Spotlight On … Book Editors week continues with Kassia Krozser from Booksquare.com and Quartet Press. Kassia offered not only some useful tips and insights into book editing along with a strong dose of laugh out loud humor. Kassia’s a busy woman these days, so kick back and enjoy what she has to offer in today’s interview.
Tell us more about yourself. As an author, I love learning new and interesting things about an editor.
I am a lifelong reader and writer. I know, I know, everyone says that! My mom finally had to relent and agree that reading on the porch counted as playing outside. Of course, she was an enabler, being my elementary school librarian. I got all the books first. This surely contributes to my sense of entitlement.
My writing background is as mix of journalism and fiction. When it comes to journalism, I did learn, rather quickly, that my opinions are far too strong for news reporting. I’ve found other outlets that are better suited to my non-fiction style (Booksquare.com being the primary outlet for this stuff!). I am one of those people who thinks through her fingers. Hmm, I probably shouldn’t admit that.
If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?
I don’t understand this phrase “free time”, give me sec.
Okay, I’ve looked it up. Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun. Seriously, I read and write All Day Long, so when it comes to my free time, I do a lot of cooking, staring off into space, knitting, and watching television. Often, I’m doing a mix of things. I have my Kindle on while I’m cooking, reading and stirring. I’ll knit while I’m thinking. And I’ll drink wine while watching television .
I wouldn’t mind using those two hours for a nice massage, if anyone has a spare!
Are you an author turned editor?
I am an author turned editor, but we are not publishing anything written by me (or any other Quartet staff). In some ways, all authors must be editors, I just happen to like the process. As an author, I understand the creative process (see above re: staring off into space, such an important part of the job). I know how to structure stories. I’ve studied fiction writing extensively. Even if you’ve taken a class on point of view before, you will always learn something new.
When did you edit your first book?
Hmm, that was in the late 1980s. It was an accident. I was helping a friend. Since then, I’ve done work off and on. I like the process of editing.
I will note, for the record, that I will not be the only editor on staff. We’re hiring some very good people for our editorial department. I am a huge, massive true believer in the power of a good editor.
Why editing? We often ask other authors what made you start writing, as a book editor, what made you start editing?
Writing and editing are two very different skill sets. When I write, I just let it flow. I have a huge mess at the end of the day (which makes me admire beyond words people who carefully craft their work; I wish I could!). The next process for me is to let it sit, then start shaping*. I am ruthless with myself. It’s a layered process, find the story, find the characters, emotion, internalization, nuance.
The crazy thing is, I love the editing almost more than the raw writing. For me, that’s when the story really happens. But it’s painful because I’m so close to the words. In many ways, it’s easier to see all the pieces when you’re working with someone else’s story. You don’t have that same emotional involvement, the love of a single word or phrase that blinds you. I read, I step back, I think, I dive in.
* Anyone who reads Booksquare can probably guess I am bad about this step there as I’m usually rushing up to my self-imposed deadline!
Share a little bit about the process you go through with an author for line edits?
I usually read a manuscript a few times. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, then I dive in. First step is big picture stuff. I’m working right now with an author who has a really good story, but introduced elements that threw the core story off track. My job was to look at all the pieces and offer suggestions (in this case, cutting an entire character/sub-plot) to make the entire story come together. I look at characters — what do they want, what are they doing? Does it make sense. Lots of details. My story notes, while hopefully not overwhelming, are a mix of observations, ideas, and questions.
I ask a lot of questions — why?, huh?, what is the goal here? Authors don’t have to hit readers over the head with information, but they do need to make some sort of sense. It’s important to establish the scene, establish the characters, show them to the reader. World-building is important, whether the story is set in modern day Manhattan or a futuristic universe. Details need to be concrete.
Copy editing is different from line editing, but do you develop the same rapport with a writer?
I do a little copy editing while I’m line editing. Minor stuff usually because things will change during revisions. I’ll check facts and concepts if they feel off during the big picture phase. The actual copy editing will be done by another person, of course, because it’s a different skill and fresh eyes are required.
How can you as an editor help a writer achieve their creative vision?
Is it difficult to not interject your own vision on what the author is doing? How do you walk that fine line?
It is hard, so it’s a matter of checking my ego. I do not believe anyone can write without some bias. I have to make sure what I’m saying and suggesting is true to the author’s style and story. And make it clear that this isn’t my book — the author needs to take suggestions and consider them in the context of her own work. The entire process needs to a be a dialogue. While I have strong opinions, the author knows what’s right for that story.
From my own personal experience, I would say my editor labored lovingly to help produce a better work, do you feel a kinship with each piece you edit?
I think a kinship is inevitable. Writing is a solo process, publishing is a collaborative process. The editor is the person, outside of the author, who is closest to the work. I don’t know a single editor who doesn’t put a piece of him or herself into the story. That’s a really good thing.
What is the best part of editing others?
Seeing things the author doesn’t because she’s too close to the story. It’s something I appreciate when others read my own work.
What is your pet peeve when you’re editing?
Brand-name dropping. A little goes a long way, a lot sounds like a department store. Use the other senses to convey quality, luxury, style.
Finally, What is the best piece of advice you can offer an author or aspiring author about the author/editor relationship?
It’s your story, trust yourself. Editors don’t exist to destroy your story, but they aren’t always right (except me!). If it feels wrong, talk to your editor, work through the issue.
Please add a blurb for your company, your own work.
Quartet Press is focused on creating the best possible experience for our readers. This means working with great authors and publishing great stories. Personally, I am proud beyond belief of this publishing company. I’ve been running Booksquare.com for years, and talking with publishers about the changes coming to the publishing industry, and it’s exciting to be part of the future.
What a great week this has been so far! Tomorrow we offer you a little something different as we interview publisher Don Linn who along with Kassia and several others founded Quartet Press. See you then!