Thursday 1 December 2016

Interview: Jill Corley (Editor and Beta Reader)

I’ve read many interviews of authors and writers, and even done a few on Script Alchemy, but it occurred to me that there’s a group of people more important, or at least as important, as the authors in the book industry. There’s a group of people the industry can’t survive without, and that’s the readers. Today, I’m interviewing Jill Corley, an avid reader, reviewer and editor.

Jill Corley: Editor and Beta Reader

Hi Jill, How are you doing?

I’m doing well, thank you.
I've been following your reviews on Facebook for a while, and I know you on Twitter, so it's good to see you here.
Before we get into talking about your reading and editing, how about we get to know a little about you first. What’s your favourite way to pass an hour or two on your own? Apart from reading, reviewing and editing, do you have any other pastimes or hobbies?

Jill's dog, Shadow, playing
with a sinker ball
Shadow gets the better of the ball
I love spending time with my dog, Shadow.  He is my best friend and go-to guy for all things silly.  Several times a day we play with his big sinker-ball until we are both exhausted.  Then I sit on the porch swing with a cup of coffee while he chases the squirrels out of our yard.  He still doesn’t quite get why he can’t climb a tree!

Pocono Mountains
Decorating and DIY projects interest me. Watching Property Brothers and Fixer Upper to get ideas is one of the things that can get me into trouble because it adds to the honey-do list. 
We take rides to the Pocono Mountains and I love to take pictures of the scenery.  With digital the bad ones are gone so easily; no more developing film only to find they were not well done.  I’m not bad, but I’d like to take classes in the future. We also enjoy visiting historic sites that are within a day trip of our home.  
Also, sitting on my patio enjoying my rose garden and the parsley plant that grew over 100 swallowtail butterflies this year
...and spending a few moments on social media trying to catch up with family and friends.  Meeting friends for lunch or dinner is always fun, too.

Black Beauty by
Anna Sewell
Shadow's so cute! and the colours in your pic of the Pocono Mountains are so amazing, it makes me want to pick up my camera and come and join you! I have to admit, I had to look up what a 'honey-do' list is... now I know (list of chores to get done made by your partner). So, now we know a bit about what helps you relax, let's talk about your other life - reading. What's the earliest book you can remember reading?
I read a lot of books when I was young, but the most memorable was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell,
which I read the summer between fourth and fifth grade.

Ah, I wonder how many hearts that book captured! It's funny how particular books stand out like that for the rest of your life. I understand you read a lot now. How many books do you read? Do you review all of them?
When Jill isn't reading, she enjoys sitting
in the garden watching butterflies
I’ve read as few as three and as many as ten in a month.  It depends on my family commitments, the size of the book and my beta reading schedule. In this past year, I have concentrated strictly on beta reading my promised books.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t the time to include the ARC reviews.  I hope to be able to read them sometime soon. 
Yes, I do post reviews. All art is subjective and is based on an opinion that is influenced by the reader’s own life experiences.  I do reviews when I can give three to five stars.  I am a tough critic, but I feel I am fair.  I will always list, with reasons, what I like and don’t like about a book.  I also find reviews helpful when deciding whether to buy a book; however, a bad review won’t stop me if I have an interest to see what the writer has to say.

Daffodils in Jill's garden
That's something I like to hear. It bugs me when people don't take a chance on a book or film just because other people say it isn't great. I've often found that my opinion isn't the same as others', and I've thoroughly enjoyed stuff that hasn't been given a top rating (and thoroughly hated stuff that has!) So, what kind of books do you most enjoy? Do you have a favourite genre?
I like things that are hard to place in a specific genre.  I love mythology of all types, paranormal, romance/erotica, suspense/thrillers, sci-fi, realistic fiction, magical realism, historical fiction and non-fiction, mystery, legend/folklore, and humor.  A perfect book for me has all that and a few surprises.
The only types I don’t read are full on horror or occult.

