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09 January 2011

Welcome Special Guest: Jay Austin, EIC

Please welcome Editor-in-Chief for eXtasy Books Incorporated and Devine Destinies, an imprint of eXtasy Books, Jay Austin, or as she says, “Aka, just J. Ask the authors, they know me.” Authors with the company that publishes eBooks, aka electronic books, have enjoyed her presence as EIC since the end of 2007.
Welcome Jay! Please tell us a bit about your background/experience and your position as EIC.
My title is EIC—Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Charge, Editor-in-Command, all are the same. I am the editor who cleans manuscripts and formats such into a general, simple style that is virus-free and then tagged to mark the house, author’s name, book title, date received and size.
I check for manuscripts needing tended daily. Be it a submission, returned edits or galley errors, I download the file and respond such was received and is moving to the next step.
I answer emails from authors, editors and readers. I invite and welcome readers to inform me of discovered errors. While perfection does not exist, I am more than happy to fix any errors in an effort to get as close as possible.
I format and make all the books: five basic formats turn into ten different formats of each book.
I track release dates, manuscript status and editors.
As for my background and experience, someone described me as having an affinity for the written word, an appreciation for a well-written phrase, enjoyment of a well-executed manuscript. Yep, that’s true. My editing roots started in journalism in the very early 1990s.
What inspired you to become an EIC?
I love reading, I hate errors and I wanted something that not only worked in both directions, but paid as well. The only position in life that grants me the combination of those three opportunities is editing. On average, I read about 30,000 words a day and scan an additional 5,000.
What do you look for in the stories you accept/publish/read?
Potential. There has to be the potential for a good story.
Ability. The ability to take ideas and criticism and work with the editor to a more polished conclusion.
Willingness. The author must understand that editing is part of the road to publication and accept that we all make errors—to include you and me—that perfection is an illusion, the unattainable goal no one will ever reach.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you can give?
Research the publishers. Business is business. A company that has been around longer will generally have more stability than one that is younger, but younger companies most likely have shorter waiting periods for publication. Any company just starting out doesn’t have a record and is naturally a greater risk than an older company—that’s just common business sense in any industry. The experience of the staff will vary and company age is not necessarily an impacting factor in that department. Something to look for that I often see pointed out in the publishing industry is look to see how many of the owner’s books have been published with the company. Make sure the company you choose is more interested in publishing books from incoming authors rather than company staff.
Read the submission guidelines. I cannot express this one enough so—READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Pay very close attention to “
We do NOT accept” and “Manuscripts should be prepared as follows” statements. Read these carefully. When a publisher opens a submission and those guidelines have been disregarded, the result is a guaranteed rejection. Ignoring those simple directions indicates you are likely to refuse to follow any other directions.
Make sure the manuscript fits the house. Submitting YA to an erotica publisher or erotica to a YA publisher is a guaranteed rejection. It also makes you look as though you either randomly picked a publisher or mass sent to several publishers. Most publishers dislike simultaneous submissions.
Research grammar and punctuation. Submit a manuscript with up-to-date grammar. Access Chicago Manual of Style—available online—or Little Brown Brief—available from most local colleges—but make sure your grammar and punctuation are correct. For example, historical can be tricky so make sure your facts are straight—you can’t have the hero wearing tight blue jeans in 1432 if such wasn’t invented yet.
Give your best. Make your manuscript as clean as possible. The cleaner your writing, the more professional you appear and the easier an edit you will be.
Check out the company’s books and authors. Buy one or two books and see what the company’s work is like. Ask if the company can give roundabout estimated timeframes on submissions, editing and publication and perhaps even tell you the basic editing process. Check out a few of the authors and ask them their opinion about the company. Ask the company for a sample contract and then ask an attorney about anything you don’t fully understand.
Once accepted, ask the company for a basic guideline of house rules and time to make your manuscript match. T-shirt, t-shirt and tee shirt are all correct, but making sure the house rules are there before the editor starts on the edits will make the process smoother for all parties.
Above all else, KEEP IT REAL. While your story may be very good, the ability to turn a story into a million-dollar book is a one in a million long shot that most will never achieve and expecting to hand over a manuscript that makes you an instant millionaire does not exist. I apologize if anyone finds that offensive, but it’s a cold hard fact in the world of publishing. While you may be the next JK Rowling, so is every other writer and that’s a lot of competition on all fronts.
If someone wanted to work for you/your company, what kind of experience does s/he need?
Experience in editing, reviewing, writing, journalism or any combination thereof is highly welcome. Reviewers are very perceptive of content and flow, communicate well and are very willing to learn, previously experienced editors are experienced, journalists are most of the above and some authors make darn fine editors—the phrase you can see errors in another’s work better than your own is true.
I’ve been asked what degree I hold that makes me an editor. There seems to be much confusion in the world of editing regarding mandatory, required or needed skills.
You don’t have to be an English major to be an editor, especially in fiction. No official educational requirements are necessary to hold the title of editor. Knowledge of the language, proper grammar, syntax, punctuation and style are extremely vital and keeping on top of such is even more imperative. Hired based on ability and experiences are common. You don’t need a college degree to be a successful editor. A Bachelor’s Degree in English is okay, but Journalism is a best bet.
You don’t need any particular schooling to be an editor—not like a doctor or dentist. Some fall into it sideways by starting in the industry in a different capacity and shifting left when an opening is available. Some study writing courses, communications, journalism and so forth and get in that way. Studying editing with a great course under your belt is the best way to get into it and it can also help you make industry contacts, which can be very helpful in getting a job as an editor.
The best assets for being in the field are editors must communicate ideas logically and clearly as well as enjoy reading and writing. Curiosity, creativity, a broad range of self-motivation, knowledge and perseverance are equally valuable. Editors must demonstrate a strong sense of ethics and good judgment in deciding what to publish. The ability to work under pressure and concentrate amid confusion is valuable. Editors need tact and the ability to guide and encourage others in their work.

