I sat down with Katie McCoach to writing, business and passion!
So tell us a little about your business – What sort of work do you do? How long have you been running the company?
First off, thank you so much for having me! I always balk when someone asks me in-person, “What do you do?” In theory, I want to talk about it all day—it’s why I chose this career, right? But as many of us find, talking about ourselves, or even harder, our writing, is tough to do. So, thanks for the chance to geek out a little to people who understand.
I consider myself a developmental editor, which means I focus on content editing (the story & writing mechanics) for manuscripts. I officially launched KM Editorial, LLC in 2012—just myself, not a client to my name—but since then I’ve grown my company to be a stopping ground for many authors in need of all levels of editing. I personally perform all developmental work, meaning critiques and heavy line-editing, and I have a team of fabulous editors who perform all copyediting and proofreading work. I love being able to be the point person for an author, and guarantee them a talented team of editors to work on their books.
What got you interested in editorial and working with authors?
I studied writing in college so I could spend a career—my life—being involved in writing in some way. I thought that plan was to only be an author. I didn’t expect to fall in love with helping other authors. Eventually, I realized I had been moving toward it for years, and once I embraced the idea of opening my own business, it all clicked. I love seeing other writers grow and succeed, seeing their stories come to life, and knowing I helped in some way. I never thought I could, or would, be a teacher, and yet here I am, Coach McCoach. Wait…I might need to rebrand!
What would you say is the most fun part of editing a story/project? What’s the most challenging?
I love that I get to work with new stories and voices every week. I get to see writers and their stories grow. It’s such a rewarding experience.
The most challenging part of editing is balancing my work flow…when I work on a project, I’m immersed in the story, and it’s at the forefront of my mind for a few weeks. So, switching gears can be tough sometimes, as well as remembering to not over-work myself before my brain turns into mush.
How would you say you’ve changed as an editor over the years?
I am always learning something new in this business, which I believe makes me a stronger editor and writer every day. I constantly work on improving my methods; coming up with new and better ways to express an idea to an author, developing stronger techniques to coach and encourage authors.
What would you say is your most common piece of editing critique?
I swear this goes in waves. One month I might find I’m talking about proper exposition and backstory placement, the next it’s about Show Don’t Tell, and the next it’s about creating conflict from the character, not the writer.
What advice would you give to writers looking to step up their editing game?
I have two pieces of advice for writers looking to better revise and edit their own work: read, and critique. Reading is where writers can learn what works and what doesn’t. Analyze a book after reading. What did you like about it? Were you invested? Can you pinpoint why? Understanding these things will help a writer grow and tell a compelling story. On a similar note, this is why I recommend critiquing. As you provide constructive criticism and advice to others, you’ll not only get better at taking critiques, but you’ll likely realize what needs improvement in your own work by discussing what does or doesn’t work in others’.
How is editing romance similar or different from editing other types of fiction or nonfiction?
There are so many ways that editing any story is the same, and yet at the same time, it’s all different. For any story, I make sure that the characters are moving the story forward…that the journey is worth it to the reader. For romance, especially in contemporary, I’m making sure both POVs of the Hero/Heroine are strong and necessary to the story. Each character must be both the protagonist and the antagonist. And obviously, we need the chemistry, but also clear reasons why they should be together, yet can’t. For YA, I evaluate the voice of the character(s) and their situations; is it a story that teens will relate to?
Your site is beautiful! How do you manage your workload and keep up with all your social media and marketing – any time management tricks?
Oh, thank you! Although there are things I’d love to update on my website in the future, that is one thing I’m so glad I invested in from the very beginning. That was my first big “start-up cost” and it made a huge difference. Over the years, I tried to do all the rest on my own…blog posts, newsletters, emails, social media images, website upkeep, etc. and I’ve since come to understand the value of delegation. Keeping up with everything is tough, and it always felt like catch-22 because I thought I’d never be able to afford to get help on those things, but I needed all of those things running to bring in business. Slowly, I’ve hired different people (who all run their own small businesses), and it’s cut down on the amount of hours I spend on tasks that take me 20x longer than necessary. It has given me more time to focus on the actual editing aspect of my business. I’m more successful with a team behind me. I think almost anyone with a business, especially authors, will find that to be the case.
So my tip: find people or tools that can boost your opportunities to focus on what matters—writing (or whatever your business may be).
Do you have plans to go into writing too? What genres appeal to you most?
Being an author was my only plan growing up. But I also knew I didn’t see the joy of working a job that didn’t put me in the heart of the writing world every day. So, as you’ve learned by now, editing found me. Although writing was my first love, editing was my soul-mate. But of course, I do still write, because you never forget your first love, right? When I do write, it’s contemporary romance.
Tell us a little about your editing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?
Usually it’s just me—and my cat Matilda in my lap—working at the kitchen table. But sometimes I need to get out of the house, and Los Angeles has a coffee shop (and not just Starbucks!) on every block. I’ll grab a croissant from one shop, then walk directly across the street to another, which is where I’ll sit with a latte for a few hours.
What has been your most favorite project to work on so far?
Oh boy, I’m not sure I can answer that. It’s like choosing between your children or pets. Every manuscript is different, and every single one brings something new into my world.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you again so much for interviewing me and making me feel special for a day! If anyone has any lingering questions for me or about the world of editing, please don’t hesitate to comment in the posts, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KATIE McCOACH is a developmental editor working with authors of all levels. Her motto is, “Let’s create your best story!” Her specialties are romance, young adult, new adult, sci-fi, fantasy, and memoir. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and Los Angeles Romance Writers. She’s a featured editor for Revise & Resub (#RevPit contest) and #ShoreIndie contest (2017). Katie was also a participating editor in Pitch to Publication (2015, 2016), and has judged the 2016 & 2015 Golden Hearts Awards and 2014 Stiletto Contest. She is based in Los Angeles.