Behind the Book Interviews: Janelle Leonard – Managing Editor

As you can probably imagine, writing books is a pretty solitary task. The publishing of books, however, definitely isn’t. There are so many people behind the scenes turning the words I write into the books you hold, from editors to proofreaders to cover designers and the publishers themselves (among others!).

If you’ve read the Acknowledgements pages in my books, you’ll likely recognise their names, but I thought it might also be fun to interview some of them and introduce you to the amazing team I have the privilege of working with.

First up, we have Janelle Leonard, WhiteFire’s Managing Editor. Janelle had a hand in the editorial process of all three of my Daughters of Peverell books, and I’m thrilled to be working with her again on my upcoming series.

So, Janelle, before we get into the hard questions (ha!), let’s start with an easy(ish) one. What are FIVE words you’d use to describe yourself:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Awkward
  • Quirky
  • Caffeinated
  • Random

Ha! Yep, I’d agree with those. Especially the enthusiastic one 🙂

You’re an editor at WhiteFire Publishing. What does that look like day to day? Or, if it’s easier, what kinds of work does that involve?

I’m the Managing Editor at WhiteFire, and therefore the mediator between authors and editors. I line up editors for each round (Developmental, Line, Proofreading), correspond with authors, do some editing myself, and ultimately make sure we’re on track with the release schedule.

What is your favorite part of the editing process?

I love seeing authors find a new excitement for their story after I’ve shared my thoughts/edits, and working alongside authors to make their stories SHINE as brightly as possible. It’s so much fun to bounce ideas and spark things that the author never thought about.

I can vouch for that. It’s fun, and incredibly helpful, for the authors too!

My FAVORITE part is proofreading. It’s like a treasure hunt, trying to find typos and grammar issues that have slipped by other readers. I know I won’t catch everything, but I enjoy trying to find as many as I can.

Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to editing?

  • Too many exclamation points and ellipses . . . !!!! 😊
  • Novels that read like screenplays.  
  • 2 spaces after a period—when done on purpose. 

(Note to self, don’t do these things. Must keep my editor happy…)

Do you have a favorite book (or series) that you could never get sick of no matter how many times you read it?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I read or listen (or watch) Pride and Prejudice at least 5 times a year. I love the witty writing and dialogue, the character growth and relationships, and Mr. Darcy.

Ooh! Me too! Such a brilliant book. (Although I don’t read it quite that many times a year.)
Okay, along the same kind of lines, if you could spend a day inside any fictional world—with the certainty you’d come back alive—where would you go?

Narnia—I always wanted to travel there as a kid.

That would be pretty cool. With you being both a writer and an editor (oh, did I mention Janelle is a writer too? Can’t wait to have her published books on my shelves one day!), I have to ask . . . If you could give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?

Your value (worth) doesn’t lie in your words. Don’t take editing personally—they aren’t cutting, hacking, disliking, or rearranging you. Even though, yes, it does feel like that at times. (I wish I had learned that earlier in my writing journey). Good editors are there to help you mine for gold. Be open to changing things even if it’s your favorite scene EVER! What you come up with to replace that fav scene might just be ten times better.

TIP: When you get edits back, make a list of what needs to be done from quick fixes to large, plot-changing things. It helps to organize—cuts down on feeling so overwhelmed.

“Done is better than perfect.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Oh man, such a great quote (and advice). I need to remember this!

While we’re on the topic of writing, do you have any unusual writing or editing quirks?

I like to listen to the manuscript while I edit. Hearing Word read without inflection (and sometimes the wrong pronunciation) is extremely amusing. It helps me to catch typos—seeing and HEARING the words—and helps with plot and dialogue and overall flow of the writing.

Whenever I get a new idea, I have to write in a clean notebook. It’s hard for me to just sit and type. Also, a gel pen (preferably purple ink) is a must.  

Purple ink 😀 😀 😀 Happy, smiley me. Speaking of which, what’s something that always makes you smile?

  • Meeting a fellow author or book lover.
  • Talking about books.

Okay, final question, just for fun… if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I would love to be able to speak/understand every language.

And there you have it, a look behind the book and into the world of Janelle Leonard, Managing Editor at WhiteFire Publishing. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. Many thanks to Janelle for taking the time to answer my questions 🙂

If you’d like to hear more from Janelle, or follow her book-related shenanigans (which may or may not involve her dressing up in many crazy costumes), check out her Instagram page. Believe me, it’s as much fun as she is.

Keep a lookout for more Behind the Book interviews coming soon!

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