Alisa Krasnostein from Twelfth Planet Press has kindly agreed to be interviewed for this series of editor interviews. Twelfth Planet Press and Alisa have garnered a number of awards. The latest is a nomination for the World Fantasy Awards for her work with Twelfth Planet Press in the Special Awards, non-professional category.
Her website is here.
AK: I’ve been editing for over a decade. I started editing nonfiction and was employed by my uni department to work on editing various articles for publicity and so on. I’ve also edited a few scientific journal articles and reports. I moved into fiction in about 2005 when I set up my own small press. I’m an engineer in my day job and editor and publisher at Twelfth Planet Press.
Why did you become an editor?
AK: I love editing. I think I have the skill of reading or hearing what someone is saying and then helping to translate that to a wider audience. It’s where I started in nonfiction editing. I really enjoy reading technical scientific pieces and reworking them for more mainstream consumption.
I became a fiction editor because I wanted to influence the kind of fiction being published in Australian speculative fiction. Actually, as it turns out, that’s why you become a publisher, but I didn’t know that at the time.
What is the most important aspect of your editing role?
AK: Buying great material in the first place. Obviously I only edit work that I am buying to publish and so the choosing of pieces is the most critical aspect on the outcome of the project.
I think the second most important aspect is building a rapport with the author I’m working with. Sometimes that means being supportive and encouraging to get a self doubting author to keep on writing or working on a project. Sometimes that means being able to nudge them to hurry up on a deadline. And most importantly it means being in sync on the direction you’re both heading and the route you’re taking to get there.
Which areas of editing to you find the most enjoyable?
AK: I really enjoy the back and forth synergy with an author as we work on a story. I really enjoy working with authors who are open to feedback and criticism on where a story may not be working. I don’t see my role as making suggestions on how to fix a problem and I very much enjoy seeing skilful writers go away, work on it and bring back a new draft. Sometimes, you can’t even see exactly what they did to fix it (unless you use the track changes function) and it amazes me how sometimes a piece only needs the slightest of massaging to get it into place. I love being wowed by writers who can do that. I love how sometimes it takes an outsider to point to the flaw in the glass that the writer can’t see but then they go away and polish it up so that you can no longer even see where it was.
I also really enjoy reader feedback. Hearing what other people think of your editorial choices, and whether readers agree or disagree is really interesting. And of course, the ultimate high is uncovering a hidden or undiscovered gem. Or finding a new writer first.
In your view can editing be taught?
AK: I think everything can be taught and learned.
How do you define the editing role?
AK: In small press, the editing roles are much broader and more encompassing than in bigger publishing houses. In small press, editors work from acquisition (the much loathed slushing process), rewrite, copy editing, proofing, proofing the layout before and after print. And also, beyond that into sales and promotion.
To me, an editor needs to be immersed in the genre they edit so they can discern what is truly original and fresh. They also need to be the confidante, morale booster, timekeeper and deadline pusher to the writer. And then the aspects of editing such as structure, pacing, character development, typos, commas etc kick in.
What do you look for when employing an editor or working with an editor?
AK: Synergy and shared vision. Someone with a keen eye for the technical side of story telling and also a sharp eye for copy editing.
What areas of editing do you find most challenging?
- · project management,
- · copy editing,
- · proofing, promotion,
- · marketing,
- · dealing with authors,
- · dealing with acquisitions?
AK: Time (and money) and lack of (both) is the area I find most challenging. I love all of the above mechanics of editing. And the only thing I regret is not having enough time to spend more on each of them. Sometimes authors are difficult to deal with. That requires tact and strength and sometimes you have to go in directions that are regretful and unpleasant. But those experiences have also helped me head off at the pass similar ones next time.
What do you find rewarding about editing?
AK: Being the first person to read a work that you know everyone will be talking about in the future. And then bringing manuscripts into real books and selling them to readers who love them. All of which is not necessarily “editing” per se. I really love collaborating with writers to make a manuscript into the best it can be. And when you have emails back and forth as creative sparks fly, that’s the real high.
Do you have any advice to aspiring editors?
AK: Read a lot in the genre you want to edit in. Read industry publications to find out what’s happening in acquisition, commission and development in the bigger presses. Remember that editing is not writing – don’t get in the way of the story and the way the author is choosing to tell it. Don’t edit for your style, edit for the style of the author.
For new entrants to the market, where is a good place to start in the editing field?
AK: I think interning is a good way to get experience and also to show what your skills are.