Julia Ganis has always loved a great story.
A child of Hollywood, she read her first screenplay at age ten, devoured Jane Austen at the dinner table and snuck Harlequin Presents under the covers.
After twenty years of guiding screenwriters, doing script analysis, working in feature films and children’s television, and even teaching science, she decided to return to her first love: romance novels.
A behind-the-scenes romance copy editor for several years, in 2013 Julia launched JuliaEdits.com to offer her services to a wider sphere of indie writers. Current JuliaEdits clients range from New York Times bestsellers with hybrid careers, to emerging self-pub authors and absolute beginners.
Julia graduated from the University of California at San Diego’s Muir College with a degree in Visual Arts/Media. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and way too many cats. You can find her online at JuliaEdits.com.
Adria: Hi Julia! Welcome to the blog! You’re a new face around here so can you tell me a little about yourself? Where are you from? Are you a romance novel fan? Have any pets? ;)
Julia: Hi, Adria! So happy to have this opportunity to chat about editing.
I was born in New York but grew up in Los Angeles, where I still live. I’m married, and have an eleven-year-old son. I’ve been a romance fan ever since some random girl at camp lent me a Harlequin Presents when I was about twelve. I’m a big reader in general, and romance is probably about seventy-five percent of what I read.
Pets? Um, four cats. That’s too many, right? There’s a whole long story behind it—which I will spare you—but just know that even I understand that’s too many. Also, just FYI on most nights you can find me, my husband, my kid and all four cats in the bed together. Seven mammals in a queen bed. It’s very, very cozy.
Adria: For anyone who is not familiar with the term “Freelance Editor,” can you explain what exactly is a freelance editor?
Julia: Being a freelance editor means I don’t work for any one publishing company. Instead, I work for authors directly. In practical terms, that means that in any given month I may collaborate with a New York Times bestselling author, or a fantastic newbie author, or someone who’s published fifty books via a traditional publisher, or someone who is exclusively self-published. Or all of those!
Adria: You’re a freelance editor, which to me translates to “Person who makes an awesome book even more awesome.” Seriously though, I do admire editors because it just seems like a lot of work to edit book after book. How did you get started editing and how long have you been editing?
Julia: Well, I’m a longtime romance reader. And I’ve always had jobs that were writing-related. The main focus of my early professional life was in the entertainment industry, where I worked with A-list writers, directors and producers in both film and television production and development. I also worked in marketing and education. Eventually I decided to return to romance, my first love. I worked behind the scenes for several years, and then about a year ago launched JuliaEdits.com to offer my services to a wider sphere of indie authors.
Also, I’m a copy editor, which means I focus on: spelling, grammar, punctuation and word usage; clarity and flow; internal consistency, style and voice; basic fact-checking, where applicable; and proper formatting. I also go a bit beyond standard copy editing into light developmental editing, so I give feedback on plot, characterization and the emotional through-line of a story. I try to cover all the bases!
Adria: You specialize in editing romance novels, including Erotica and New Adult. What do you think it is about the romance genre that keeps readers coming back for more?
Julia: Oh, it’s that happy ending, isn’t it? For me it is, anyway. I love watching well-spun stories unfold, and knowing that there’s a happy ending coming. And I think modern romance, with its forward-thinking idea of what that happy ending is—meaning, not limited to a wedding and a white picket fence—is so very satisfying to read.
And to put it in more political terms, I think it’s an endlessly fascinating and revolutionary thing we’re doing: mostly women creating a mostly women-centered product that’s mostly consumed by women. Rock on, girls!
Julia: Laura Wright is awesome! I think we’ve collaborated on ten books together so far.
I do love my pro clients like Alexandra Ivy, Lara Adrian, Stephanie Tyler, Donna Grant, Sheri Whitefeather, Barbara Ankrum and Jeannie Lin. But at the same time, I absolutely love working with talented new or emerging authors. Kate Canterbary is a brand new author who absolutely knocked my socks off when I edited her first book, which will be published this year. (I actually accused her of being multi-published and coming to me under a pseudonym. Nope—she’s just very skilled. Oops.) Molle McGregor is another newbie, and she’s created a rich and compelling paranormal world with her Shadow Warder series. So there’s really a range.
Adria: What is the most challenging part of your job? How about the most rewarding?
Julia: There are some practical challenges involved with juggling multiple clients, and the ever-shifting schedules of some authors who need to move a deadline or reschedule a project entirely. I think those sorts of things are typical for a freelance editor. I always want to find time in my schedule to accommodate my repeat clients, and that’s sometimes hard to do. Occasionally authors come to me on very short deadlines and I do my best to make it work. More than once I’ve finished editing a book early in the morning and seen it up on Amazon that same day.
