Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Blogger: Professional Editor, Gail Gabrielson

I met Gail Gabrielson several years ago, while blogging on, a blogging community of Forum Communicatons Company Newspaper and Broadcast websites, ie Newspapers, Television and Internet.

Gail graduated from the University of North Dakota, in Grand Forks. She has worked for several hometown newspapers, as well as, North Dakota's largest communications company, Forum Communications, as the editor of the Celebrations section of the Fargo Forum (7 years). Today she is the President of Gabrielson Editing.

Gail is a whiz at grammar and punctuation, proofreading, and content suggestions, all the while maintaining a professional, yet friendly relationship. Gail's editing style is unlike anything I have encountered; she edits with encouragement. I asked Gail if she would guest blog for me today, which she graciously accepted, taking time out of her busy schedule. In her guest blog today, you will see a side of Gail that is humorous, and delightful, not at all the personality you would expect from an editor. Gail is also an avid reader and posts reviews on her blog: The Book Bag. NOTE: Gail posts reviews on books she chooses to read, she is not a paid reviewer. So, in the infamous words of Mel Blanc, on with the show, this is it....


Thanks to Donna for allowing me to “guest-blog” on her website! She asked me to write about editing -- my first love.

I had my first taste of editing back when I was writing for a weekly newspaper. The local “who-ate-with-whom” news came handwritten from the correspondents. I changed “quests” to “guests” and “ladies” to “women.” (The publisher told me, “All ladies are women, but not all women are ladies.”)

From there, I started editing the handwritten stories of city council meetings given to me by the editor of a sister publication. This editor basically took minutes of the meetings as they happened, and gave them to me for what she considered editing. Normally a writer would decide the most important thing that happened at the meeting, and put that first in the story, going on to expand on how the decision was made and how it affects the readers.

I applied that to her stories, coming up with a lead and headline mere minutes before printing. When she saw my changes, she told me to leave her stories alone – they were fine as they were. And every single story about the meetings began the same way. It killed me to see those stories go to print.

My first experience editing a book was also during the time I was working for the weekly newspaper. An acquaintance had confided that she had written a book and asked if I would consider looking it over. She brought her typed manuscript over and we discussed just how much input she wanted. She wanted all my ideas and suggestions, along with a thorough proofreading.

She had a good story, and she had dreams of having the novel printed by a real publisher. It was a historically-based novel that started out in the present-day and then flashed back. I thought her book would have been more interesting -- more compelling -- if the story would jump back and forth in time, using elements in the story to prompt the movement.

Unfortunately, she thought that would be too much work. And then I knew that she wouldn’t be able to find a publisher who would take her story as it was and print it. They would want her to rework it, polish it here and there, write and rewrite. So, my friend took her book to a print shop and told them to print and bind it.

When she gave me her second book, I merely proofed it. It was good, but not great. She’d found her voice by the second novel; it was nice to see that growth. This is when I realized that I was born to be an editor. I can write, but I’d rather see what someone else has written and work with that.

With that first historical novel, I could see the finished product: I wasn’t going to change her words, just the way in which they were organized. All it would have needed was a little juggling of her chapters and the creation of proper segues from one time to the next. That could have been accomplished easily with the use of italic font.

Another author I know was doing his own proofreading. That’s hard – the eye doesn’t always see the errors when you know what should be there. Even after his first printing, he was finding errors, but his self-published book was by far the cleanest I’ve ever seen.
What really disappoints me is seeing errors in books released by major publishers. It makes me wonder if they have people reading through these books, or if they’ve resorted to a spell-check program. If that’s the case, we’re doomed. With the heavy use of texting and brand names that purposefully misspell proper words, it’s going to take some heavy lifting by the rest of us to maintain the English language. ~ Gail Gabrielson,President, Gabrielson Editing
Gail, has helped me to re-work parts of one of my, yet to be published, works, "The Ten Thousand Hands Project". It was a pitiful piece of prose, which still needs more work, but with Gail's help I was able to get the project moving in the right direction again.

When I first revealed my desire to write, to be an author, Gail was right there to provide encouragement for me to pursue this dream. Thank you, Gail for guest blogging for me today!