Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Editor Interview : Naheed Hassan, Editor and Co-Founder, Indireads
Indirom is the flagship brand for Indireads. It offers romance novellas, for South Asian readers everywhere. And the editor for Indireads is Naheed Hassan.
‘Many new writers try and write entire books without dialogue, which makes their writing very uninteresting. Dialogue is important and a skill to learn and perfect is the writing of natural sounding dialogue that moves the story along,’ she says. For more such tips, read my interview of Naheed Hassan at Indireads.
What are you looking for in a book, when it first comes to you?
First and foremost, I am looking for a compelling story, and an engaging writing style. A fantastic story told badly will disappoint readers, as much as good writing cannot save a bad story.
We have a team of editors that provide feedback on both elements to writers as soon as they have submitted a story idea and the first five to seven thousand words.
What, according to you are the qualities of an ideal writer?
Great language skills, coupled with an ability to hold a reader’s interest with their story-telling. We are always looking for aspiring new writers who combine these two qualities.
A good storyteller can hold the readers interest from start to finish – either through their story or with words and imagery.
Could you explain your process, from writing to editing, and finally, printing and marketing? Is it very different from the traditional book printing?
We work with writers and give feedback and suggestions on storyline and writing style as well as offer support to writers through the entire writing process.
Once the manuscript is complete, our editors initially focus on storyline related feedback and work with the writer to strengthen, tighten the story. Next, we copy edit and proofread the manuscript.
In parallel, we start the marketing process which involves a range of activites including advertising and putting the manuscript in front of reviewers. Our books are only available as ebooks and their marketing tends to be quite different from traditional print books – with a focus on social media including Facebook and Twitter and affiliates of the major retailers, especially Amazon.
What is the one thing, you would you tell an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many tips as you like)
Writing a book is very different from writing short stories. One of the things we stress on is creating a detailed timeline and storyline before starting to write because oftentimes a new writer, trying to write on the go, can get frustrated and then stuck.
Another critical element is writing good dialogue. Many new writers try and write entire books without dialogue, which makes their writing very uninteresting. Dialogue is important and a skill to learn and perfect is the writing of natural sounding dialogue that moves the story along.
What do you think an editor can add to the writer’s work?
In my opinion, there are very few writers who are also able to edit their work. And by
editing I don’t mean correcting and copy editing.
Substantive editing is where the editor offers insights into gaps and flaws in a story and a writers writing style. For example, a writer may have visualized an important detail from a character’s past but may have omitted to reveal it in the story.
A good editor would then point this out to the author and help them correct the oversight. I believe strongly that editors play a critical role in strengthening and testing a story and that an author would be well-advised to be open to receiving feedback before presenting their story to the world.
What are you working on now?
At Indireads, we work with several authors and manuscripts at a time, in various stages
of completetion. I make it a point to be involved with every book, so currently I am working on several books.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a book editor?
I always wanted to be a writer – publishing and editing came much later for me. But they are very fulfilling in their own way.
What sorts of project(s) are most likely to get an okay from you?
I don’t go with fixed views. Like I said before, I am looking for interesting stories and writers with an engaging writing style.
Could you tell us about some of your upcoming titles?
We have a love story coming up, which is an innovative and modern take on Beauty and the Beast. There is also a funny story about a pregnant newscaster whose job is on the line because of her weight gain.
What are your top three favourite books?
I have many favourites but in the rom-com genre ‘The Zoya Factor’ by Anuja Chauhan is a book that always picks me up. ‘Mothsmoke’ by Mohsin Hamid is absolutely brilliant and ‘Listening Now’ by Anjana Appachana is one of the most lyrical and beautiful books I have ever read, about secrets and bonds between women.
What is your favourite thing about being an editor? And your least favourite thing?
My favourite thing is being able to help a writer solve an issue they have been struggling with, and my least favourite is working with writers who take constructive feedback in a negative way.
What are the main skills, an editor would need to do their job well?
Attention to detail and the ability to track and analyse a story from start to finish.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Being able to step away from a story that you have already read and given feedback on several times, and look at it anew, to provide a fresh round of analysis and feedback. That is very difficult.