Jaclyn recently sat down for a virtual coffee chat with the talented K.S. Thomas, author of the newly published romance novel Fruit Punch Kisses, to pick her brain on her editing process, her experience working with editors, and her routine as a writing mom. Get to know one of DeVore Editorial’s favorite clients and explore the mind of a heart-centered creative writer and indie author.
Jaclyn DeVore: Say a little bit about who you are.
K.S. Thomas (Karina): I’m Karina. I’ve been writing and publishing since 2012 primarily under the pen name K.S. Thomas in romance. I dabbled in some other genres as well.
JD: Excellent! So I have a couple of questions for you, but the topics we want to talk about are the magic of editing and a little bit about how you chose your editor, what the author–editor relationship is like, and how you experience the editing process as an author.
Let’s get started!
On the Editing Process
JD: So I was thinking we could share with other writers and editors what our editing process, the back and forth, has been like from your perspective and from my perspective. How do you get your manuscripts ready? What’s your writing and pre-editing process?
KST: So I’m not a big plotter or anything. Usually, I write and the first draft is literally the first draft. Whatever came out is what’s on paper. So then I go through it when it’s complete—I don’t do any editing. I do spot-editing here and there as I’m rereading for whatever writing session, but I don’t do any major edits until I go back after it’s complete, and then I go through the whole thing from start to finish. If I can get anyone else to read through it when it’s in that first draft, I do. I have a few writer friends who, if they have time, look at it and give me some first feedback. So I comb through it a couple of times myself, get it to where I think the story is right, and catch whatever mistakes I can. But as a writer, you know the story. So it makes total sense in my head, but that doesn’t mean it makes total sense on paper. Typos—never gonna see ‘em because my brain just sees what I think is there. So there’s only so much I can get done on my own, and I know that. After I’ve done it a few times, it’s time to put it in front of someone else’s eyes.
JD: Well, I’m impressed you don’t plot because your plots always come together so nicely. I know when we worked together on The Wild in Her Eyes when we talked about making some revisions, you were able to go into certain chapters and just add a couple of plot points. I was just so impressed that it was that easy for you. So you’re very skilled at constructing story, which I think is really cool. What’s your favorite and least favorite parts of the editing process?
KST: I think my favorite and least favorite are the same thing. I love seeing the edits and I get really excited, but then it’s like, oh, now I have work to do! There are two sides to it, but I love getting a step closer and seeing the improvements that have been made and knowing that the story is really coming together. So I get really excited about the feedback. And I like the learning aspect of it. There’s always something I catch where I’m making the same mistake all the time so I get to see how I can fix that going forward or in the next book.
On the Editor’s Aim
JD: I think one of our big jobs as editors is being a good translator—understanding the story as it is in your head and trying to get that version on the page, but also in a way that readers can understand what you’re trying to tell them. That is, to me, the definition of an editor. I’m sure there are some editors who might disagree and say we fix commas, but for me it’s about translating and getting your vision right so other people can enjoy the story that you’re trying to tell. When we’re reading—and this is part of my editing philosophy, and the editors’ who work with me—we try to go through with the lightest touch of editing to preserve what you have on the page. So we’re advocating for the reader’s experience, but we’re also playing devil’s advocate. If we want to make a change, first we say, How could it be right already? and, What’s the smallest possible thing we could do to make it the most right? That’s how we preserve voice, really.
KST: Yes. I definitely felt that when we worked together on the last book. I couldn’t even find the changes. I mean I had to look at it really closely to see where you went in and changed things. And you did—when I looked at the comparison later, you made tons of edits, but you did it in a way that didn’t make me feel like I got back a different story. So that was really important to me.
JD: Good, I’m so glad. I think the analogy I used when we were talking about it back then was something like someone coming in and cleaning your home. It’s like you know it feels a little different, but it’s still recognizably your home.
KST: Yes! You don’t know how it’s different. It’s a little off, but in a good way.