There are also creative challenges—which I love because they really get my editor juices flowing!—like when I worked on the MASTERS OF SEDUCTION series of novellas by Lara Adrian, Donna Grant, Alexandra Ivy and Laura Wright. The novellas each feature a separate hero and heroine, but there’s a plot that links all the stories. And it’s the beginning of a new paranormal series, which meant there were all sorts of world rules and vocabulary being established. So keeping all of that information in my head, trying to coordinate all the details, communicating with four authors, making sure that everything was right—that was a big job.
But what’s most rewarding is knowing that I’ve made someone’s work better. That the author has a vision, and I helped her achieve it. I love that!
Lastly, it’s super-rewarding when a writer comes back to me for another book. It shows me that I’ve been doing a good job and that others are appreciating the high quality I offer.
Adria: Is there an author that you haven’t gotten the chance to work with yet that you’d like to in the future?
Julia: Can I answer “all of them”?!? I guess I’d always love to work with some of my all-time favorite authors, not that they’re necessarily showing any inclination toward self-publishing: Victoria Dahl, Jennifer Crusie, Kristan Higgins. How about Susan Elizabeth Phillips—I mean, a girl can dream, right?
Adria: What can authors expect from you as an editor?
Julia: Well first, that I’ll work really hard in service of their book, to make it the best it can be. On top of that, because I’m a romance reader myself, a writer will never have to defend her genre with me. You’re writing about lonely vampires? Hunky cowboys? Best friends turned lovers? Right off the bat I accept your story’s premise and want only to make it great.
I’ve been surprised, unfortunately, to hear some other editors denigrate romance and its various sub-genres. It’s kind of depressing, actually, to see the very basic elements of our world disrespected in that way. So I’m happy to be out and proud as a pro-romance editor.
I’m also very supportive of the legitimacy of self-publishing. I don’t think self-publishing means second best anymore—and I will work as hard for a self-pubbed book as an editor would at a traditional New York publishing house.
Anyway—beyond my practical and technical skills as an editor, I am absolutely committed to preserving authorial intentions and voice. That means I never ever want to change a writer’s work so it doesn’t sound like her words anymore.
Ultimately, my editing process is collaborative, so the writer and I form a team dedicated to the success of the work.
Adria: About how long does it usually take you to go through a full length novel and edit it?
Julia: It really depends on word count and scheduling. My work flow always involves two full passes through the manuscript, with time in between for the author to revise. So I receive the work, do one full pass, and send it back to the writer with my notes, comments and corrections. She’ll do any revisions and then send it back to me for another full pass. I’ve worked on short stories and novellas well under 20,000 words, and full-length books of 110,000+ words, so the length of time I need varies as well. And some authors like to turn around their revisions to me very quickly; others need longer.
Adria: How far in advance are you booked?
Julia: It varies. At times, I’m solidly booked two or three months in advance. Other times I have more flexibility. And every now and again someone misses a deadline and I’ve got a wide-open spot for someone else to take.
Adria: How about a few fun questions?
Julia: I’m ready. Hit me!
Adria: Last movie you saw in theaters?
Julia: How to Train Your Dragon 2. (Did I mention I have a kid?) The last grown-up movie I saw and loved was Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. Genius.
Adria: Last book you read that you really enjoyed?
Julia: There are so many that it’s hard to focus on just one, but off the top of my head I’ll say Victoria Dahl’s latest novella, FANNING THE FLAMES. It’s a short, sexy read that just blew my socks off. And the hero and heroine are both in their forties. I didn’t realize until I read it how much I wanted to see characters closer to my own age. Just adored it.
Adria: Favorite alcoholic beverage?
Julia: I can never, ever turn down a Sidecar, which is a classic old cocktail dating to the very early 1900s. Or a very cold Lillet with a slice of orange.
Adria: Dogs or cats?
Julia: Um, I mentioned I have four cats, right? But I grew up with dogs. When some of these cats go to kitty heaven I’m hoping we’ll get a dog.
Adria: Original TV Series or Reality Show?
Julia: Reality: I don’t have cable or satellite so I have to wait till I’m at a hotel or someone else’s house to watch Project Runway, Top Chef or the like. At a hotel last month I absolutely devoured Alaskan Bush People.
Adria: Favorite TV Show?
Julia: 30 Rock forever, but since that’s off the air: Mindy Project, New Girl (if they get their romantic storylines straightened out!), Downton Abbey and OMG the BBC’s Sherlock!
Adria: Thank you for your time Julia, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Julia: Just that every self-pubbing author needs an editor. EVERY author. Whether it’s me who gets the job or one of my talented colleagues, editing is a step every single book should go through. Self-pub authors who skip this in an attempt to save money or time do so to the detriment of their work, and ultimately their career.