Keriann McKenna ~ Editor's Blog

Keriann Edits!

As an editor and an author, the best advice I can give anyone is do not edit your own book! Your brain knows what you intended to write, and it will see what you intended to write even if you didn't write it exactly as you intended. Before your book is released, it needs a pair of fresh eyes.

When doing a content or developmental edit, I prefer to work with an author before the book is finished. However, I will edit a completed work. The authors with whom I've worked have called me a teaching editor. Working with me is easy; I'm not harsh or inflexible, and above all, I am kind and encouraging. I correct, I repair, and reword; I may suggest rearranging sentences and where they are placed. Anytime I make a suggestion or correction, I tell you why unless it's obvious. I believe it's not only my job to edit your book, but in the process to help you become a better writer. Looking for plot holes is a big part of the work as is keeping every character in his/her unique role within the book. It's also important to make sure one character doesn't slip into the voice of another character. So, I get to know each voice, including yours. An example would be you using the words 'as well' when you speak, and pretty soon all of your characters say 'as well' when they speak. In real life, that's not likely to be the case.

I do two passes, returning the manuscript with track changes to you after the first pass. You accept or reject the changes and send it back to me. The second pass is deeper, where I look for repetitive word use, look at tag lines where they can be more descriptive and add feeling or emotion, and make sure we've caught all the typos and punctuation errors. Then together we polish every scene until it shines, and I do a final listen to your book.

If you are looking for an editor, please contact me. I edit most genres including contemporary and historical romance from sweet to steamy, paranormal, fantasy, young adult, shifters, time travel, mystery, memoirs, and distopian, as well as non-fiction with the following exceptions:

  • horror - I like to sleep at night
  • books containing violence toward children and women
  • books containing non-consensual sex

    I'll read 3 chapters of your manuscript and give you an estimate. We can talk about money, whether or not we need a contract, what you can pay upfront, if anything, and I will make payment arrangements if you need to. It's important, especially for new authors, to keep the cost of publishing affordable. Unless your book requires hours and hours on intense editing, my usual rate is .005 per word.

    I like to have an initial phone call, then we can work via email and talk when our schedules permit. It's also a good way to find out if we make a good team...teamwork is important.

    The author always gets the final say...that's how it works with freelance editors. I do request editorial credit in the contributor section of any distributor with whom your manuscript is published, and give a small discount to authors who are willing to give the credit.

    I do what may be called Developmental Edits or Deep Content Edits, as well as general edits for grammar, sentence structure, pronoun confusion, and punctuation. Some authors will begin a book with the backstory so their readers will know who, what, and where they are talking about. Occasionally, this is necessary and will work as long as it contains the "hook" required to keep the reader interested. There are times when the backstory can be incorporated into the body of the story as it unfolds, and I think that's preferable.

    I will be happy to provide references and testimonials upon request. You can contact me at Keriann McKenna.


    It may seem silly to begin with some basics, but small words used incorrectly can make or break a good book and certainly result in some poor reviews. An author can shine by using good grammar and punctuation and it's not difficult to learn the rules. Below are some of the most common mistakes I find in addition to overused words or phrases.

    Let's keep it simple. Beginning with grammar, some of the most common mistakes are:


    Than is most often used when one is making a comparison. I'd rather cook from scratch than eat junk food.

    Then often specifies a time or an order in which things happen. Thunder rumbled, lightening flashed, then the rain fell from the sky. The amount of time then implies need not be specified; it can be immediate if we say right then and there.

    There can indicate a place. It can be a place you have been to, are going to, or a place where you have put something. Additionally, it doesn't have to be a physical place. I love Paris; I've been there several times. Been there, done that, didn't get the tee shirt. At the start of a conversation in which you do not wish to participate, there's always Forget it, I'm not going there. It can also be used to call attention, as in There, now you've done it! There is also used to console. Holding the child, the mother patted his back saying, "There, there, there."

    Their is the possessive pronoun of they. It is used to describe something which usually belongs to someone or more than one person. If I am writing about the emotions, residence, car, or any other possession of others, I use their emotions, their residence, their car, and their belongings.

    They're is a contraction for they are.

    Was is the first and third person singular past tense of be. Don't let that confuse you. If I am writing about myself, I write I was there. If I am writing about myself from a third person point of view, Keriann was there. I and Keriann are singular. If I am writing about another person, he was there. He is singular.

    Were is actually second person past tense. Don't let that confuse you either. If I am writing about myself and another person, I write we were there or Keriann and her brother were there. I can say "We were just talking about that." I should not say "We was just talking about that." We is not singular, it is plural; was is singular. They just don't go together.

    Which vs that vs who confuses many writers. It is easily figured out. If you are writing a sentence and want to add information you think is not essential for the reader to know, you might add a non-restrictive clause. If it is extra information and does not change the meaning of the sentence, use which. It helps me to remember that witches can fly away and I've still got a good sentence.

    If the information you want to add is essential to the reader, if leaving it out could confuse the reader because you are not specific enough, or if leaving it out changes the meaning of the sentence, add a restrictive clause and use that.

    If you are referring to a person, use who or whom. Who is quickly replacing whom today in most contexts. You are less likely to be called out by an editor for using who when whom is correct. A simple way to remember whether to use who or whom is to turn your sentence into a question. If the answer is he, use who. If the answer is him, use whom.

    Sometimes we confuse who with that. We write "The dog who bit my child should be confined to be sure it doesn't have rabies." You would correctly write "The dog that bit my child should be confined to be sure it doesn't have rabies." -OR - "The lady in the hat was the one that helped me. We should write "The lady in the hat was the one who helped me." The lady is a who whether or not she resides in Whoville. In other words, she is a person and if we asked about her, we would say "Who is that?" So, easy to remember who belongs with people or beings, that belongs with animals or inanimate objects.

    Very simple examples for which vs that:

    The antique vase, which was blue, fell to the floor and shattered. If the color of the vase is not essential to your story, which is used if you are determined to tell your reader the color of the vase.

    The antique vase, that had been a wedding gift from her grandmother, fell to the floor and shattered. Here we decide the information about the vase being given to her by her Grandmother is important to the reader, and we use that. Even better, leave "that" out entirely and write:
    The antique vase, a wedding gift from her grandmother, fell to the floor and shattered.

    Be aware that many editors strike the word "that" because a sentence will read perfectly fine without it.

    FYI: British authors use that and which interchangeably.

    When I'm not so busy editing, there will be more to come...stay tuned. I'd like to add some easy to remember punctuation rules. I use the Chicago Manual of Style when editing, in case you're wondering.