“Wow” is what authors want people to say about their books. But we have to fix them first, because first drafts, and even second ones, tend to be more “ow” than “wow.” And that’s where James Osiris Baldwin and his book come in handy. What book, you ask? Fix Your Damn Book, of course! James is also an editor for hire. Here’s a bit more about him.
Dragon Award-nominated author James Osiris Baldwin is a transgender man from Australia who writes gritty LGBT-inclusive, dark fantasy and science fiction. He was the former Contributing Editor for the Australian Journal of Dementia Care and has also worked as an editor and website manager for Alzheimer’s Australia.
He currently lives in Seattle with his lovely wife, a precocious cat, and far too many rats. His obsession with the Occult is matched only by his preoccupation with motorcycles.
On to the interview about James, his editing services, and how Fix Your Damn Book can help you (even if you’re not an author, it has great advice on polishing any written work).
D.R.- Coffee or tea?
J.O.B.- Coffee. Emphatically.
D.R.- Dogs or cats?
J.O.B.- Cats. Emphatically.
D.R.- What is your favorite color?
J.O.B.- Blue, which is why I picked blue for the cover of Fix Your Damn Book. Also, because the whole ‘red pen’ thing is kind of harsh as a concept – sky blue offsets the red.
D.R.- Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
J.O.B.- I count Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Dick Francis as my primary literary inspirations. In regards to editing… editing isn’t really something you get ‘inspired’ to do. It’s the necessary blue-collar part of the writing business, and some people are more into it than others. I think editing is great fun and am happy to edit for a living.
D.R.- What’s your Patronus?
J.O.B.- An angry Velociraptor with a Wacom stylus. It figured out how to use tools, Alan!
D.R.- Why do you love/hate winter?
J.O.B.- It’s cold and dark, like my flinty, grammatically-correct but blackened heart.
D.R.- Where’d you get the idea for your services?
J.O.B.- Again, editing isn’t an inspired profession in the way that fiction writing is. I’ve been a freelance writer since 2006, which led to a full-time editing position for a magazine where I trained in editing under two senior editors, one in England and one in Australia. They came from different backgrounds (British lady was a veteran book editor and has worked in publishing for 20 years or so; Australian lady has worked in newspaper editing and layout), and so I was trained comprehensively. Editing is one of those jobs that you get into via apprenticeship, even if you study it at college. Theoretical knowledge is not as useful as practical application.
D.R.- What genres do you feel comfortable supporting?
J.O.B.- I believe that one of the features of editorial training is a good understanding of register, which is a word that refers to the ‘voice’, ‘style’ or formality of a piece of writing. Magazine articles have a register, essays have a register, every genre of fiction has a register. Any editor worth their salt must understand what the genre or subject demands of the author in terms of register, and then edit their work to bring it in line with the requirements of that genre or level of formality or whatever without obliterating their individual voice.
As an editor, I’ll work on anything except looney-bin religious or conspiracy literature, or anything containing hate speech of any kind.
D.R.- What do you have to offer authors? Where can we find your services on the Internet?
J.O.B.- The frontline offering for authors is Fix Your Damn Book!, which is a summary of everything I learned about editing applied to fiction, and which is intended for use as a self-editing guide for people on extremely small budgets. I also take on editing projects at any stage of editing (developmental, line editing, copyediting, and proofing) at middle of the market rates. Full novel projects generally cost between $400 – 650. I am happy to do a free sample edit of the first chapter of a client’s novel and a follow-up Skype consultation.
I usually take on jobs via word of mouth or direct contact via email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org. My blog also has a ‘Writerchat’ category where I publish my craft of writing and editing posts.
D.R.- Do you do live events? Where and when?
J.O.B.- I occasionally emerge from my lair to run video presentations and seminars about my fiction, non-fiction, and editing, which are put up on Youtube. The next one will be on the 29th, where I’ll be talking about the Russian Mafia and the occult background of my novel Blood Hound. I’ll be blogging and vlogging about editing and the craft of writing all the way through NaNoWriMo.