Ask Bethany House: What Does a Copy Editor Do?

This week’s Ask Bethany House question seems straightforward at first: “What does the job of an editor at Bethany House involve?”

Of course, my first response to this is: “What kind of editor?” Yes, it makes a difference, and to add to the confusion, publishing companies don’t always use the same terminology to refer to each type of editor.

The ancient version of copy editors?

The origin of modern copy editors?

If you’re interested in the perspective of an acquisitions editor, check out this Q&A. Today on the blog, we’re chatting with Elisa, one of our copy editors, about the work she does on Bethany House books.

Amy: If you were explaining to someone totally unfamiliar with publishing terminology what you do as a copy editor, what would you say?

Elisa: I work to make a book consistent and polished so that the author’s vision is clearly expressed to the reader. People usually associate copy editing with grammar and spelling, which are certainly a large part of the job, but it also includes keeping character descriptions consistent, tracking timelines, verifying sources and references to real people and places, making sure all necessary pieces are included, and following the first rule of copy editing: Do no harm. It’s not my book, and in a sense I aim to make my work invisible so that the author’s message is cleanly delivered to the reader.

Amy: Interesting—I don’t even know that I would have thought of all of those areas. So, then, what three qualities would you say are most important in someone who wants to be a copy editor?

Elisa: A copy editor should be attentive, cooperative, and patient.

Amy: Someone reading this might think, “Yes, I am all three of those things.” What practical advice would you give a person interested in a career in editing?

Elisa: Find as many possible ways to gain experience now. This could include working on a school newspaper or literary journal, doing freelance proofreading for a local magazine (this is how I started), volunteering as a writing tutor, proofreading newsletters for an organization or ministry, doing an internship or informational interview in the industry, and taking editing, proofreading, and writing classes. When you are first starting, also look for opportunities to develop the skills you will need as an editor, even if the tasks may not seem to directly correspond to editing. In college I worked for over two years as an assistant to our band director and managed our music library, learning about Excel, data entry, organization, and how to manage stacks and stacks of paper all around you (all of which are still applicable in my job today).

Elisa likes to visit libraries in her travels. This is the view from the top floor of the Amsterdam Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam). On this same trip to the Netherlands, she had the chance to visit the Corrie ten Boom house museum, to see the location of The Hiding Place in person.

Elisa likes to visit libraries in her travels. This is the view from the top floor of the Amsterdam Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam). On this same trip to the Netherlands, she had the chance to visit the Corrie ten Boom house museum, to see the location of The Hiding Place in person.

Thanks so much for joining us, Elisa! And readers, watch the blog for more behind-the-scenes interviews with Bethany House employees in the coming months!

What question do you have about what goes on behind-the-scenes at Bethany House? We may cover it in a future blog post!

Announcing our BHP Fiction Pinterest Page!

Time for a little fun on the blog! Bethany House is starting something new on Pinterest. We have our official BHP page, with both fiction and nonfiction to highlight new releases, and now have a more informal Pinterest page, shared with some of our authors. We’d be happy to have you follow either of them for book-related fun!

Here are a few of my favorites from some of our boards. Enjoy!

From our “BHP Pets” board, I give you Dewey, owned by one of our editors, Jeff, and named after the Dewey Decimal System (only at a publishing company…).
We’re pulling out our inner word nerd on the “Book Stats, Trivia, and Infographics” board. (See any ones on here that are tricky for you?)

For a little laugh, check out the “Book Humor” board. I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar to the cartoon below:

PinterestAnd quotes about writing, reading, and other book-ish things on the “Book Smart” board.

And, of course, many more! There will be new pins to the BHP Fiction board…this is just the beginning. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments of this post. We want to know what you’d like to see from us!

Don’t forget to stop by the boards of some of our authors (they have fun stuff that will help you picture the characters and settings of their books):
Elizabeth Camden
Julianna Deering
Jody Hedlund
Dani Pettrey
Becky Wade
Connilyn Cossette
Sarah Loudin Thomas
Tamera Alexander
Leslie Gould
Kristi Ann Hunter
Kate Breslin
Dina Sleiman

What’s your favorite thing to pin on Pinterest? Any boards you’d be interested in seeing on the Bethany House page?

Celebrating Teen Read Week with Dina Sleiman and Bonnie Calhoun!

Next week, October 18-24 is Teen Read Week, according to the American Library Association. Many libraries have special programs or events to celebrate—check out your library to see if there’s something you can get involved in!

To celebrate, we’re chatting with and Bonnie Calhoun, author of the STONE BRAIDE CHRONICLES, and Dina Sleiman, author of the VALIANT HEARTS novels, both young adult series.


Amy: What made you want to write a young adult novel?

Bonnie: I decided to write YA because young people are more interested in fast-paced plots and slightly wild scenarios. They tend to like more action than adults, and they don’t want to be talked down to, so there is no need to alter the language level for understanding. And the best part . . . the imagination of a YA reader is a wonderful thing! They are much more willing to suspend disbelief than adults.

