The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Interview with The Wild Rose Press editor, Kinan Werdski!

So honored and happy to welcome you here today, Kinan! You are my very first guest editor so it is really appreciated that you are willing to share a bit of insight and answer my visitor's questions along the way.

Let's kick off with some questions!

1) What is the best part about your job?

Absolutely the best part of being an editor is watching a rough stone turn into a glittering gem. So often all it takes is for me to offer a fresh eye and a few suggestions, and then the author takes over and makes her writing sing. What a thrill to be midwife to all that creativity and gusto!

2) The worst?

Having to turn down submissions that are not up to snuff. No matter how poorly crafted or incomplete, every work is an effort of love and hope. As an author myself, I know how hard it is to offer up your creation to some stranger’s critical eye. That’s why I love TWRP’s policy of providing positive feedback and specific suggestions when we have to reject a manuscript. It gives me a chance to soften the blow and perhaps help a writer to improve.

3) Does a synopsis feature in your decision to accept a manuscript? Or is it the pages?

A synopsis can provide a basis for looking at a partial, but I make a decision on the pages. By its very nature a synopsis is limited and can offer only the bare bones of a story. What it can do, however, is give a feel for the style and competency of a writer. If she can convey a sense of the emotion as well as the plot, and do so in a clear, well-crafted synopsis, it bodes well for the actual manuscript. A sloppy synopsis, on the other hand, tells me that the writer might be careless about craft, and I will bear that in mind as I look over the manuscript.

4) What would you love to see more of? Sub-genre? Characters?

Brown-eyed brunettes. You know, like most of us. How many green-eyed redheads are there? Judging by the submissions, 99% of the women on this planet have auburn tresses and emerald eyes.

Seriously, I’d love to see women of color and ethnicity, complete with a rich sense of the worlds they live in. Women who have, in addition to emotional depth in their relationships, strong commitments to their jobs and/or families. I’d love to learn about the skills they use in their work. I’d like to see a TV reporter stepping to her mark, a cosmetologist choosing makeup, or a policewoman practicing marksmanship. Telling details make the characters come alive.

As for genres, I’m wide open. I read a lot of science fiction and mystery for pleasure, but as long as it’s well written I’ll read it.

5) What is an acceptable turnaround time for you to get back to an author with a decision on a full manuscript?

As a matter of policy, The Wild Rose Press expects editors to make a decision on a full within 90 days of receipt. As a matter of courtesy, we try our darnedest to cut that down while still giving the manuscript serious consideration.

6) What is your favorite memory as an editor?

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for one of my authors. Although we had worked closely on her book and developed a terrific friendship, we had never met. When I stood up in the audience and introduced myself, she actually squealed.

7) Your least favorite?

Once or twice an author has taken rejection personally. Editors can only make decisions based on the work presented to us, not on how hard the author worked or how much a critique group liked the piece or whether you’ve paid someone to pre-edit. As I said above, it’s always hard to turn a submission, but it’s never personal.

8) Do you believe any sub-genre ever loses popularity? Or should a writer always write what they love?

Of course genres and sub-genres lose popularity. If they didn’t, we’d still be watching The Lone Ranger and I Spy on TV. That doesn’t mean that a well-written white-hat western or tongue-in-cheek secret agent story can’t succeed. (Or how about secret agents rounding up dogies?)It does mean that writers who want to get published need to be aware of what is selling. Write what you love, certainly; otherwise you miss out on the joy of writing. It’s just as important to love what you write. Churning out formulaic stories to conform to pop culture is such a drag.

9) What is on your ‘to do’ list today?

Way too much, as usual. Aside from the day-to-day chores of housework, I need to start some vegetable seeds (I’m writing this in Feb.), take my bike for a tune-up, do some needlework for my grandson’s birthday, and make peanut butter cookies. Oh, you mean editing? I have a big fantasy novel nearing completion, two romances in edits, and several new submissions and a resubmission for review. And I’d like to get in an hour or two on my own writing, a murder mystery called “A Thousand Words.” Guess I’ll be up all night again.

10) What does your workspace look like?

