NYC (4)

August 11, 2015


If you know the days of the week, then you know it is unfortunately not Friday. But it is time for the next post in our BEYOND THE PAGE series!

This week, managing editor Kayla Overbey talks about throwing in the “managing” towel and editing THE AWAKENING, book #1 in YA horror series The Dark Rituals by Catrina Burgess.

Check out Kayla’s bio HERE, then read on about some serious inner conflict…

Serious questions that must be asked:

What are your top three favorite books?

That’s the worst and best question to ask a book lover. It changes all the time. Right now, I would say The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (intrigue! magic! romance! star-crossed destiny!), the Harry Potter series (because I grew up reading them and still have Harry Potter stuff decorating my room at 23 years old), and The Martian by Andy Wier (I stayed up super late reading it under my covers… I couldn’t put it down!).

You walk into the movie theater and head to the concession stand. What do you get? Popcorn, candy, or a pretzel?

Umm…none? I hate spending money at the movies. I rarely go to movie theaters at all anymore, actually. I would much rather watch them on my couch with my cat. 🙂

Name a modern gadget you can’t live without.

Probably the wireless Logitech mouse I have plugged into my laptop. Sometimes you just need a real mouse (not a touchpad) when you’re doing more detailed work—for instance, I sometimes typeset books (lay out the interior in InDesign for print) and I’ve always preferred using a mouse when designing.

What’s an object sitting on or by your desk?

I have a little wooden sign sitting on my desk that I’m very proud of. It says, “GO AWAY I’M READING” and every time I see it, I feel like a stingy librarian. Why I think that’s a good thing, I have no idea. It sits next to my Ministry of Magic mug.

Now, down to business:

Tell us a bit about the process of editing a story.

The Dark Rituals series is my first experience acting as the main editor for a story. I was an editor and writing consultant for two years at my university’s writing center, but editing English papers and Master’s dissertations is very different from editing a horror/paranormal young adult series.

I start at the beginning, trying not to get distracted by any grammar or sentence-structure issues. The content of the story (plot, character development, pacing, etc.) is much more important, but sadly, OCD grammarians like me feel the urge to fix everything immediately. So, usually I end up going back and forth. I’ll read a chapter or so, only touching the keyboard to leave a note or question where I think a content edit is needed. Then, I’ll go back and do some line edits, looking for paragraphs that need to be rearranged, sentences that seem out of character, and, of course, little grammar things.

I’m still learning as I go, so Samantha (our director here at FFFDig) also took a turn reading through and leaving some content edits (you’ll see her post about that in two weeks). I’m really glad she read through, because she caught some things I didn’t even think about! I guess a lesson any Wattpad writers could take from that is to get as many eyes on your story as possible before you publish. You never know what someone else will notice.

For instance, Cat has a couple writing habits that I started to see after finishing Awakening and moving on to its sequel, Possession. When writing, Cat tends to supplement describing Colina’s inner emotions with a physical reaction. The most common way she describes fear or anxiety, for example, is with the phrase “a chill ____.” That blank could be filled with “ran down my back,” or “crept down my spine,” or instead be “chilled my blood”…you see where I’m going. Long story short, she repeated that phrase a lot. However, I’m not pointing that out to critique Cat—actually, I’m really glad she did that. By using that phrase, Cat was able to write without getting stuck in little details. It helped her in the overall storytelling process.

Now that she’s finished the stories, it’s my job as an editor to go through the manuscript, identify those “ticks,” and help her replace them with something else. The “chill” phrases could be replaced with other reactions that convey fear and nervousness, like “my stomach dropped,” “my skin broke out in goose bumps,” “my hair raised,” etc.

Tell us your pet peeves as an editor.

It might be a good time to explain what Samantha mentioned a couple weeks ago: While I’m the main editor for Cat’s series (and some other upcoming books), my primary job at FFFDig is as the Managing Editor. Here’s a taste of what I do every day: I compile all the documents needed for the ebooks (think cover image; description paragraph; international, US, and library prices; author biography; genre categories; sale dates; and ebook files) and distribute them to our retailers, like iBooks and Amazon and Oyster. I take a book’s finished manuscript—which is usually a Word document—and build it into the file you buy and download to your ereader. If we want to sell a book in print, I’m the one who gets it ready to print. I also help with the FFF website and FFFDig Store by uploading all the files, setting the prices, linking to our retailers, and posting book reviews.

But my main task, and the job of every managing editor, is to keep an eye on all our upcoming books and make sure they’re moving smoothly through the publication process. Basically, I’m the person nagging at the editors and designers, saying, “This is due! Where is it?!”

So, sometimes I feel conflicted. The managing editor part of me is taking care of odds and ends across the company, all the while saying, “Hurry up! Why isn’t your writer emailing back? Where is this draft? Why isn’t this done yet?” And the creative editor part of me is arguing back, saying, “Don’t stifle my author! She/he needs space to breathe, write, and create. Don’t stress! A little tardiness is a-okay.”

How does that translate into a pet peeve? Well, I get peeved at myself for taking too long to read and comment on a draft. I get antsy when I don’t hear back from a writer promptly. I get self-conscious when I have to be the bad guy holding a deadline over someone else’s head (but, hey, that is my job).

But, even with all the inner conflict I have to hide away, I wouldn’t trade my dual editor/managing editor role for anything.

Stay tuned next week when Cat comes back to tell us how she avoids murdering Kayla when she receives all these edits…


Ever wonder what happens after you sign with a publishing house? Catrina Burgess, author of The Dark Rituals series coming this October, has convinced us to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how a manuscript becomes a finished book. Tune in every Tuesday for a new installment, and check out the series on the author’s blog at!

Catch up here:

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