Home > editing, finals > From intern to editor-at-large, local businesswoman thrives

From intern to editor-at-large, local businesswoman thrives

By Lizzie Mensinger
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Although Heather Lundine has a doctorate degree in English, her love of editing actually began with food and travel.

As an intern at the University of Nebraska Press, she edited a variety of material. But food and travel pieces were always interesting to her. “Those are still my favorite,” Lundine said, “just because they are fun and exciting.”

Now as a developmental editor at Randolph Lundine, a manuscript consulting firm, and an acquiring editor at the West Virginia University Press, she edits a wide range of literature from scholarly articles to fiction.

Heather Lundine

Heather Lundine, co-owner and developing editor of Randolph Lundine manuscript consulting. (Photo courtesy Shannon Claire)

Lundine has lived in Kansas City, Lake Tahoe and Phoenix, but she moved to Nebraska to work on her doctorate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lundine’s internship at the University of Nebraska Press eventually grew into a full-time position.

Now as an acquiring editor for West Virginia University Press, Lundine has the freedom to create the types of books and literary works that she wants to edit. She currently is working on creating a list of books for the university to publish. She reads articles and reaches out to authors to see if they are interested in writing a book or creating a textbook based on their articles.

 If authors agree to write for the West Virginia, Lundine works with them to create their work.  She also edits and reworks each piece before it is sent to press.

  “It’s about making a deal, designing the types of books that you think are best for the company (West Virginia Universityto publish and what is going to be the most interesting, thinking how does one thing fit with another,” she said. “Does a scholarly article translate well into a full book?”

Lundine also plays an active editing role at Randolph Lundine, a manuscript consulting company that she co-owns with Ladette Randolph, editor-in-chief of the journal, Ploughshares, and author of several books. At Randolph Lundine, Lundine works as a developmental editor, a role she describes as “a second set of eyes before the manuscript is sent to a publisher.”

A typical day for Lundine involves going over manuscripts and sifting through masses of emails and articles with the hopes of finding a new project to propose. Lundine said that the best part of her job is when “you are invested in a book or a scholarly work from conception to publishing. And it gets even better if the book goes on to win awards. It definitely gives me a great sense of pride.”

The people who work with Lundine feel the same pride about working with her. Judy Muller, author of “Emus Loose in Egnar: Big Stories from Small Towns,” had this to say about working with Lundine: “After Heather read my first draft, she was encouraging and blunt at the same time… The book that eventually went out to readers was vastly improved because of her editing skills. The excellent reviews that followed, from the Wall Street Journal to National Public Radio, would not have been possible without Heather Lundine’s expert guidance.”

As a manuscript consultant, Lundine says the most common error she finds while editing is that people tend to embellish their words too much. She calls it “purple prose.”

“People often get lost in their own narrative,” she said. “You find that people forget what they learned about writing when they were young, you forget narrative arc, and paragraph structure gets sloppy.” 

As for her best advice to writers, she said: “Use clear, good words. Use the narrative arc, and make sure you know your audience.”

Lundine also posts writing prompts on her website regularly to help her authors grow their skills and to attract new writers.

As developing and acquiring editor, Lundine’s career has been fruitful.  Her editing skills have taken her from an internship to owning her own business. Lundine has a lot on her

“The literary community is wonderful, fast-paced and being a part of it, you are constantly learning,” she said. “Knowing that you may have made a book a little better gives you a great sense of joy and pride.”

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