Image by Jill Corley
Is it hard to live your everyday life when you spend so much of your day in fictional worlds and in different periods?
Not at all.  I have a great life and I love living it, but without books it would be…less.  Reading relaxes me.  What could be better than daily travel without ever leaving your chair?  I also learn something new with every book I devour.  Reading enhances my life and is as necessary for me as breathing.

I understand what you mean about everything being 'less' without books. I think every reader and writer would. What about your editing... when did reading turn to editing, and why?
From the very beginning.  I didn’t really know what a beta reader’s job was, so I guess I didn’t conform to the expected version of a standard beta; I always gave more.  I have an eye for spotting problems because I truly love to read; it is my passion. Why not help someone when you have the opportunity? 
If I am spotting things that have been missed by spellcheck and/or problems with plots and character development, then it would surely be a disservice to the writer if I don’t bring it to their attention. 
I also do it because I enjoy the creative aspect of helping someone else reach their dream.

A rose from Jill's garden
Well, it's not surprising you've become so popular with your regular authors then. What a gem you are. Some little birdies (and many excellent testimonials) tell me your useful feedback and solid advice have made you really popular with writers. So much so, that you are turning a full time ‘hobby’ into a full-time business. What encouraged you to make this transition? And when is it going to happen?
Initial credit goes to my husband because he suggested that I was doing much more than reading and maybe I could turn it into a career.  I let the idea twirl around in the back of my mind and I did some research, but wasn’t ready to take the leap on just my husband’s advice.
It was quite a surprise when several writers I worked with encouraged me to begin charging for my services.  After much more research and the blessings of my husband and my very supportive (and returning) writers, I decided it was time to make my dream a reality.
I am set to officially launch my business Jill C CorleyServices, LLC  on Thursday, December 1, 2016.  Services under my business will be broken down into three distinct types and my website will explain what will be done and how much it will cost.  I will also consider any combination of services, including query letters and book cover selections.

I'm sure you're going to be well sought after, from what I've heard.
A tree growing around a
sign in Pocono Mountains
Image: Jill Corley

Just to clarify something, most authors realise the importance of the many levels of editing for such things as plot, charactes, pace, through to a 'search and destroy' on spelling mistakes, bad grammar etc before a book's ready for publication. When you're editing, what sort of things do you particularly look out for?
My writers have always received the full scope of my abilities, unless they have specified otherwise.  I prefer doing a deep edit, which is where I catch everything I possibly can on the first run-through.  I don’t search for issues, I let them reveal themselves as I read the text.  It’s sometimes a concentrated effort if it’s a very complicated plot and the writer has specific concerns.  Usually, I untether my brain and thinking process so I can simply immerse myself into the pages of the story.  Since I didn’t write the story and I’m reading it for the first time, it’s easier for me to spot the issues than it is for the writer.

Spending so much time with books, have you ever thought of writing yourself?
Yes.   I’ve done some ghost-writing during my time as a beta reader, which I found enjoyable and rewarding.  I am sure I will put fingers to keyboard sometime in the future; or maybe pen to paper.

If you every write a book, I'd love to read it, Jill. Thanks very much for coming along today. Would you like to tell people where they can find you?
Twitter: @JillCCorley
Facebook: Jill C. Corley

'Backyard at Daybreak'
Image: Jill Corley


  1. Great interview, Jill and Annelisa!
    Jill is one of the kindest ladies on Twitter! Good luck with your new biz!

    1. I know. That was why it was such a delight to interview her. She works so hard for other people, I figured she also deserved some limelight of her own - as you say, one of the kindest ladies on Twitter, and I'm honoured to know her!

  2. Wonderful interview Jill and Annelisa! What a terrific service Jill offers authors. I'm delighted to have met both of you on Twitter!! Best wishes to both of you.

    1. Thank you MJ! Yes, I totally agree, Jill is a godsend to authors - to have someone so careful, so dedicated to the author's needs and so devoted to giving every author her best possible work, well, that's a rarity. She is definitely that, and it was a pleasure to interview her!
      I know I speak for both of us in saying that we are equally blessed to have met you on Twitter too - an absolute pleasure to know you! :-)

  3. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog! facebook sign in