Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tessa Shapcott, Editor and Author

Today we welcome, Tessa Shapcott to the blog. Tessa will be busy with industry interviews later this week at our annual conference. We grabbed the chance to chat to her before she set off to Telford.
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the blog, Tessa.
Thanks for the opportunity!
Can you tell us something of your working life before you set up your own agency?
Coming from a family of journalists I knew I wanted to do something that involved communication and words and so, after leaving university, I joined the publishing industry, starting on the bottom rung as personal assistant to a literary agent, which was a great grounding experience. From there, I moved into children’s books, working on young adult fiction.  Then, I was thrilled when I was hired as an editor for iconic romantic fiction publishers, Harlequin Mills and Boon, where I stayed for 25 years. During that time, I led Mills & Boon’s best-selling series, Modern/Presents, and later the series editorial team as Senior Executive Editor. Working for M&B was brilliant in so many ways, and I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity.
How can an editor help a writer who is following the traditional route to publication?
By working as a team with the writer, and acting as an intermediary for her with all the services a publishing house has to offer—including marketing and PR and rights and contracts. A good editor will coach, mentor and support the writer to produce the best books possible and also to develop her writing, by giving constructive, honest feedback that helps her to enhance her strengths and work on her weaknesses. The editor can also assist the writer in plotting her career with a strategic plan to package her books, build her profile and grow her readership, and by giving advice on industry developments.

With so many authors choosing to self-publish, whether it be with their back catalogues or with new work, how can an editor work with the writer to produce a good book?
An indie editor can offer a writer who chooses to self-publish similar services as an editor for a traditional house in terms of coaching, mentoring and support. Self-publishing is great for those authors who relish independence, self-determination and self-promotion, but even they can benefit from another eye and a friendly ear, whether it be for developmental/content advice, text modernisation, continuity line-editing and copy-editing, or even just someone with whom to brainstorm ideas!  One of the secrets to success in self-publishing is having as much material available for downloading as possible, so an indie editor can be invaluable in helping to create writing plans for the production of multiple books, schedules for story execution and developing creative strategies for series and linked titles and for targeting readerships. 

What is the biggest mistake an author can make?
Romance is a genre comprised of many sub-genres, and readers know what they what they like, so editors and publishers do tend to look to extend those genres with complimentary voices. Therefore, it’s easy for aspiring writers to feel they must try and deliver more of exactly the same.  But the key to success is finding your own unique voice and using it to bring the conventions of the genre to life in your own special way.  Resist the temptation to clone!
Do you write novels or have you been tempted to put pen to paper?
I do write novels, under the pen name of Joanne Walsh.  It was a long-held ambition of mine that had to wait until I went freelance, but I’m so glad that I finally made the leap!  I love writing and losing myself in creating worlds and characters, and have recently experienced the excitement and satisfaction of publication: my first novella—THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE—was published at the end of April by Tule in their Montana Born series.  My second novel, A WIFE IN EVERY SENSE, will be out with Entangled Indulgence at the end of this month, and I am hard at work on another novella for Tule, a Christmas story that will be in their Holiday series in October.
How do you relax when not working?
Spending time with my partner and with friends; walking, cooking and eating, and browsing in flea markets and charity shops for bric-a-brac and vintage clothes which I like to renovate.  Also, my partner has a motorbike, so I enjoy riding pillion with him along the south coast.
Freelance editing services: tessashapcott.com
Writer: joannewalshwriter.com
Thank you so much, Tessa, for finding time in your busy schedule to chat with us.
This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.
If you would like to write something for the RNA blog please contact us on: elaineeverest@aol.com

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