skip to Main Content
Interview With Kris Spisak—The Grammar Doctor Is In: Inspirational Indie Authors Podcast

Interview with Kris Spisak—The Grammar Doctor Is In: Inspirational Indie Authors Podcast

My guest this week is Kris Spisak, who discovered that her self-publishing niche is to help other self-publishers focus on their writing and grammar. Her books, Get a Grip on Your Grammar, and The Novel Editing Workbook, along with her popular blog and editing business, are helping to raise the quality of all indie authors’ work. Plus, admit it, you sometimes pause before you write “affect” or “effect.” It’s nice that Kris is there to give us answers. 

Every week I interview a member of ALLi to talk about their writing and what inspires them, and why they are inspiring to other authors.

A few highlights from our interview:

Kris SpisakOn the Grammar in Songs

Who’s right? Is it Beyonce “If I Were a Boy”, or is it Gwen Stefani “If I Was A Rich Girl,” and so I just always love going into these subtleties because people feel so passionately and strongly and sometimes they’re getting behind an artist more than the logic of grammar.

On Choosing an Editor

An editor relationship is, I swear it’s like a marriage. You have to find the right fit of making sure the editor knows what you’re looking for, making sure you know what an editor actually does. An editor is not necessarily a ghostwriter who you will hand the manuscript in a really rough form and then the editor will whip into shape and say, “here you go, you’re done.”

Listen to My Interview with Kris Spisak

Subscribe to our Ask ALLi podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or Spotify.

Subscribe on iTunes   Stitcher Podcast Logo for link to ALLi podcast   Player.fm for podcasts   Overcast.fm logo   Pocket Casts Logo  

On Inspirational Indie Authors, @howard_lovy interviews @KrisSpisak, who discovered that her self-publishing niche is to help other indie authors focus on their writing and grammar. Click To Tweet

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Self-publishing Author Advice Centerhttps://selfpublishingadvice.org, with a huge archive of nearly 2,000 blog posts, and a handy search box to find key info on the topic you need.

And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

About the Host

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and has spent the last six years amplifying the voices of independent publishers and authors. He works with authors as a book editor to prepare their work to be published. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads. Find Howard at howardlovy.comLinkedIn and Twitter.

Read the Transcript of my Interview with Kris Spisak

My guest this week is Kris Spisak, who discovered that her self-publishing niche is to help other Self Publishers focus on their writing and grammar. Her books “Get a Grip on your Grammar” and “The Novel Editing Workbook”, along with her popular blog and editing business, are helping to raise the quality of all indie authors work plus admitted, you sometimes pause before you write affect or effect. It’s nice that Kris is there to give us answers.

Kris: Hi, this is Kris Spisak and I am an author and an editor on a mission to change the world through the power of words and storytelling. The writing bug bit me when I was a child, I remember I wrote my first book in Kindergarten and I wrote my first chapter book in fourth grade. So that bug has been there for a long time, combined with a bunch of family stories that I just was struck by my entire life. And I just love the power of thinking and learning and being fascinated by and laughing by story.

Howard:  In college, Kris battled with two halves of herself, the scientific and practical and the writing side. In the end, writing won.

Kris: So, I went to college and had a double major initially where I was going to be a doctor and a writer at the same time, and I had this lovely biology English double major, which made no sense to anyone. But as I went through my college experience, I realized that were what’s the passion. The passion was for the creative for the writing through the empowering stories and ideas through being able to really communicate them well. So, I did a lot of playing with business writing and business, communicating and business storytelling. But ultimately, I did drop the biology half of my major and stuck with my English major. And then I ended up going to graduate school for what was the best graduate degree for a writer in my humble opinion. However, it’s not a marketable degree that you would ever find a job for I have a Master of Liberal Arts, which means I am a master. I’m jack of all trades, which is fabulous for a writer and an editor. So, I know a little bit about so many things.

Howard: And with that degree, Kris began teaching writing while also working on novels of her own. But as she discovered almost by accident, but really connected with readers was her writing on how to write.

Kris: While I was teaching. I just started kind of playing on the side of, what am I interested in writing and I was playing with fiction at the time, I was playing a little bit with poetry. But on the side, I was doing a lot of editing projects on the side, I just started this little blog and it became something that jumped off of Facebook that I started writing a little post down of, okay, It might be time, English might be your native language. But we forget things all the time. There are subtleties to this language that we just don’t pay attention to and it’s time to pay attention.

So, I started off little playful posts on what is the difference between further versus farther? What is the difference between when you would use “un,” such as “unbelievable” versus “in,” such as inconceivable and when do you use, “un” versus “in,” as a prefix and what is the logic behind that and I started diving deep.

And of course, this is where I find this fascinating, fascinating little details that I get pulled into such as in the original Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson wrote about unalienable rights, not inalienable rights and today we would say inalienable, but Thomas Jefferson wrote about unalienable and suddenly I’m getting pulled down the rabbit hole of language and it became a weekly blog that I worked on entertaining myself more than anyone else talking about Destiny’s Child and their use of all the honeys making money’s. Why is it money’s not money? Is it for the rhyme? Is there a logic difference between money and monies?