No, I’m not telling you. Suffice it to say that I work best in mild to moderate confusion. It’s not that bad, really. I just need to have things like style manuals, dictionaries, and schedules at my fingertips, and I prefer to have them in hard copy. So there are clumps of papers in neat(ish) piles on the desk, usually with a cat on top of them, and calendars with pretty pictures hanging on the bulletin board. I have two windows looking out on my pond and woods, so I can take mini-vacations watching the wildlife, the clouds, the wind in the leaves…back to work!

Great interview, Kinan - lots of tips and pet peeves there which is what we writers crave! :)

Okay, I'm opening up to comments and questions - I'm sure there will be quite a few!


  1. Thanks for having me, Rachel. Your insightful questions made it a pleasure.
    And now I'm blushing--I cannot believe I missed a mistake on #7, despite making several checks. Just proves that everyone needs an editor! Kudos to the first one to spot it.

  2. Thanks for that really interesting and informative post - I loved having your alter-ego as my editor! Only thing I noticed in #7 was a missed out word (down) but my eyes filled it in until you mentioned it, as our eyes do - which makes proof reading so darned hard and time-consuming!

  3. Enjoyed your post VERY much--and I'm testimony to your brilliant editing skills! Feet to the fire = good product! Thanks, Nikki/Kinan!

  4. You got it, Romy! As you say, proofreading is another whole skill set. Good catch.

    Kinan, aka Nikki, aka Lives with Bears

  5. Super interview. May I ask what skill sets and background one needs to become an editor? English major? How did you break into the business?

  6. Very good interview, ladies. It is always good to hear what the editors think. And I had three very good ones with Wild Rose Press. And an editor named Nikki Andrews was among the best I've had, too. I've learned a lot from every editor I've had except the one at Kensington but I won't go there. It's history!

  7. Excellent question, Vonnie. I always say my best asset is Sister Mary Mary's ruler on my knuckles in second grade English lessons! Those nuns did make sure you learned your grammar.
    I think I broke into the business through the back door. My degree is in French, not English, though the grammar drills in both languages certainly helped. I took some online courses in editing and proofreading to sharpen the skills I had developed as a lifelong writer and reader. Combined with my experience critiquing my writing group, a recommendation from another editor, and the results of my editing test, my credentials convinced TWRP to give me a try.
    I must say, and I think most editors would agree, every manuscript is a learning experience. English is such a robust, flexible language, and people use it in such imaginative ways, that there is no end to the study of it. You just keep learning and growing as an editor, just as you do in your writing.

  8. Thanks, Linda!

  9. I love that you showed up at your author's party. I've worked with three wonderful editors in three different lines at TWRP and would be thrilled to meet any of them in person. I bet you made her day! Thanks for the insights.

  10. Thanks, Jannine. I'd love to meet more of my authors in person. This particular one lived and worked fairly close to me, so I was able to get to her kickoff. Social media are all well and good, but there is nothing like face to face contact.

  11. thank you so much for inviting Kinan to sit on the hot seat. Great information.
    Guilty of writing a blue-eyed redhead! But only once - and, well, that book is getting published. (at the Wild Rose Press tee hee)
    An editor's life has got to be very difficult, and after reading this interview, I have even more respect (which I have a huge amount of already) for all editors at WRP.
    Thanks, Rachel!

  12. Hi Lynne, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments. TWRP has some amazing editors as well as wonderful writers.

    I'll let the blue-eyed redhead pass--this time .


  13. Wonderful interview. Very informative. Thanks for taking the time! I have a lot of respect for the editor's at TWRP. I've worked with two so far and both have been wonderful.

  14. SOOO glad you stopped by Kinan! Really great posts and responses - three cheers to the WRP editors. Hip, hip...

    R x

  15. Thanks again for having me, Rachel. And thanks to everyone for dropping in for a chat.

  16. Great interview, Kinan. Nice to have some insight into how an editor works. Do you have particular mistakes or weak points you see a lot of?


  17. Hi Liz,good to hear from you.
    I see the usual--telling v. showing, weak technical skills, and POV slippage. Many basically good stories are turned down because they need too much work on the craft of writing. Grammar, spelling, and word usage are important, because they are the tools we use to express our ideas. If I could give only one bit of advice to writers, it would be this--learn the basics. Get and use a good grammar guide, style manual, dictionary and thesaurus. They will repay your investment many times over.

    Sorry, I get a little carried away about this. It's a professional hazard.

    Thanks for dropping by.