Friday 7 December 2018

Indie Spotlight: Crystal Watanabe

Indie spotlight focuses on self-publishing and indie authors. When Christie Dao, a Vietnamese-American now based in Singapore, self-published her inspirational book, Actualize Your Dreams, she felt it was important to work with an Asian-American editor. She chose Crystal Watanabe. Here, Christie interviews Crystal.

Crystal Watanabe has loved books all her life. As a child she would hide under the covers to read with a flashlight. It’s no wonder she has a way with words. Her client testimonials cheer in unison. Crystal is an author, editor, blogger, and fansite administrator. She published Yum-Yum Bento Box in 2010 and its sequel, Yum-Yum Bento All Year Round, in 2013, Crystal was invited to the Ender’s Game Los Angeles red carpet premiere to cover her fansite, There, she interviewed stars many of us dream of meeting including: Harrison Ford (Colonel Graff); Sir Ben Kingsley (Mazer Rackham); Viola Davis (Major Anderson); and Asa Butterfield (Ender Wiggin).

Though writing and winning awards is fun, helping authors to achieve their publishing dreams is Crystal’s dream job.  Today Crystal runs Pikko’s House based in Hawaii where she and her small team have edited over 100 books in the last 4 years. She was born and raised in Hawaii, and her diverse worldview has attracted 150 clients globally, both in self-published and traditionally published circles. Crystal edits in all genres, but her area of focus is science fiction and fantasy. 

What inspires you?
Great stories inspire me, whether they're true or fictional. I love hearing about the journeys of people and characters.

It’s fascinating to learn how you turned a side project into a more satisfying career as a full-time editor. How does your profession relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
My business has really become such a core part of me. I was previously very listless and lazy, and I felt terrible about myself when I was working in an office. I felt like my degree in English was wasted, and I'm so happy that I can be doing this for a living now.

Can you tell me anything of interesting people you have met during the course of your work?
One of my clients used to be a criminologist, and now she writes fiction for a living. Another of my clients is a first-time author who is a well-known cosplayer. Her design work is astounding, and I can't wait for her book release!

What is the most satisfying part of editing books?
That editors learn about grammar, words, the world, and the written language they specialize in every day while working. Editing is so fulfilling in that way!

What is the most interesting thing about editing that people may not know?
The hardest part is the pressure and fear that you will get things wrong, but this is also one of the best parts because it serves as fantastic motivation for doing your best.

What do you think about the representation of Asian-Americans in the editing community?
I don't know a lot of Asian American editors, but I have two on my staff.

What is it like to work with people with an Asian background?
I don't actually work with a lot of clients with Asian backgrounds, but in my limited experience, it's just like working with any other client. That's probably because overall, I have fantastic clients!

What projects are you working on now?
I'm working on quite a few projects right now including two big fantasy novels and two middle-grade fantasy novels.

What advice do you have for upcoming editors?
Work hard and never put yourself above learning more about your craft. There's always room for improvement.

When I was working with you I always wondered how you gave direct yet awakening feedback so gently. Can you tell me your strategy? 
I just try to talk to clients how I'd want to be talked to. I usually want honest feedback, but I don't want it in a rude or contentious way.