So, I just was entertaining myself through this blog, and I had a lot of people who are telling me when’s the book coming? When’s the book coming out? And it just started expanding, I found that it was being used in college classrooms, I found out all of these people were reading my blog, and I’m a big analytics person. So, I’m sitting here looking at Google Analytics and realizing how many people are actually reading my weekly blog. It was an amazing process. And so I was convinced to Indie Publish my first book.

Howard: She called it “Alright? Not All Right,” which she admits only makes sense when you look at it spelled two different ways. So, she put the book out into the world via self publishing and that led to Offer by an unnamed major online dictionary

Kris: So I have this phone call with this guy from one of the major online dictionaries and he’s offering me money for my little indie published eBook, and he said, okay, we would love to have this title for our library, we just want to take your name off of it, and we would love it if you stopped your blog.

I have this moment of I am being offered money for a project that I was doing for fun that I wasn’t even originally trying to sell. But he wants me to stop and it’s this moment of I built a brand almost accidentally purely entertaining myself and some writing trends and I could stop and take a check, or I could keep going.

Howard: She decided to keep going. It was difficult to turn down the money, but not too difficult. Instead, she contacted a literary agent who helped her get her first traditional publishing deal for a book Called “Get A Grip on Your Grammar” it was very well received one critic called it the “Elements of Style for the Twitter generation.”

Kris: So, it has a focus on word choice and all the subtleties we may think we know, but don’t the difference between, loath and loathe, the difference between inquire, with an I, versus enquire with an e. When James Brown says, “I feel good,” oh my gosh, was he right? Should he have said “I feel well?”

I guess it goes into word choice doesn’t the punctuation it goes into business communications, storytelling and proper idioms, those are the five chapters of that book.

If you ask me a question and want help, I will help you day and night nonstop. However, I’m not one who’s ever going to correct you on social media or even in conversation because you know what, everybody’s human. We live in a fast-paced world, things happen. However, we all just need to try so much harder — that’s where I’m going to preach night and day. That if you actually take the time with your communications, whether you are writing that next great novel, whether you are trying to change the world through a screenplay or any else, anything else, you’re working on, your resume, you just need to try harder and on social media, we absolutely need to try harder. I do a lot of writing conferences around I have a program that’s kind of a game show-eque as a program that I do with different creative writing audiences. And one of my favorite ones is looking at Beyonce versus Gwen Stefanie, because Beyonce has this song “If I Were a Boy” and Gwen Stefani has the play on the old Fiddler on the Roof song of her version is “If I Was a Rich Girl.”

Who’s right? Is it Beyonce “If I Were a Boy”, or is it Gwen Stefani “If I Was A Rich Girl,” and so I just always love going into these subtleties because people feel so passionately and strongly and sometimes they’re getting behind an artist more than the logic of grammar.

Howard: So, Kris was onto something here with teaching grammar in a fun way. She quit her day job as a teacher and went into full time editing. She works primarily with fiction writers getting their manuscripts perfect to sell.

Kris: So, I’ve been working with writers for about 10 years as an editor and it’s been so much fun just diving deep to help people find the stories that they want to tell. The story that they knew in their head when they started this process that maybe didn’t come out on that first draft and that is the moment where I said, “you know what, I know exactly what I want my next book to be.” And I’m a small business owner. I’ve had my editing business for over 10 years now and I want I have the full control to be able to do this exactly how I want to kind of build my creative team. I know lots of other editors. I know book cover designers. I know formatters, because it’s not self publishing that you were doing this by yourself.

Kris SpisakIndie publishing to do it well means that you are professional and creating that team. I know I’m preaching to the choir here on that. But I realized I could make my own next project. So that is where “The Novel Editing Workbook to be. It’s a collection of 105 tricks and tips for revising your fiction manuscripts and I should say self revising. Because so often people think of editing with punctuation, but it is techniques and exercises. You can take your finished manuscript and walk it through all of these different exercises and in the end, come out with a product that is ready for the next step.

Howard: Kris says that picking an editor is an important and sometimes very personal process.

Kris: An editor relationship is, I swear it’s like a marriage. You have to find the right fit of making sure the editor knows what you’re looking for, making sure you know what an editor actually does. An editor is not necessarily a ghostwriter who you will hand the manuscript in a really rough form and then the editor will whip into shape and say, “here you go, you’re done.”

Depending on what you’re looking for, there are editors of different levels, and you need to know what your book needs not what you want your book to need, but you need to know where your book actually is in the process and whether you need that developmental edit, whether you need that copy, edit, whether you are ready for the final proofread or line edit also, maybe a sample edit as well, even if it’s just a one page a one page sample edit with someone can be a powerful process so you will understand what you will be getting back from this person.

Sometimes different editors have different specialties. Not all editors do all levels of editing. Not all editors are masters of every genre. Myself, for example, I never touched fantasy or science fiction because I’m not a prolific reader of those genres. I have a lot of friends who are writers in those areas, and I love reading their work. But there are tropes and subtleties to those genres, that I could never call myself a professional editor working there because I just don’t know it well enough.

I have my genre or my specialties, and that’s where I focus and in good editor most likely will have places where they work in places where they don’t.

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in journalism, from newspapers to magazines specializing in business, science, and technology. He has spent the past few years guiding coverage of independent publishing, amplifying voices of the marginalized. Howard is also a book doctor who enjoys working with authors to get their work ready for publication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top
Loading...