Dina: Writing instructors say to picture one person you’re writing your novel for. I always pictured a young woman in her late teens or early twenties—a struggling Christian or searching unbeliever in need of guidance and inspiration. When I learned that the typical reader of adult Christian fiction is middle-aged, I realized YA might actually be a better fit for me. Young adult readers are looking for something more real and raw than their adult counterparts. They are hoping to see the world as it truly is and learn and grow through fiction. All of that makes YA a great fit for me. And to top it off, the medieval period, which I love, has traditionally been more appealing to young adult readers. Continue reading

Seven Ways Authors Are Basically Superheroes

Movie theaters have been filled with superhero blockbuster hits recently, with more to come, and it got me thinking: there are a lot of similarities between writers and superheroes. No, they don’t wear capes or spandex in their author photos (and we’re grateful for that), but there are still some interesting similarities between your favorite writers and defenders of truth and justice.


One: The library is their secret hideout. They can disappear there for days without coming out, either writing or researching or reading (or training their young superhero apprentices, a.k.a. children, to love reading).

Two: Want to see a list of sidekicks? Read the acknowledgements page of any of their novels. That’s basically what that page is.

Bonus reason: many authors have Grammar Girl as a sidekick!

Bonus reason: many authors have Grammar Girl as a sidekick!

Three: Some authors, including several who write for Bethany House, have secret identities, alternately known as pen names.

Four: Just as superheroes are often part of groups to keep the world safe, writers congregate together and form alliances to help each other grow and to make the literary world a better place. (I’m not sure why they haven’t changed the name of ACFW to the Avengers Christian Fiction Writers. Go figure.)

Five: Writers can teleport people to different locations almost instantly by engaging readers in the story worlds they’ve created. Historical fiction authors have even mastered time travel!

Other superpowers include: X-ray Editing Vision, Flight (of fancy), Mind Control (during those last few tense chapters especially), Super Typing Strength, Plotting, Invisibility (when they’re on deadline, anyway) and Superhuman Coffee Consumption.

The perfect mug for coffee-guzzling writers at work!

The perfect mug for coffee-guzzling writers at work!

Six: They defeat dastardly villains on a regular basis, such as:

  • The League of Daunting Gatekeepers
  • The Muddy Middle Monster (who unleashes a Gaping Plot Hole of Doom)
  • The Grammar Nazi with his Sinister Red Pen Device
  • The Gremlin of Self-Doubt (whose favorite trick is dropping Writer’s Blocks on unsuspecting authors in an attempt to crush them)

Seven: Finally, just like our favorite caped crusaders, there are times (like right around a book’s release) where authors find themselves in the spotlight, enjoying a little praise and attention…but most of the time, they’re just typing away, being quietly faithful to their calling to write great books, even if no one sees or appreciates all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

Thank you, authors. You’re heroes to us!

Did I miss any? How do you think writers and superheroes are alike?

Prayer for Authors: October 2015

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Authors with Books Releasing in October:

Lynn Austin
Mary Connealy
Tracie Peterson
Lauraine Snelling

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” – Isaiah 55:2-3, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For inspiration for the next novel or series that will resonate with readers at their point of need.
  • For diligence in doing daily tasks that can seem tedious or challenging.
  • For physical health and protection for the authors and their family members.

Once again, let me say that I find it so encouraging that many of you take the time to pray for our authors every month. I know it means a lot to them as well!

October Bethany House Books

This month, we have four new releases, all of them book three in a series. (I know, it would be more symmetrical if we had three book threes releasing, but I wouldn’t want to give up one of these lovely novels just for the sake of symmetry!)

Just for fun, I went to page 33 of each of these books and picked three sentences to share with you. (And then a short summary of each book, just in case three sentences wasn’t enough to give you all the details of the plot.) For a longer excerpt of each book, click on the cover!

Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice by Mary Connealy

Three Lines: “He’s building a trail up this slope?” Shannon looked over the canyon rim, then turned to Bailey, her eyes wide, her voice laced with doubt. “He’ll have to move half the mountain.”

Summary: Bailey Wilde and Gage Coulter each have something the other wants. Can these two headstrong homesteaders finally loosen up enough to earn each other’s respect—and maybe find love in the process?

Love Everlasting

Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson

Three Lines: She didn’t know how to put it into words without sounding fretfully ignorant. “What is it, Abrianna? You do love him, don’t you?”

Summary: After a fire destroys much of Seattle, Abrianna Cunningham realizes that her friendship with Wade Ackerman is changing. While she contemplates her confusing new emotions, a past suitor resurfaces who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Will Abrianna get her chance at love?

On This Foundation

On This Foundation by Lynn Austin

Three Lines: “Once we’re married, we’ll reign over Jerusalem as king and queen,” Yitzhak used to tease. “Our sons will be little princes.” And now he was gone.

Summary: After news reaches him that Jerusalem’s wall is shattered, a distraught Nehemiah seeks God’s guidance in prayer. When he is suddenly granted leave from his duties to the King of Persia, Nehemiah sets out for Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall—never anticipating the challenges that lie ahead.

Streams of Mercy

Streams of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling

Three Lines: Miriam nodded and watched her brother leave the room. Tonio was here to stay—like the rest of them. Surely Mum and Da were celebrating too—if people in heaven really could know what was happening to their loved ones on earth.

Summary: When widow Anji Baard Moen returns to Blessing, North Dakota, with her children, two men enter her life. As she moves forward from her loss, who will capture her heart?

Go ahead, join me! Grab the book you’re currently reading and write out three lines from page 33. (Be sure to let us know the title and the author!)