Monday, October 12, 2009

Interview with Editor Sally Bradley

Today we are interviewing Editor Sally Bradley.

Sally Bradley has worked for two Christian publishers, writing sales and marketing materials, sorting through the slush pile, and proofreading and editing fiction. She has a BA in English and a love for perfecting novels, whether it’s her own work or the work of others. A judge in fiction-writing contests, Sally is a member of ACFW, The Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network), and the Christian Editor Network. She’s a work-at-home mother of three and is married to a pastor who moonlights as a small-town cop.

Sally took a few minutes to talk about editing with Writing Career Coach.

Writing Career Coach: How did you get started with editing?
Sally Bradley: Straight from college, I worked for Tyndale House Publishers. I created the sales sheets the entire staff used to sell every new product. The editorial department sent me information on a new book, and I’d create a short book blurb, an author bio, a list of potential markets, things like that. That was a great foundation for learning how to create hooks in a proposal.

I left Tyndale when my husband and I moved out of state for him to attend seminary. The church that ran the seminary started a small fiction publishing company, and I proofread and edited a number of books as well as sorted through the slush pile there. Sadly the company no longer exists because they had no sales or marketing department. It’s awfully hard for people to buy a book they don’t know exists.

I left that job to have my first child, and my goal at that point was to become a published novelist. I spent the next six years writing and studying the craft. I spent almost half a year studying how to write a synopsis and proposal, and the proposal I wrote garnered an offer of representation from two reputable agents.

About that same time, I began to consider opening my own freelancing business. A friend from church asked me to read over an essay for grad school applications. She was having a hard time getting it to word count, and I showed her a number of changes that made it concise and below word count. It was at that point that I realized how much I loved words and that this was a job I needed to do.

My friend got into her dream grad school, by the way. :)
WCC: What type of editing do you do?
SB: I work mostly with fiction. I love diving into a story and finding ways to make it (and the writer) stronger.
I will customize my work to fit whatever a client needs, but most of my work involves looking at the big picture of a novel--plot, characters, setting, story structure, opening hook, etc.--and seeing what works, what needs some help, any areas where the story can be tied together better, anything that will make the structure of the book itself strong and more appealing to publishers and agents.
In addition to critiquing the big picture, I offer line editing where I do my best to make the actual prose more polished and professional. This involves deleting unnecessary words, identifying pet phrases, fixing awkward wording, and other little details that make a book sing. I'll even mark any misspelled words and grammar and punctuation problems I find.

WCC: What is one consistent issue you see in the manuscripts you edit?
SB: There are a few I see routinely, but the most consistent problem is telling instead of showing.

Telling isn’t evil; there is a time and a place for it, but it should never be the main action of the story. Fiction readers want to experience the story happening right in front of them through dialogue and action. They don’t want to have it summarized as if they were hearing about it from another person. Think of it this way—would you rather watch a movie or hear about it from someone else? Writers need to make sure the reader is watching the action happen.

Read more of Sally’s interview here at and find out what the best resources are on writing well.

The Writing Career Coach blog is moving! In order to offer you more services and a central location for all information I am moving this blog to our main website: There you will find the blog, information on my speaking topics, FREE articles to help you with your writing and more.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at
Tiffany is a speaker and teacher. Find out about available topics for your group’s next event.
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Learn more about Tiffany’s Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Common-sense money management is free at The Balanced Life website.
Read Tiffany’s award winning manuscript “A Face in the Shadow” on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer’s Rest.


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Read Tiffany’s award winning manuscript write dissertation “A Face in the Shadow” on her fiction blog.

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