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Editor
Kaitlyn Johnson

After receiving a BA in Writing, Publishing, and Literature from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. Centering her life around everything literary, she started her own freelance editing company, K. Johnson Editorial, as soon as her diploma came in the mail.
 
Holding two years of literary magazine editing experience, Kaitlyn was proud to be the Muse intern for the increasingly popular Muse and the Marketplace Conference held in Boston every April/May. She currently works as Copyeditor/Proofreader for Pearson custom projects at the academic textbook publisher codeMantra Boston and is ecstatic to be interning for the amazing group at Corvisiero Literary Agency!

MOST IMPORTANTLY What kind of entries are you looking for in your Pitch to Publication query box?

I am looking for YA, and NA; I want stories about close friendships (same sex or m-f), strong women AND men who learn through mistakes, urban fantasy with new/lesser known legends, and overseas locations. Contemporary is okay if it’s coming from a new perspective. 

What is your writing and editing background?

Editor: Bachelor’s from Emerson College for Writing, Literature, & Publishing and copyeditor for 3 campus literary magazines; literary intern at Corvisiero Literary Agency; freelance editor at K. Johnson Editorial; copyeditor/proofreader for codeMantra LLC

Writer: short story “Sushi and Kitty Cats” published in A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed: 2016 National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology

What are your major editing accomplishments?

My biggest accomplishment is surprising, because it’s not in fiction editing. I currently work for an academic publishing house that handles all of Pearson’s custom textbooks. I am proud of the work I do—despite fiction editing being closest to my heart—because I’m making sure students today are getting up-to-date and error-free schoolbooks.

Do you have a general philosophy for how you approach your editing work?

Writers deserve to hear what works in their writing, but they deserve hearing what needs work even more. I prefer a compliment sandwich—giving the author all the juicy, chewy meat of their edit right in the middle. I don’t mince words and tell it straight, giving suggestions for how certain problems can be dealt with. Line-editing is my top favorite weirdly enough, and I’m open to starting it when the author is ready. Sometimes you prefer it before big picture comments, sometimes after. It’s personal preference and often depends on time availability. But they are absolutely pivotal to a good story.

What types of books do you enjoy working with?

I love urban fantasy! It’s sometimes hard to achieve the right balance in these novels, but it can be such a great opportunity for diverse characters and inventive storylines. I also enjoy engaging contemporary, but only when it has a plot that hasn’t been overdone. Unfortunately, hard core sci-fi isn’t at the top of my list, and that goes for horror as well. 

I also enjoy books that have the heart already there when it comes to editing. The characters are likable, the idea behind the words is engaging. If I’m smiling while I read (or crying/laughing/shivering), I feel even more inspiration to make the story as close to perfection as possible!

What are the most common mistakes you see in new writer's ​work?

Too many adjectives and too much telling language. The scene should be described enough that I can picture it playing out like a movie, but not so much that I feel like I’m being given a diagram of the setup. One big thing lacking in newbie writing is the reasoning behind a character’s actions. The reader needs to know how and why a character came to their decision rather than just see it suddenly happen.

What’s the one thing most novelists don’t understand about the art of revision?

Revision is more than fixing some typos or killing your darlings. It’s taking a bunch of random chapters and sewing it all together to create an entire world. Everything has a purpose: every character name, every road trip, every meal you make them eat. Revision is about rearranging chapters (or completely deleting them). It’s about cutting that death scene even though you just can’t stand losing the angst. Revision means being willing to question every sentence and see it from the reader’s perspective. And it’s hard. If you thought writing the thing was tough, the editing will test you in every way possible.

What’s one easy thing every writer can do right now to make themselves a better writer?

Social media is a writer’s best resource in this day and age. Want to know what works and what doesn’t? Want to know what agents are looking for? Want to know the latest grammar rules? Follow your favorite authors on Twitter, and then follow the agents who got their books discovered! Lock onto hashtag conversations about queries and first pages. The best advice you can garner will come from those who’ve been around publishing for years.

What is the most important consideration in selecting a book editor?

Make sure their style works with yours. If an editor doesn’t offer a free sample edit on their website, email and ask for one. Ask them how they critique and what their communication frequency is. If your schedules don’t line up or if your writing preferences clash, you’ll be wasting money and time for both parties.

Why would a writer need a book editor?

Line-editing is one of the biggest issues I see in manuscripts, and it’s not something any beta reader can help with. So much can make even a good story feel inadequate, most notably spelling because that’s the easiest thing for a reader to notice. Writers might also need assistance with tenses, sentence structure, pacing, character development, even fact-checking certain elements of the text. That’s where an editor can step in.

What do you do for fun that does not deal with the literary scene?

I absolutely adore singing. I spent two years after high school touring overseas with a group (The Young Americans) that uses music and dance to teach kids about self-confidence and community. I also love being out on the water, whether motorboat or kayak or just sitting on the bank listening to the waves.

Seriously, we need to know your favorite meal and why?

I always hate answering this question because lobster is super expensive and I only really eat it when visiting certain relatives, but I can’t get enough of it! It’s so sweet, and the shells are crazy fun to break open. Plus, you can do anything with it: stew, bisque, lobster roll, salad, surf and turf, breakfast muffin (seriously, it’s happened), or just plain old lobster. 

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