Put your hands together for the ONE…the ONLY….Kris Jacen!! from MLR Press

KrisJacen

Hi, Kris! Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule and agreeing to answer a few questions for us! It’s not often we get a chance to speak to an editor, well NOT just any editor… The EIC of MLR Press. So, if you could just start off by telling us what your role is as the EIC and what it entails, how many hours a day do you find yourself staring at the screen and marking in PURPLE the errors you come across. When do you know when a book is ready? How often do you find yourself arguing with authors who refuse to take a very necessary suggestion in changing parts of their manuscript? You know things of that nature.

Hi Michele…yes, I couldn’t resist answering the questions in PURPLE (really long story behind that, catch me at GRL Atlanta and I’ll tell it). I actually go by the title “Executive Editor” at MLR since when I got to where I am there was another editor that had been with MLR from the beginning that taught me a lot that was figuratively the EIC so a title that put me on the same level as her without taking her place became mine (another long story for when I have a few minutes to talk). What does my role entail?  Quite a bit – I always tell MLR authors/staff “as long as it doesn’t have to do with royalties or uploading, I can help you”. I do quite a bit but in a nutshell, I:

  • Oversee the editing staff for MLR and its two imprints, Passion in Print Press and Featherweight Press – which means I deal with any issue that has to do with edits and then if I can’t, Laura gets involved
  • Handle all the submissions for MLR and Featherweight, in that I assign them to editors to review, review the editor’s comments and then issue whichever letter is called for (we issue yes/no thank you/revise-resub)
  • All the formatting for all three presses and each ebook release has  an InDesign file, two PDFs, a RTF, a ePub and a Kindle (mobi/prc), an additional two PDFs are created if the book is going to print
  • Set the release schedule
  • Coordinate review copies sent out
  • And take care of anything else Laura sends my way (she jokes that I’m her right hand and becoming her left)

So that’s kind of what I do for MLR. As for how long I’m at the computer each day? I do have a EDJ as well as a husband and two daughters so my computer time varies but I’d estimate that I work anywhere from 30-60 hours a week on the computer editing/formatting.

I have about 40 authors on my personal roster – working with about 15 at a time on a revolving basis so about 15-18 manuscripts at any given time are in some form of edits that I’m tracking (I’m a big believer in checklists and have been known to make some cry when sharing them). 

How do I know when a title is “ready”? Some take more than others but typically I’ll go back and forth with an author anywhere from 1-3 times before I’ll send the file to the line editor (then review their mark ups) then onto the proof reader.

I actually don’t argue with my authors often, if at all. I’ve got really good relationships with my authors and they know that if I’m pointing something out then there is an issue. I’m not an editor that asks for changes just for the sake of a change. I ask when there is something that needs clarification and if I do ask and they don’t completely agree we’ll talk but no real arguments from “my” authors. Occasionally, I’ll get authors that have submitted a story to MLR that we haven’t outright offered a contract to argue with me and that just doesn’t make sense to me *shrugging*

Perhaps you’ll share with us a few Do’s and Don’ts, the auto accept, auto reject, and maybe how one, such as myself, would go about being a writer for MLR Press.

Hmmm, do’s and don’ts…let’s start with the easy part – auto accepts for me tend to be those on my roster since I know the quality and know the working relationship with the author OR if I interact with the author and specifically ask them to submit a story to me. Auto rejects…anything that’s listed in our submission guidelines as a ‘no-no’ and the one that surprises me that authors send to MLR – het sex.

Now the do’s and don’ts.

Do:

  • Put your name, contact information (including email) and title on a cover page in your actual manuscript
  • Send a synopsis with your submission WITHOUT a cliffhanger; it makes it so much easier to review a manuscript if you’ve got some idea what’s in the manuscript AND it gives us a clue as to whether or not you’ve told the story you thought you were telling
  • Send your manuscript, synopsis in .doc or .rtf format…other formats, yeah, they’re a pain
  • Remember to proof read your story – run it through a beta reader or a crit partner (they are invaluable and worth their weight in gold)

Don’t:

  • Go against our submission guidelines – there is probably someone somewhere that wants to read stories that have the elements we list there but the story wouldn’t be a good fit for MLR
  • Get cutesy in your cover email/letter or synopsis; it tells us nothing and can annoy a reviewing editor.

How would someone go about becoming a MLR author? Submit a story to us. MLR did start out as invitation only but at GRL 2011 in New Orleans, Laura announced that we were open to submissions. We’ve got calls out on a rotating basis and we’re always looking for good stories.

And while you’re busy with that, what beverage can I have Charles grab for you? We also have food, lots of food, name your dish and we’ll get that for you as well. (We have a LOT of sweets.)