JD: Yeah, it feels cleaner in here but no one’s moved any furniture or anything like that. But that’s good, I’m glad you had that experience because I’m sure you saw when I did send you the markup version that there were a lot. And that’s something that I do. Unless the writer asks for the markup version, I send the tracked changes already accepted so that you don’t get that defense response like, Ugh, so many changes! Because they’re not usually major changes, right? They’re very minor, but it can look like a lot.
KST: Yeah, when it’s all in red? It looks like a lot.
JD: And I also change my settings so that the edits aren’t in red. I don’t know if it translates when I send it, but I do my tracked changes in a golden yellow color. I very rarely do anything in red—just trying to keep it less aggressive. I also did something different with you than I normally do because we worked for so long together on The Wild in Her Eyes. I actually I sent you my physical manuscript that I wrote on, which I never do! Even then, as you could see, I didn’t use red pen.
KST: That’s true, you didn’t. I still have it!
JD: And I’ve said before on these things, when I do live edits, I’m like, You’re going to have to pry this from my cold dead hands! But not for you. I just willingly sent the physical manuscript to you because I knew you’d actually appreciate it. I know some writers are like, Burn it! I don’t want to read it! But you can learn a lot from your edits. Editors want to be a writing partner. So we’re not just correcting your writing; we want to help you learn and improve going forward so you can really deepen your relationship with your writing. And that’s almost a feminist approach to the editing relationship, where we see you as the expert in your book because you are—you wrote it, it’s your material—but we just happen to be experts in language usage and cleaning up a story. We know words, but that doesn’t mean we’re the expert on your book. So we see it as an equal relationship. Because we learn from you, too, about different ways that you execute something in a story. We go, Oh, that’s brilliant! or Oh, that’s so sweet! So it’s nice to be able to learn both ways. When we ask you questions in the manuscript, those are usually either recommendations for clarity or questions to make sure we understand something as it’s written. That’s when I’m advocating for you but also for the reader.
On Working with Bad & Best-Fit Editors
KST: Over the years, I’ve had some really bad experiences with a few editors, and I was afraid to go to anyone because it was back-to-back bad experiences. One editor I thought hated my work. With all of their edits, it seemed like they didn’t understand what I was saying, so I was completely second-guessing myself throughout the entire editing process. I was still really new in the business, so it was not a good first real experience with an editor.
JD: Oh, that’s really discouraging.
KST: Yeah, it was hard. In the long run, it was definitely educational. I learned a lot from that editor, but it made me think I need someone I can connect with. Even if they did their job properly, if they don’t like my writing, then it’s not a good fit. And obviously not everybody likes every style of writing, so I think that’s just a thing to consider. And then I’ve worked with some editors that thought they were better, but really they were not professionals and what they delivered was not necessarily what I was hoping to get. How I found DeVore Editorial was completely on instinct. I thought, okay, I’m gonna look and I’m gonna find an editor right now. I think I was on Instagram and I looked up “editor” and your name was the second one. I was like, That’s it! That’s her! Then I went to your website and I was like, that’s really her! And that was it. From there, anytime we talked, it was like the connection was there and I knew we were going to work well together.
JD: Yes! I’ve so enjoyed working with you, and that connection is really important because, and I’m sure you feel the same way, it’s like we’re bringing this creation into the world together—this book baby. And you have to trust the person you’re working with to be professional but also kind and friendly. You don’t want to leave feeling like they hate you or your work. It’s heartbreaking that that was your experience before.
KST: Yeah, that was hard to recover from.
JD: But it sounds like the universe pointed you in the right direction!
KST: Yes! Definitely. It was so easy.
JD: Social media works everyone!
KST: Yes! Who would have thought? Instagram—perfect editor.
Want to get to know this inspiring author? Read her books! Dive deep into her novels by viewing the K.S. Thomas collection on Amazon and say hello on Instagram by following her at @romanticmosaics4yourrebelsoul. You can also grab a free ebook when you visit her website.