Thank you Mr. Rhamey for coming by. Its a great pleasure to have you here today. I hope our readers will stop in and ask a lot of questions, maybe post a paragraph or two of their current project to get some fresh insight.
"Thank you for having me."
1. How long have you been part of the industry?
In the sense that I’ve devoured novels since I was a boy, virtually a lifetime. My first interest in publishing sparked when I graduated from college. But I had a degree in psychology, was in Texas, and had a family that I needed to support--I couldn’t figure out how to get into publishing. So I left that ambition behind.
Dissolve to decades later when my advertising career had pretty much run its course due to ageism and economic downturn. I had been writing novels and was a member of a critique group. Based on what I did in our weekly sessions, two members separately asked me to edit their novels. They found what I did to be very helpful.
You should understand that I had a long career in advertising as a creative director, which has a huge editorial function—copy has to be succinct and every word effective. Kinda hones your sense for how language works to affect a reader.
I found an online editorial service that contracted with editors for manuscripts. Very low rates, and they took a big cut. But I passed their qualifying test edit and did that for a couple of years. Some of the testimonials by the writers I edited are on my website at http://www.ftqpress.com/html/testimonials.html.
Encouraged by that, I started my on online editing service in 2001. I began my blog, Flogging the Quill, in 2005.
2. Why did you pick editing?
Editing picked me via the critique group when my high-level talent for it showed up. I’ve always had a knack for the English language—my college English teacher tried to recruit me to be an English major, and my years in advertising honed my natural understanding of how a narrative can work best.
And I enjoy editing. I work to keep the writer’s voice and develop it while improving the flow and pace of the narrative and the structure of the story. It’s like a gigantic puzzle, in a way, in which thousands of little pieces have to go together in the right way to deliver a compelling story. I like that challenge.
3. Your site, Flogging the Quill, has grown in the past few years. Where do you see it growing next?
I have no idea. About three years ago it evolved from posts about writing to primarily critiques of opening pages. That has seemed valuable to readers, it’s fun to do, it helps writers, so I plan to keep doing that for a while.
4. What genre do you find the most interesting?
As a reader, thrillers and suspense novels. As a youth, I read hundreds of science fiction and western novels as well, and my current writing incorporates aspects of all of those genres. I like mysteries, and have read romance novels that I liked. I’m a commercial fiction reader, and sometimes don’t have the patience for what I’ve seen deemed literary novels.
5. What's one of your pet peeves?
Manuscripts that don’t start with the story, which usually means pages of “info dump” exposition or a flashback. Many agents and editors will tell you that they frequently come across manuscripts that don’t really get started until about chapter three.
That happened to me in a critique group. When we came to chapter three of one novel, one member said, “Your story starts here.” He was right. I scrapped the two chapters and the opening was much better.
6. You've got several books of your own; do you find it harder to be an author than an editor?
No, they are very different aspects of being creative. Editing is much more analytical in nature, and, luckily, that appeals to me and I seem to have an ability for it. But my career started in the creative side in advertising, and I love to just do that. I not only write novels, but design the covers and interiors as well (a service I now offer to self-publishers at my website, ftqpress.com).
My current focus is on building my Indie publishing business, offering editorial and design services to authors who want to self-publish, and getting my own novels out there. I have three available in ebook formats, and two of them are also out in paperback. There are samples and info about them at ftqpress.com.
7. What's one thing that you would tell a writer is key to finding success?
The story is the thing. You have to have professional-caliber writing just to get in the door. As agent Kristin Nelson says, “Good writing isn’t enough.” I worked on screenwriting for a few years and mastered the format—I could write a strong screenplay that agents and producers found to be professional. But what I didn’t do was come up with a story that motivated a producer and investors to put up a few million dollars to produce. That’s what you’re asking when you submit a manuscript—for an agent to invest her time and for a publisher to invest his money to produce a story. That story is what takes you to publication, not your writing.