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Interview: BC9 Editor Rose Fox

This post begins a series of interviews with the people who helped me publish Beyond Cloud Nine. First up is Rose Jasper Fox (The Copymancer), the editor whose insights helped me take the book from good to great. I asked Rose a few questions about working on BC9, being an editor, and life in general.

What was your favorite aspect of working on Beyond Cloud Nine?

I really admired the care and precision with which you (the author) approached the editing process. Your communication with me was always crystal-clear, and you obviously had a very strong vision for the book that could withstand comments on how well you were expressing that vision to the reader.

What motivated you to become an editor?

My parents are authors, so this is either my genetic destiny or my ongoing adolescent rebellion, depending on how you look at it.

In all seriousness, I have never felt motivated to become an editor; I have always been an editor, someone who notices problems and wants to fix them. I feel very fortunate that people pay me to basically be myself. If I didn't have to pay rent, I'd still be in this business just for the satisfaction of adjusting misplaced commas and stitching up plot holes.

How did you come up with the name "The Copymancer?"

My friend C.C. Finlay, who's a wonderfully talented author, came up with it one night on Twitter. I was quoting from a Diane Duane novel, The Door into Fire, that has some eloquent descriptions of sorcery, and jokingly replaced "sorcery" with "editing" in a few places. ("To work successful editing one must first know with great certainty what he wants, and why.") Charlie responded and tagged his tweet "#copymancy", and I immediately registered the domain name.

Here's the passage that made me seriously wonder whether she based the sorcerer character, Herewiss, on an editor of her acquaintance:

"Sorcery, like all the other arts, is primarily involved with the satisfaction of one's own needs. Though a sorcerer may mend a pot or raise a storm or set a king on his throne with someone else's benefit in mind, still he is first serving his own needs, his own joys or fears or sorrows. To work successful sorcery one must first know with great certainty what he wants, and why. Otherwise the dark secretive depths of his mind may take the unleashed forces and use them for something rather different than what he thinks he wants. In addition, sorcery is affected by how completely the sorcerer's needs are filled before he begins -- whether he's hungry or tired, secure in his place in life, whether he is loved or has someone to love. It's easy for a hungry sorcerer to find food by his art, since the need fuels his skill. But it's much harder for that same starving sorcerer to, say, open death's Door and sojourn in the places past it. And only the mightiest of sorcerers could manage to conjure powers or potentialities if he hadn't eaten for a week, or felt that his life was in danger for some reason. Sorcery is ridiculously easy to sabotage. Beat your sorcerer, frighten him, deprive him of food, ruin his love life -- destroy one of his fulfillments, and he'll be lucky to be able to dowse for water. So Herewiss sat there in the grass, as the Sun went down and the thunderclouds rolled in, and strove to shut out all external things and evaluate his inner self."

One of the things I love about Duane's writing on magic is that it's mysterious from the outside but quite prosaic from within. Editing is much the same.

How does life as a freelance entrepreneur differ from working for an employer (assuming you’ve done the latter in the past)?

I do both, actually! Since 2007, I've been a part-time reviews editor for Publishers Weekly. I edit the reviews of SF, fantasy, horror, romance, and erotica, and also co-host PW's weekly radio show. About three quarters of my work time is spent on PW work. The rest of the time I freelance. To avoid conflicts of interest, if a book I've edited is submitted to PW for review consideration, and it's in a category I would usually handle, I ask another editor to assign and edit the review. (So I know that you submitted Beyond Cloud Nine, but I immediately handed it off to one of my colleagues, so I couldn't tell you anything about whether, when, or how positively it might be reviewed.)

I really like the balance of freelancing and employment. I get to do very different kinds of work, though they play off of each other; my freelance clients benefit from my wide knowledge of what's being published right now and my deep familiarity with the genres I cover, and my PW work benefits from my connections to the rapidly changing world of self-publishing. The variety keeps me happy and excited about all my work--I'm never bored! I get the financial comfort of a steady paycheck, which gives me room to turn down clients who aren't a good fit and experiment (sometimes unsuccessfully) with new ways of expanding my freelance work. I also get the security that comes from knowing I have a solid freelance business to fall back on should the job ever go away. And I get complicated taxes, but that's every freelancer's curse, job or no job.

What do you do when you're not working (hobbies)?

I spend time with my two marvelous spouses, Xtina and Josh, and our three cats in our gorgeous house in Crown Heights. Josh and I like to cook elaborate meals and go for long walks, and X and I often watch movies and knit. I do weight training; it started as a way to recover from injury and now I'm totally hooked on pumping iron. I play puzzle games and speed games and resource management games--basically anything that doesn't involve shooting. I spend a great deal of time on Twitter (I'm @rosefox there). I'm currently learning to read Japanese kanji through a great self-study site called WaniKani; languages are generally a hobby of mine, and after I'm done with Japanese I might go back to French or Russian or Irish, or pick up something new. And of course I read, though not as much as I used to. Working with books all day sometimes makes it hard to pick them up at night. But there's still nothing that compares to the pleasure of being blown away by a really marvelous book.

Use the following link to find out more about Rose and the freelance editorial services provided by this amazing editor.

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