captives, The Holy War, Reclaim the Darklands, Eagle Eyes, Treachery Makes it Tense, Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts, The Dark Side of Science, Ashlynn’s Dreams, Nadia’s Tears, Malia’s Miracles, and Varick’s Quest
There are plenty of UK codes, but not many US ones left.
Redeemer Chronicles (Fantasy)
Awakening – Redeemer Chronicles Book 1, MG fantasy (Amazon) (free codes)
The Holy War – Redeemer Chronicles Book 2, MG fantasy (Amazon) (free codes)
Reclaim the Darklands – Redeemer Chronicles Book 3, MG fantasy (Amazon) (free codes)
River’s Edge Ransom – Prequel to Redeemer Chronicles (Amazon) (email devyaschildren @ gmail.com for free codes)
Devya’s Children Series Links:
Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian. (Amazon) (free codes)
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live. (Amazon) (Please email devyaschildren @ gmail.com for free codes)
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift. (Amazon) (free codes)
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma. (Amazon) (free codes)
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother. (Amazon) (free codes)
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble. (Amazon) (free codes)
Reshner’s Royal Ranger (epic sci-fi) just made it there. (Amazon) (free codes)
Guardian Angel Files:
Spirit’s Bane – Allister and Mina are training to be Guardians. Satan’s out to get them. (Amazon) (free codes)
Kindred Spirits – Mina’s exiled to Earth. Allister’s stuck in the Heavens. (Amazon) (free codes)