Today I’m talking with editor, CM Taylor, to get his insight into the publishing industry.
I took a look at your website and I see medals hanging off the light in your work space. Am I right they are for running?
I’ve run a few half marathons but those days are behind me due to the increasing training pain and time commitments. What sort of distances have you got up to?
I run half marathons. I enter half marathons in order to blackmail myself into training, because if I don’t enter them, I don’t train. The half seems like a good distance. Anything more strikes me as unhealthy, anything less and you might just turn up and waddle round with no training.
I used to run road races, but in the last three years I’ve moved onto track races as I enjoy running in nature. I run on the Ridgeway which is an ancient path near where I live. I don’t listen to music. I run on my own. It is solace and escape.
What else do you do when you’re not working or earning medals for sport?
What I love doing, when I have spare time, is taking my daughters out canoeing. We’ve got a big canoe – 16 foot – and with some clever packing we manage to get all our camping gear and all the family in, and we go off for days down rivers, camping on the way. We’ve done the Thames, the Great Ouse, the Wye. It’s the best.
How did you start out in the literary / publishing world?
Well, I spent years trying to write novels and not being very good, but gradually I learned and finally I got a book published by small press and got going that way. It is quite a normal way of starting, I think.
Can you tell me about the editing services you provide?
Yeah sure, I work with a company called prepared to publish.
We work mainly for publishers, but sometimes private individuals, and we do structural edits, line edits, copy edits, proofing, typesetting. Basically, whatever you want, we can do it. We will have edited about 50 books for publishers in 2018. We had three books on the Guardian’s ‘not the Booker prize’ list.
We mainly employ writers to work for us as freelancers, because not only can they see the problems but they can diagnose the solutions. They know how to fix it, not just complain. They are very thorough and they care.
If you could choose one common mistake in manuscripts that you could wipe out forever, one that really annoys you, what would it be?
Very often I see people applying the point of view grammar of television or film to the art of the novel. The novel has a distinct point of view system and people very often just write a TV program that happens to be in prose, which undercuts the unique power and beauty of the novel – the offering of human closeness and the moment-by-moment contact with another’s mind.
If you make a big point of view mistake it can be the hardest thing to fix, and it is something I see very often.
Do you ever receive an author / manuscript and think how the hell did this get past the gatekeepers?
Whatever work I take on it is my job to improve it according to the author’s intentions and in line with their current ability.
Which do you prefer, writing your own work, editing your own or editing other people’s work?
When a novel I am editing is excellent, say it’s a debut, and the writer learns quickly and is fully engaged and you can see the fireworks going off in their head, that can be great fun.
When you see a writer applying the lessons that you learnt via long, hard years of practice to their own manuscript, and you see that you’re saving people time and leading them towards making their work better, it is enormously satisfying.
Also, editing is good to hide in when your own work is too difficult. But, when you have a good stretch of time and your fingers and brain are working together and you know what you want to say, nothing beats writing your own work.
How much time do you get to do your own writing and are you working on anything now?
I don’t get much time to do my own speculative work. I have to fight to make it. But I am very slowly approaching a new novel now, which I am not ready to talk about.
I am also working on two film scripts which I have been commissioned to write. And I am developing a TV pilot. I’m afraid I’m not at too much liberty to talk about these things for the moment.
Does your work need editing when you think it’s finished, despite your own skill in the field i.e. does most complex writing need a second and separate eye to make it shine?
I think the more I edit the better I become at judging my writing, in that I am able to see my manuscript as though it were somebody else’s. But I will always need an editor, for sure. Editors stop you looking stupid. They are the mirror that lets you see your own arse.
Can you tell me about the novel you’ve recently released?
Sure. The book is called Staying On, published by Duckworth. We are calling it ‘a geriatric coming-of-age story’. We’ve been getting amazing reviews actually – very, very touching.
Are you involved in the marketing and promotion of the book?
Yes, I am involved in marketing and promotion. I have written a number of articles to promote it and done some events and some radio. I think any author has to pitch in and pull their weight where they can these days.
What would you say was your biggest challenge in producing the novel?
Time. I am raising two daughters and running an editorial business and I teach writing and I lecture at university and am establishing a career as a scriptwriter, so finding time for the novels is hard, and of course I have to find time to be a human and a friend and a husband. I work hard and there’s always the tendency to prioritise other people’s work which pays me in a stable way, rather than the more speculative ventures of my own creation.
Thank you CM Taylor for joining me today. Staying On is available to buy from Amazon now.
If you enjoyed this interview then why not subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of every article I post. I regularly interview authors and those in the publishing industry, along with providing an insight into my own experiences as I publish and promote my debut novel, In The End, an apocalyptic thriller that will leave you breathless and is available to buy now.
A final note – If you’re ready this in December 2018 and have a moment to spare, please can you take a second to vote for my novel’s cover by clicking here and pressing the vote button! Thank you.