An Interview With Michelle Rascon

Michelle Rascon is a freelance fiction editor with five years of experience editing for successful self-publishing and traditional authors. Her goal is to strengthen your writing while respecting your unique voice. An introvert at heart, Michelle enjoys naps, reading, gaming, binge-watching medical or crime dramas, and cuddling with her cat.

It’s Sunday. Do you know what that means? It’s interview day! Let’s read, learn and connect with this year’s fantastic bunch of writers, editors and agents. Today’s interviewee is editor Michelle Rascon.

Here’s Michelle’s Advice for Other Writers

“My dearest writers, You do not need to hire an editor to pursue your dream. I say this because editors are expensive. We’re expensive because we’re worth it. We’ve been at this for years, we’ve learned so much along the way, and we do it all day, every day, sometimes for more than … *looks at the clock* 14 hours a day. 

If you have the means to pay for feedback before querying or you’re ready to start your self-publishing business and you can make the investment, then yes, do it. You’ll learn invaluable advice if you hire a good editor for one manuscript that you can apply to all your future manuscripts, so it’s something to save up for, for sure.

But please, please, please do not let lack of finances stop you. There are many free resources available in the vast sea of internet knowledge. There are many authors who are dreaming, who are working, who are struggling, too. Find your people. Keep going. The world needs your stories. Keep struggling, keep working, keep dreaming.


And now the interview

Does editing excite or exhaust you? How do you feel when someone trusts you with their project enough to work with you?
Both! I get excited about diving into new stories, learning about new worlds, and becoming attached to new characters. I love reading new voices come to life, whether it’s the author’s voice or the character’s voice. Helping authors put their vision into reader-friendly words is also exciting. I am lucky to experience so many characters, worlds, and personalities in a short amount of time.

When I’m done with an edit, especially a developmental edit or content review, I am exhausted. I am not only keeping track of the author’s world, characters, and voice, but I’m also researching and fact-checking to make sure I’m giving the appropriate advice in the best way, while teaching the author how to implement that advice in a way that will work for their voice and their manuscript. The entire process is both exciting and exhausting from start to finish. 

There are few better feelings in the world than when someone trusts you with their writing. That can be as an editor, as a beta reader, as a critique partner, as an alpha reader, as an ARC reader, or as a consumer. Writers have to trust themselves first, their readers second, and their editors third. To know someone trusts me with the equivalence of their soul makes me feel joyous and worthy.

How many books/projects have you edited? What common mistakes do you see a lot of in modern writing?
I started my editing business in 2015. Since then, I have edited, as of today, in some form or another, 97 full manuscripts. Many of those manuscripts included two or more rounds of editing. 

A common mistake I see in modern writing is distancing from the main character’s (MC) point of view (POV) by either providing information the MC couldn’t know, switching to a different character’s POV mid-scene, or attempting to write from all POVs (omniscient).

The current market shows that readers want a deeper POV from the MC. They want someone they can attach to and experience the story with, not read about the character experiencing the story. Authors are getting better at developing deep POV as we all learn more about it and how to implement it, and it’s not an easy task by any means.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research as you work through edits? What’s the best thing you’ve learned from someone’s project? (This can be an editing skill, life lesson, historical fact, etc).
These are great questions. I’m not sure if I’m boring or if I don’t find many things strange, but I cannot think of a single strange thing I’ve had to research while working through edits that stands out. I know I’ve had plenty of, “Okay, so I looked it up and…” conversations. I also have a terrible memory. I write everything down. So, there’s probably one in my notes I’ll pull up in three months and curse myself for not remembering it now. So it goes.

The best thing I’ve learned from someone’s project is boundaries. Authors have them. I have them. People have boundaries. I consider boundaries with every project I work on. Is this within the boundaries of what I’m willing to work on? Is this within the boundaries of who I’m willing to work with? Is this within the boundaries of what the author is willing to change? Is this within the boundaries of the service the author requested or paid for? The more I learn about my boundaries (in my career and in my personal life), the better I become as an editor because I know when I offer my advice or perspective, it’s the same I would offer other authors, so my value is consistent with everyone. 

Do you hear from past clients much? Have many gone on to publish works you edited?
Oh, yes. Past clients are my current clients. There are some I don’t stay connected with because we interacted once or twice and purely in a business sense, or they decided not to pursue publishing. I do my best to follow-up with everyone I’ve worked with to see how their career is going. Sometimes my introverted self lurks on their profiles instead of asking them outright. I like to think the authors I work with now are more than clients. I consider many of them friends, and even if we ended our professional relationship, I’d still happily cheer them on and buy their books. 

A lot of the authors I work with are self-published rather than seeking representation. Many of them are best sellers (hooray for us!). There aren’t many who have decided not to publish after working together. A few have been unsuccessful or did not receive what they wanted from self-publishing. Of the few authors I’ve worked with seeking representation, more have published than haven’t.

Who or what inspired your editing journey? Do you also write, or do you stick with editing?
When my son was born in 2011, I earned extra cash by experimenting with my passions. I wrote articles, I managed social media, I even had a couple of blogs. Back in 2015, when I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to be when I grew up, I went back to school to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a high school English teacher. When I got there, I realized that type of teaching wasn’t for me. I needed more. I needed something different. So, I kept writing articles while going to school, then transitioned to editing articles, which led to editing nonfiction books. 

My calling showed itself that summer when I started beta reading, copy editing, and proofreading fiction, which prompted me to open my business. About a month later, I beta read for Jex Lane, best selling author of Captive: Beautiful Monsters Vol. 1. We had previously worked together at a corporation, and when she found out that I was pursuing fiction editing, she hired me. I’ve been learning and applying since.

I’ve written my entire life, never with any intention of publishing. I’ve written short stories, I’ve written poetry, I’ve written journals. So many journals. I’ve yet to write a book. Maybe someday, but it’s not anywhere near a priority for me at this stage in my life. I love editing too much.

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