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!