Deb Harris, Editor-in-Chief of All Things That Matter Press, has been in love with words and books since early childhood. She’s also a believer in giving people a chance. All Things That Matter Press was born of the desire to allow promising new authors an opportunity to share their “Self” with the world.
Deb, whose prior career involved many years of work as a paralegal and legal transcriptionist/proofer/editor, and her multi-published author husband, Phil, lived for fifteen years in very upstate New York in a home they built themselves, totally off the grid, relying on solar and wind power. There, they raised vegetables, horses, and dairy goats, canning and preserving much of their own food, as well as making their own cheeses, butter, and soap. Now they raise books.
A Maine native, Deb spends her days at the computer, occasionally taking a moment to look out at the horses in their pasture, and surrounded by indoor critters as well: three dogs, a cat, 4 birds, and a fish.
Welcome Deb Harris.
1. Not only is Marvin one of the authors in your stable, he edits for other authors at All Things That Matter Press. What is he like as an editor and why would an editor need you, another editor, to edit his book?
I trust Marvin’s editing. He’s very meticulous (and being a nit-picker myself, I admire that quality), and able to work simultaneously on all of the necessary levels, not just the “does the comma go here” mechanics.2. The editing that you do is the last level of editing before publication. If an author feels strongly about something that you recommend cutting or changing, should the author fight for his/her viewpoint, give in and change, or present a compromise? If they refuse to change, would that affect the relationship?
Marvin and I agree that no author is capable of completely editing his/her own work. The mind sees what the mind knows the mind meant! And, while a manuscript may be mechanically perfect, or close to, just about every author has little “pet phrases” and/or writing habits that are often, and always unintentionally, overused. For instance, one of our authors (not Marvin, in this particular case) used a certain phrase over 400 times in a less than 300 page manuscript and was astonished that he’d done so. These things are almost always invisible to the author, since they tend to be ingrained writing habits or personal ways of speaking, but they jump out at that other set of eyes.
You know what? If I find I need another doormat, I’ll go to Wal-Mart. Absolutely I want my authors to present their viewpoints. I didn’t write the book, s/he did. I try to be as flexible as possible in the editing process, always keeping in mind the ultimate goal: to have the best finished product possible. The vast majority of my editing comments, other than punctuation issues, include “How about if we …,” or “What do you think about ….” If an author feels strongly about something, unless it is so grossly incorrect that there can be no “give,” we let the author decide. This is a partnership, a collaborative effort between publisher and author. We’ve been very fortunate that our authors all tend to be reasonable people who also want their books to be as perfect as we can collectively make them. I can’t think of a single instance where an author and I have disagreed and it’s affected my perception of the relationship. Obviously, I can’t speak for how the author feels on that subject.3. How did Marvin handle the corrections or changes you recommended?
Like the true professional he is, albeit with a little grumbling and grousing. Marvin’s goal is the same as ours: perfection.4. How do you choose the books to publish? Are you open to certain genres or is it the writing that matters most, no matter the genre? What was it about Marvin’s book that made you decide to publish it?
We’re open to anything except sex-for-the-sake-of-sex, pornography, racial bigotry, religious bigotry, push-a-particular-religion-down-your-throat, and/or hate-driven books. We’re not particularly into children’s books or YA, although we’ll look at them. Other than that, we’re all across the board, which makes it a lot of fun.5. What about Marvin makes him stand out as an author? His writing? His willingness to promote his books? His enthusiasm?
One of us has to like it. That’s the basic decider. Not everyone likes the same genres, so I’m fortunate to have a great crew of submission editors to review things that aren’t my personal cup of tea. Sometimes it’s a decision by committee. And, while the quality of the writing most definitely matters, we strive to look beyond “the edit” to the heart, and are willing to work with promising authors who are willing to work hard with us.
A book has to grab and hold our attention, whatever the genre. Have something to say, and say it from a different angle. Take a fresh approach. Don’t write by formula, and don’t try to write like someone you’re not. Write like you. Make me want to cancel my dentist appointment to finish reading your manuscript.
I decided to publish Marvin’s book because it’s good! Of course, the bribe he sent didn’t hurt, either.
Everything about Marvin stands out, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now. I love his off-the-wall kind of backdoor approach to getting his messages across by hiding them in his stories. Marvin’s books can be read for pure entertainment or for the thought-provoking insights he provides. It doesn’t hurt that he writes well, either, and his love for his craft shines through in every word.Thank you very much, Ms. Harris!
To find out more about Deb Harris, visit All Things That Matter Press. And to find out more about Marvin Wilson, visit his blog, The Old Silly’s Free Spirit or catch him on Twitter.
Tomorrow, Marvin will be visiting Lacresha Hayes blog. There are only two days left on Marvin’s tour, so be sure to visit his Contest and Prizes page, too.
But before you do all that, leave a comment or question for Marvin Wilson or Deb Harris.