Editor Profile – Flannery Winchester

Hi Everyone,

I was asked if I would do something different for a change so here is my first ever Editor Profile!

Please welcome Flannery Winchester!

Flannery Winchester

Flannery Winchester

Editor Bio: My name is Flannery Winchester, and I’m a freelance editor. I graduated summa cum laude from the College of Charleston Honors College with a degree in English, and I have worked in editorial roles for several publishing houses and magazine publications. I live in Atlanta with my soon-to-be husband and our little puppy, Phoebe.

Length of experience: Four years.

Services offered: Copyediting, developmental editing,

Editor Links: www.TheWordWeeder.wordpress.com


Mini Interview:

1        When did you first start editing?  

I have been editing casually for about four years, and I decided to pursue it as a career about a year ago.

2        Did you always want to be an editor? If not what did you want to be?

Yes! I have always been an avid reader, so I knew that a career with books was in my future in some capacity. Then, during my years in school, my friends constantly brought me their papers to read through and improve because they knew I both enjoyed it and had a knack for it. At that point, I realized my niche would be in editing. 

3        Which genre/s do you prefer to edit? Why?

I love editing fantasy. It’s one of my favorite genres to read because it allows for so many creative possibilities, so I consider it a personal treat to get a sneak peak at as-yet-unpublished fantasy worlds and characters!

4        Why did you start freelance editing?

I created my website because, after editing a few manuscripts for friends, I realized there was a need in the market that nobody was meeting—there market already contained freelance editors, certainly, but there were also huge numbers of authors who couldn’t afford them. Realistically, how many people can fork over $2,000 for a single editing job? I wanted to connect with dedicated, passionate authors and provide them with an affordable alternative.

5        What has your experience been like as a freelance editor?

My experience has been wonderful so far. My clients have been creative and enthusiastic about their work, and I have enjoyed reading and improving upon each manuscript that comes my way.

6        Where is your favourite place to edit?

My favorite place to edit is at home, at my desk or at my kitchen table. Mostly I just need a warm drink and a quiet room.

7        Do you have a certain routine for editing? i.e. You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?

If I’m editing at home, the first thing I have to do is run around with my puppy. Once she’s sufficiently worn herself out, she falls asleep, leaving me free for a couple hours of uninterrupted editing time!

8        Do you learn anything from editing lots of different books and genres?  If so, what is it?

I have learned that authors in various genres struggle with different aspects of writing. Fantasy presents different challenges than realistic fiction—a romance writer doesn’t have to figure out how to describe magic, for example, but neither does a fantasy writer necessarily have to figure out how to write a sex scene. The unique issues with each genre and book have pushed me to become a more creative editor, teaching me many different ways to approach a variety of problems.

9        How long does it usually take you to edit a book?

It depends on the length and the type of editing, but I generally give myself three weeks with a book. I do several passes over the manuscript to ensure that everything is correct, and this time frame also gives me time to think about developmental issues and come up with ideas to address them.

10   Are there any simple editing tips you can share with us that every author should look out for?

Of course! A general tip is to be aware of your own frequently used words and phrases. Often, much of my job consists of drawing an author’s attention to his or her repetition, so if you can find those elements and vary your word choice on your own, that’s wonderful! A basic grammatical edit I find myself adjusting all the time is comma placement in a compound sentence. A compound sentence is two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction, like this: “I read a lot, and I edit even more.” As you can see from the example, this type of sentence requires a comma before the conjunction. If the sentence did not have two separate subjects (“I read a lot and edit even more”) then no comma is needed. Don’t worry if you can’t remember this rule, though—that’s my job!

11   Can you describe the feeling you had when you received your first piece of work as a freelance editor?

I was ecstatic! My first paying client was a self-publishing author with a historical fiction novella. He sent an inquiry straight to my email inbox with his first chapter included, and I was so excited that I sent his sample edit back the very same day. I had no prior connection to this author, so I felt very validated and satisfied that my services were valuable to my target client.

12   Who are some of your favourite authors? 

As I said, fantasy is one of my favorite genres. Some of my favorite books of all time are Name of the Wind, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, and, of course, the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series. Their authors are Patrick Rothfuss, Catherynne Valente, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling, respectively. Also, though her books don’t fit neatly in any one genre, I admire Diana Gabaldon’s writing more than I can describe. She has mastery over both the subtle elements of language and the larger mechanisms of storytelling, and together those make her books incredibly successful works of art.

13   What piece of advice would you give to a new writer from your experience?

Don’t worry too much about grammatical elements in your first draft. Don’t stress about making it “good.” Just get your story out, and then find someone who enjoys editing as much as you enjoy writing. Your editor will help you take your manuscript to the next level, and you won’t have been paralyzed by an unnecessary fear of making mistakes.

14   What piece of advice would you give to a new editor?

Familiarize yourself with the Chicago Manual of Style and refer to it often. Read widely; you’re little help to an aspiring author if you can’t tell them what elements of their book may be too close to other stories in their genre, causing a traditional publisher to overlook them. Also, be kind. An author’s work is like her baby! Take care of it—be honest about the changes that need to happen, but don’t be disrespectful of her effort and her ideas.

15   Have you ever wanted to write a book yourself?

Nope. To write, you need to have a story just bursting to get out of you—I don’t think I’ve got one in me! I much prefer to use my attention to detail and my love of reading to help those people who do have a story to make that story the best it can be.

16   Would you share a deep dark secret about you with us?

Oooh, sure. Here’s one that not many people know about me—even though I’m an English major, I have never read Pride and Prejudice all the way through. I know, it’s shameful. It just wasn’t my favorite when it was assigned in high school, and I haven’t given it another try since then! Maybe one day.


Thank you for letting us get to know you and the editing process, Flannery. It has been lovely to work with you and your information has been helpful.

Everyone, please remember any questions or suggestions for Flannery please write them in the comments section below.


2 thoughts on “Editor Profile – Flannery Winchester

  1. It’s really nice to read from an editors perspective for once. Thank you for sharing it was very interesting and inspiring.

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