Anyone that got me a drink in Albuquerque will tell you – bartender’s choice but keep in on the sweet side.  Food? I’m a little stuff still from the holidays and I’m about to hit it hard to lose a bit of weight/tone up before the summer (did you see the pics of me from GRL? Yeah, need to lose a bit…lol)

1) What’s one thing many people don’t know about you but you wish they did know?

Ummm, I’ve been told that some are scared to email/talk with me. I really like emailing/chatting with people. Don’t let the EE title fool you, I started as a beta reader.

2) What one thing has happened in your life has made the biggest impact on who you are today?

Marrying my husband. He just retired from the Army after 26 ½ years so we’ve moved around quite a bit in our marriage. I had to learn how to be completely self-sufficient away from family and friends from childhood. Going through two deployments with young children was a challenge and a blessing. I can juggle a LOT of things at the same time. I’m a champion multi-tasker.

3) What is your favorite piece of clothing and why?

Most days you can find me sitting around my house in workout clothes…stretch capris with sneakers and a t-shirt. I tend to focus on getting stuff done when wearing them. Are they favorites? Yeah, I guess so. I’ve got a few sweatshirts that I wouldn’t part with (way too comfy) and I do have a collection of formal dresses that I love from going to military balls with my dh.

4) Name one actor/actress you would love to get naughty with?  Why that person?

Hugh Jackman. Why? In addition to his looks, he’s got a fantastic singing voice and sense of humor. Love a man that can sing and make me laugh.

5) If I came to your home and looked inside the refrigerator, what would I find?

A day or so of leftovers, unsweet ice tea, white wine, beer for the husband, milk, feta cheese, some veggies for salads, a collection of salad dressings (trying to find one that my oldest will use), and probably some yogurt.

6) What would you say is your worst vice?  Do you think it annoys people?

I’m extremely impatient. It has a tendency to annoy people when I’m waiting for them to do what I want/need from them. Now, my husband would say that my worse vice is that I absolutely suck at keeping ahead/current with laundry and the only one that that annoys is him.

7) What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you?

Strangest thing that’s happened to me?  Ummm, not sure but I do know that I’ve been squeeled at because “you’re JL’s Kris” (someone at GRL realized that I was the Kris that JL Langley referred to in her dedication of Without Abandon) and had someone want my cell phone because I had a text from Jet Mykles on it.

8) What do you like most about editing?  What do you like least?

What I like best? Reading a story and helping the author to make it the best that they can tell. What I like least? Having to tell an author that I don’t think their story is ready for publication yet.

9) When are you completely satisfied with your work?

I’m not sure that I’m every completely satisfied. I know that I do like when an author takes my comments to heart and actually thinks about what I’m asking for (Kendall McKenna did that with comments I gave her during an evening event on her submission to MLR and RAN with them and it was great!).

10) What do you do to relax?

Not surprising…I read to relax. I also play with my daughters and spend some time with my husband (but most of those times we’re quietly sitting on the couch reading different books).  My husband and I are both golfers. And my goal in 2013 is to make exercising relaxing and necessary J

11) Do you make friends easily?

Part of being a military spouse is being able to become friendly with people easily. I can talk with just about anyone. But close friends? It takes a bit for me to become close friends but once I am? I keep friends forever. Some of my closest friends these days live all over the country (I tend to refer to them as “my girls”).

12) What’s the first song you remember hearing?

The first song to come to mind when reading this question… “American Pie” by Don McLean so either that or “C is for Cookie” by the Cookie Monster.

13) Name your favorite review site!!!! (HAHA!! Just kidding. No… really I’m kidding. I meant publisher! Yes, yes that’s what I meant!

Favorite publisher? Why MLR of course…publishers that I tend to buy stories from? Ummm, I tend to purchase by author. So if say Carol Lynne or Stephani Hecht or yeah, not going to name more, have a story out from xyz publisher then I’m there for that story and will browse other titles that catch my eye.

Thank you for being here with us today!

You are more than welcome, Michele. Thanks for having me. Most sites tend to not ask to interview the editors behind the scenes.

19 Comments

  1. This was great interview. The purple font was a nice touch. Kris looks fab in purple along with the mauve (?) lipstick.
    I appreciate editors so much as a reader. It’s very distracting to read stories that could have been tighten up and/or have simple grammar/typos/syntax errors errors corrected.

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  2. What Devon said (about being helpful to authors who are’t “one of hers”. Kris has been inspiring me for a few years now, and she might not realize it, but I know I’m a better writer because of her, even if she’d never been “my” editor. (yet…? 😀 )

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  3. Thanks everyone. It was interesting being the one interviewed. I hope that my answers help out some.

    @Donna – I don’t find it difficult unless I don’t have my checklist. Since the stories I work on are so varied (unless I’m editing a theme – vampires anyone?) it’s pretty easy to keep track of the stories.

    @Jeanne – glad you think I’ve got some patience. I think others would argue that point with you.

    Like

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