Is your company/site looking to fill positions? If so, who and how would s/he contact you or the appropriate person?
From time to time, editing slots open and I am always willing to train potential editors. If interested, contact me at and we’ll talk.
Now for some fun facts…
Would you/have you own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet?

Have I owned, no, would I own…well, dragon, unicorn, werewolf, vampire—oh wait, you mean real, huh? Then either a Siberian Tiger or Polar Bear. However, it would have to be me moving to live with them as I wouldn’t want to infringe on their freedom, but it won’t happen as I refuse to live in either environment.
Which do you prefer: rain or sun & warm weather or cold weather?
Remember, the previous question? Well, I like cold days and chilly nights because they’re good for cuddling, but snow is not an option.
If you could live anywhere in the universe, where would it be and why?
Hmmm, a castle because I could have a private tower…and a torture chamber in the dungeon for the hubby when he’s bad. Honestly, right where I am because life’s just fine the way it is.
So Jay, is there anything you’d like to add?
Communication and professionalism are essential in any industry involving a working partnership—and that is exactly what you and the publisher are forming by signing that contract. You are a not an employee, the publisher is not the boss, but the two of you are bound by a contract you are both professionally obligated to comply with once signed or be in breech—and that’s not where anyone ever wants to be.
You’re an adult and the publisher is not going to hold your hand and do it all for you. You and the publisher will both have certain obligations to follow that are locked in by the contract you both sign. Read that contract and make sure you understand it. If you don’t know or understand, ask someone who does know.
In order to sell, you will have to promote, you will have to work, you will have to realize that sales will not happen if you don’t market yourself.
Wrongdoing. It happens in any industry. When a company does an author wrong, the author has the right to warn potential authors and so does a publisher have the same right in regards to other publishers when wronged by an author. It’s in the handling that one’s reputation stands out.
If you are being wronged, speak up as there is nothing that says keep such quiet. However, all parties should beware of committing slander, libel or defamation. Either side, when alerting any source/s, will need proof.
The publishing industry has a hellacious memory and just as authors talk about bad publishers, so do publishers talk about bad authors—the door goes both ways. The trick is how professional involved parties behave.
A web presence is a connection to the world and there is no take-back, no rewind, no undo—once it’s out there, it’s out there forever. The way you behave on the web will follow you—this goes for all people, no matter the industry.
Use your head, be as industry savvy as possible and be professional. The knowledge is out there—use it.

Thank you so much Jay for taking the time to do the interview and sharing such wonderful information! Submission guidelines can be found at:
eXtasy Books:
Devine Destinies:

Remember, for those who comment on any of the posts on the blog, including this one, your name will go in the hat for January’s drawing! Details for the drawing can be found here:


Terra Pennington said...

Great interview. I enjoyed see what the life of a EIC is like. It is cool to be able to have the best of both worlds and get paid to do something that you love.


C.R. Moss said...

Thanks, Terra, for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the interview.
C.R. Moss

Robin_Badillo said...

Yep! That's our Jay!! She's one of a kind and loved dearly. Thank you for interviewing her so everyone else may enjoy her as much as the authors at eX and DD already do!!

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Great interview! Though I've been published by others I learned the most, and still am learning, from Jay. What an incredible editor and what an amazing, understanding person she is. My hats off to you ;)))

Grace Elliot said...

As an author it's always intersting to get a glimpse 'over the fence.' Helpful comments duly logged.
Grace x

C.R. Moss said...

Thanks for stopping by Robin, Mick & Grace! Jay is one of kind and an awesome lady. I'm glad she was willing to be interviewed and that her expertise and comments offered here are valued.
C.R. Moss

Anonymous said...

Positively fascinating and eye-opening interview. Very well done and what an amazing editor you must be.
Liz Arnold

C.R. Moss said...

Thanks for stopping by Liz!
Glad you liked the interview.
C.R. Moss

Jude Mason said...

What do you mean, 'There's no such thing as perfection?'

I'm crushed...Hehehe! I'm also waiting for the instant stardom and Santa Claus, but that's another story.

Jay, C.R., this was a fantastic interview. So much of what you said rings true and sensible. I'm so looking forward to working with you.


C.R. Moss said...

Hi Jude! Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice compliment on the interview!
C.R. Moss

Dee Brice said...

Having just completed edits with Jay, I vouch for her great sense of humor and willingness to let me stay true to my voice and the story. Thanks, Jay, you are truly one of a kind!
Dee Brice
Erotic Fantasies Where Nothing is Forbidden

Jay Austin, EIC said...

I just wanted to say thank you, CR, for interviewing me as it was fun.
Terra, you should see what it’s like on release days—mad scientists have nothing on rushing EICs. :)
Thank you, Robin, Mick and Dee. An author’s kind words mean much to those of us working behind the scene.
Glad to offer any advice, Grace.
Thank you, Liz, I try to be the best I can for the authors I work with and the companies.
Yes, Jude, there is a Santa Claus, but—never mind, he’s climbing back into his sleigh—for now. ;)

C.R. Moss said...

Thanks for stopping by Dee! I'll make sure Jay sees your flattering comment. :)
and all the others too, of course.
C.R. Moss

Lynn Crain said...

It's always cool listening to J! Just love her and glad to see her exotic pet list. LOL!

Thanks for the wonderful interview, CR!


C.R. Moss said...

Thanks for stopping by Lynn! Yeah, wasn't her choice of pets interesting? :D
C.R. Moss