Interview with Editor Courtney Umphress


It’s editor Courtney Umphress on the blog today. She is an experienced editor who has worked with many bestselling authors and also edited my upcoming book The Sword of Tropagia. You can visit her website

1) Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Your friends and family?

I have lived almost my entire life in the Texas Panhandle. I married my best friend while I was in college, and we now have two kids together—a four-year-old son and a ten-month-old daughter.


2) So how did you get into editing? Did you work as an editor to a publishing house, before going indie?

I decided to work with indie authors from the very start. I began editing when self-publishing was already popular, and being able to work and communicate directly with authors was much more appealing than working for a publishing house. I began working closely with a handful of authors, and my business just grew from there. Now I’m able to work with many authors in many different genres. My job is never boring!


3) What are your rates? What editing services do you offer?

I offer proofreading services, which addresses basic problems like typos, spelling and punctuation errors, missing words, and homonym errors, for $.003 per word. I also offer copyediting services, which includes everything proofreading addresses, as well as consistency errors, repetition, awkward wording, point of view errors, subject/verb agreement, etc., for $.006 per word. I know editing can be expensive, especially for first-time authors, so I’m always willing to discuss ways to work around a budget.


4) Why do you believe a writer should hire an editor?

Authors are close to their work, and they know exactly what they are trying to get across to their readers. It will always be beneficial to have a fresh pair of eyes look over a manuscript to identify things that are not as clear as the author originally assumed. Similarly, authors can sometimes read over what they thought they wrote and never see the mistake they would otherwise never miss, such as a missing or repeated word. Also, let’s face it, authors are busy with the creative process of writing, and they may not have the time or interest to learn every nitpicky rule that readers expect for them to follow. Editors are trained to locate errors, fix them, and return the polished product to the author in a reasonable amount of time.


5) I recently read a bestselling trad published book that contained a number of typos and grammatical errors in each page. Before that, I read an indie published book with almost zero such errors. Do you think indie writers are more aware about the need for an editor?

That’s a tricky question. Every author should understand the importance of editors, but while traditional authors are able to rely on publishing houses to clean up their manuscripts, indie authors are solely responsible for the state of their manuscripts. Indie authors have total say in the changes made to their novels, so it’s possible they recognize the need for editors more than traditional authors do.


6) Is it okay for an author to use beta readers and critique groups if he spent all his money on the book cover? What are the pros and cons of doing that?

Beta readers and critique groups are great resources for authors to utilize, but they are not editors. They are invaluable to authors on a budget who need help with big-picture problems like plot or character development, plot holes, and “showing, not telling.” Most will not, however, comb through a manuscript for grammar or usage errors. Readers will not hesitate to comment on how irritating minor grammar issues are even when the story itself is great.


7) How many authors have you worked with so far?

I couldn’t tell you an exact number. Probably around fifty or so.


8) Let’s take a look at the business side of editing. How do you promote yourself and your services?

I have made posts on public forums and social media sites such as Kboards and Goodreads, but most of my clients contact me after receiving recommendations from other authors I have worked with.


9) Do you like reading? What are your favourite books?

I wouldn’t be an editor if I didn’t like to read! As cheesy as it sounds, I’m a huge fan of the classics, especially Dracula, Frankenstein, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I also love to read fantasy, paranormal, and romance novels.


10) Anything you would like to add?

When searching for an editor, always ask if they will edit a sample. The number of editors is always growing, and an alarming number of them shouldn’t be editing. A sample will help an author decide if the editor they are about to trust with their manuscript is the right fit for them.

A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” releases shortly. Click here to download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free.



About A J Chaudhury

A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India of fantasy and historical fiction. His short story "A Song of Blood", set in historical Pragjotisha, has released recently, and more tales are following soon.
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