Editor Marion Archer
Marion has been my editor for the past six months and I have to say she was a Godsend. I have no idea how we ended up connected, but I praise the heavens every time I release a book. She is not only a master as grammar, but she has a way of twisting words to make things fresh. Thanks Marion for putting up with my bad habits.
Marion, what influenced you to become an editor?
This is actually a funny story. I had never intended to be an editor. I became ill with Chronic Fatigue in February 2011. For the first year to eighteen months, I was unable to do anything other than read. I made contact via email with one of the authors I loved, and she asked me to join her Facebook group. (I cringed initially because I was not a frequent Facebook flyer.) However, long story short, I joined her group, met some lovely friends, joined a smaller group, was recruited to review for a blogger within that group, and there began my reviewing journey. Shortly after, Ruth Cardello asked me to beta read for her. Then, Katie Ashley approached me to provide more ‘emo’ to a previously written story. After a few short months, I had worked with Colleen Hoover, Ruth Cardello, Julie Prestsater and Katie Ashley, and my name started to spread. Raine Miller, who by this point had become a close friend, again via Facebook, suggested I create a website. No sooner had I pressed enter, Nyrae Dawn approached me to work with her, but to work more on line edits. This was completely new territory for me, and in particular, US grammar and punctuation. Although comfortable with my skills to provide emotional depth to a story, this terrified me. I wasn’t an English superstar, so it has been a sharp and continual learning curve over the last two years. The rest, as they say, is history. However, I feel incredibly blessed to do what I do, and extremely thankful for the trust given me, and the wonderful friendships made.
I’ve often wondered why you don’t write a book yourself. Your skills are remarkable and your mind runs on some kind of super juice. If you were to write a book, what genre would you choose?
Ha! The number of authors who have asked me this! You are very kind. Super juice? Hmmm, if I were to write, it would be a romantic suspense. I am now addicted to romance, and prior to 2011, action, suspense and thrillers were more my typical read.
I was a dental assistant and became an author. What is your background?
I studied Japanese and Linguistics at University, many years ago. However, I worked in a customer service role for Diners Club International for a few years. After my fourth child turned one, I became a Tupperware manager, and did that for six years.
I’m a huge advocate for learning craft and as you know I drown myself in classes and books. If there were one book on craft you would recommend to a fledgling writer, what would it be?
That’s a tricky one because I haven’t read any myself. I do regularly study from grammar sites though, and feel a subscription to Chicago Manual of Style is a good start for grammar and punctuation rules. Also, quickanddirtytips.com and grammar.ccc.commnet.edu are fabulous links for finding quick answers and giving the reason behind writing style queries. I tend to suggest authors simply read, read, read. As you know, Kel, there have been authors I have recommended to you because of writing style, because invariably, authors learn most from seeing examples of what they wish to emulate.
Can you tell right away if a book will be a bestseller? If so, is it a feeling or do you believe the writer has mastered the process?
I don’t think you can ever predict if a book will be a best seller, in as much as, particularly in the Indy world of publishing, initial ‘best selling’ sales are often determined by social media connections, author popularity, and the starting price. However, I certainly have worked on several books where I have experienced that gut feeling it will become a best seller. Colleen Hoover’s Maybe Someday, then Ugly Love, Alessandra Torre’s Black Lies, Katie Ashley’s Music of the Heart, and Mia Sheridan’s Kyland. It is hard to describe. Is it the writing ability? The story? The prose? The author? I think it can be a number of factors, but I do recall believing they were going to do very well. Primarily because of my reaction to them. So, I guess you could call that a feeling.
Many people believe good writing is formulaic. How do you feel about that?
Wow. Talk about an ambiguous question. To a certain extent, yes. In some respects, this could largely be determined by the reader. For some readers, formulaic writing is just what they need/desire at that time. For most genre, a formula is followed and is standard. I.e. An easy, predictable escape with little effort required. Little effort by the reader, that is. The author, however, will have honed discrete skills in methodology to create what seems simple. However, for some, books that step outside of the expected and predictable formula are welcome. Just like any artistic ability, the basic and rudimentary skills of writing need to be learned, practiced, and strengthened so that when the author desires to move away from formulaic composition, their strong foundation allows them to create more individual expression successfully.
What makes the writing good though? I don’t believe it is simply following a formula, but I do feel some authors have the ability without years of technical training, but they are rare. Most good writers are the ones who are avid readers first, study their craft with intention, and are willing to put in the hard yards.
You’re an Australian, how does that play into your editing style?
Australians are mostly known for their relaxed nature. I think I bring that to my editing. I can poke fun at myself easily, and like my authors to feel encouraged as they read through my edits. I try to make my edits unobtrusive, fun, and challenging. Like most Australians, I am not one to offer false platitudes, so I guess that contributes to my determination to always be honest.
What does Marion do for fun?
Would you believe I read? Ha! It’s true. I love to read. I love to spend time with my family and friends, see movies, go for coffee, and play sport. I have always been a keen sportswoman, and currently play netball, swim a few kilometers weekly, and walk on my TreadClimber.
You are exposed to so many different works. If you could meet one author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Hmmm – that is tricky. I am not your typical fan, as I don’t do fangirl. I have yet to meet all the authors I work for, so obviously that would be my strongest desire. If meeting a specific author involved sitting down and chatting, as opposed to standing by them and just having my picture taken with them I think it would be a toss up between Diana Gabaldon, Francine Rivers, and Clive Cussler. Being prolific writers, yet of completely different genre, I would be keen to understand how they research their books, who has inspired them as authors, and who in their life has been their biggest advocate.
I love to travel and will be doing a lot of it this year. What is your fantasy vacation?
I have been extremely fortunate to travel to many countries in the world. For me, travel has always been more about the people I meet as opposed to the location I travel to. So, the where would be somewhere tropical with a beautiful pool, deck chairs, excellent wine, my Kindle (and its charger), and great company.