Spotlight: Kim VanderHorst

  • Sep 30, 2019
  • 7 minute read

Welcome to the Salt and Sage Books Spotlight series! We believe that by honoring each other’s voices, we’re able to turn creativity into community, and change the world through story.


In this spotlight series, we welcome you into our creative community by inviting you to meet our editors and expert readers, and to hear a little of their own story, in their own words.

Kim VanderHorst

Kim VanderHorst

Kim is an experienced and kind developmental editor—maybe because she’s a mom, or maybe because she’s Canadian. But she has a knack

What do you do with Salt and Sage?

I’m a developmental editor with a strong focus on emotional authenticity through POV depth, and a line editor with a gift for streamlining and deepening writing on a prose level (don’t ask me to copy-edit for you though—commas are my kryptonite!). I also do sensitivity reading in a variety of areas, including neurodiversity, and I run the company’s Twitter account_._

What drew you to Salt and Sage?

In all honesty, I was working as a freelancers at the time and basically joined up because I’m delightfully lazy and loved the idea of someone else doing the nitty-gritty work I’ve never enjoyed that much. But as time went on and I learned what Erin’s vision for the company was, I realized what a perfect fit Salt & Sage is for me. I’ve always felt strongly that a good edit, a truly helpful edit, builds an author up. That no matter how much the pages bleed with corrections and suggestions, an author can (and should!) be left feeling empowered and encouraged.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Port Moody, British Columbia, literally three blocks from the ocean, and within walking distance of the local library, all my schools, and a comic book store I never felt cool enough to explore. I also grew up in a little place called My Very Neurotic Brain.

Where do you live, and what do you like about that?

I live in a small town in the wilds of British Columbia, Canada. The community is quirky but really fantastic at supporting one another and fighting for the kind of changes that will improve our area. Also, many of our neighbors have chickens and horses. As a born and bred city girl, I just can’t get over how cool that is.

Where do you wish you could live?

I’m torn between a love of places and people. The places that would suit me best are too far from the people I love. But I miss the combination of mountains and seashores and vast green spaces that I grew up with. The Pacific Northwest is my heart’s home.

How do writing and editing figure into your daily life?

Most days start with snuggling one or more of my children. I get them through their morning routine, then I tackle my obligations as a digital media specialist for various groups and organizations.

Once that’s done, I often faff about online, pretending I’m going to write. I tend to tackle editing projects after lunch, and sit down to work on my own projects later in the afternoon. However, much of my day is spent helping my autistic teen daughter stay engaged in activities that will benefit her mental health, and trying to help her three little sisters feel equally loved and supported. During the school year, I spend hours every day getting her through her distance ed schoolwork. It can get overwhelming some days.

Once I get back to working on my own book, I tend to lose track of time and forget to make dinner. We eat a lot of chicken strips and pizza in our house. After family time and bedtime stories, I do a little more editing work, and sometimes work on my own book. Then I cuddle my husband and watch TV. We’re kind of adorable.

What was the first moment you wanted to be a writer?

This is hilarious and sad all at once, but I didn’t even realize a writer was something I could dare to be until I was twenty-seven and, on a whim, joined a friend who was doing NaNoWriMo. I discovered a love of writing stories when I was seven, and it took me twenty years to translate that love into an actual ambition.

What’s your writing process like?

I started out as a pantser, learned how to plot, and now I’m all about growing plants. I plot a general outline—a framework to build my story on—and then pants the details. The end result is a firm structure with a veritable garden of surprises growing up the trellis of my outline.

What scares you about writing?

I’m scared that I have the ability to be amazing but that I won’t take the steps to achieve my potential.

What do you love about writing?

I love when the character I’m writing stops being pieces of me crammed together on a page and becomes a living entity of their very own. I also love when people quote stuff I’ve shared on social media. My ego is a hungry beast.

What do you love about editing?

When I’m editing, I love the moment when epiphany strikes, when I realize exactly what insight the author needs in order to level up their writing.

What’s your favorite resource for editing?

Fellow editors have proven the best resource for me. I have several friends in the editing trenches, and we help, support, and encourage one another on a regular basis.

Tell me what you love about one of your favorite books.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett is one of my all-time favorites. I adore the humor, the psychological insights, and the social commentary. But most especially I love the main character. I love the lens through which she perceives the world, the way her past and present intertwine on the page, and the way she moves forward through the story by taking decisive action. I kind of want to be her when I grow up.

You’ve got a writing/editing deadline. What do you do?

I make sure to tell the noisiest people in my life that I’m on a deadline so they’ll shush for awhile, work in small but steady increments, and then hand my work in early.

…Or I reorganize half my house while binge-watching Netflix shows on my phone, panic, and then do all the work in one sitting. I usually smell pretty bad after choosing option two.

What thing about writing and editing do you not want to have to say to someone, but that you feel people need to know?

As helpful a professional editor can be, you shouldn’t hire one until you’ve put a significant amount of work into the project, and shared your work with people outside your immediate family. Find critique partners. Trade work with each other. Hone your self-editing skills. Read your work out loud and catch the messy bits. Then hire a professional editor. We can always help, but we can help you more once you’ve revised and polished your manuscript several times.

What do you hope is the next big change or awesome trend in the writing/ editing/ publishing industry?

I’m hoping that authors stop trying to tell stories that aren’t their own. That we learn how to make space for stories by marginalized authors without griping so much about how we’re losing something (that was never really ours to begin with).

What change or trend do you enjoy?

I love that we’re talking more about the many ways in which humans accidentally hurt each other. I think there’s real hope for the publishing industry to become more self-aware, more empathetic, and more kind.

What would you love to do to make that awesome change happen?

I’d love to be brave enough to engage in the conversations that are happening, to become a compassionate advocate for kindness in the publishing industry.

What are you passionate about, that you wish more people knew about?

I’m passionate about self-care, about filling our heads and hearts with uplifting messages as we leave behind the kind of shaming perspectives that have dominated our culture for far too long.

I’m fond of saying that you don’t have to hate who you were to love who you can become, and I try to incorporate that message into everything I share with the world.