Thursday, September 4, 2008

an interview with an editor!

Okay, folks. I have good news. My Samhain editor has graciously agreed to let me bug her with questions today. As if she doesn’t have enough to do already! LOL

Hi, Linda! Thanks so much for coming over to Three Wicked Writers. We really appreciate you chatting with us. Grab a drink and get settled, this could take awhile. ;-)

TWW: First, I think our readers would like to hear about you, the woman. Sometimes we think of editors as faceless beings with a really wicked red pen. LOL Please prove us wrong and tell us a little about who you are when you aren’t editing!
LINDA: I just started my first teaching job (after many years of college!) – I’m teaching 7th grade language arts and reading and loving it so far. This is definitely a mid-life career move for me. Not that I had much of a career before, lol. I did freelance graphic design, was a full-time student, mom to my two kids, and pet sitter, as well as an editor and writer. I’ve published a story with Red Sage and two novels with Five Star, one of which is coming out next fall. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to write anything new for quite a while, but someday…!

TWW: Okay, it’s time to get with the business stuff. How many years have you been an editor and have you worked for other publishers besides Samhain?
LINDA: I’ve been an editor for about five years. I worked for Wings e-Press and Triskelion before Samhain. I’ve been at Samhain for two and half years, and it is by far the best place to be. I love working with “my” authors as well as with the rest of the staff here. It’s an extremely well-managed, professional company with high standards and ambitious goals.

TWW: What do you look for in a story?
LINDA: I’m sure my answer would be the same as any other editor’s: A story has to grab me right from the beginning. The characters have to be interesting and the writing needs to be strong. This is where that elusive “writer’s voice” comes into play. A confident, original voice will really stand out in the pile.

TWW: I’m betting you’ve seen your fair share of mistakes in a manuscript. What would be the most common mistake you see?
LINDA: Sending in a manuscript full of typos and punctuation and grammar errors. That’s like showing up for a professional interview in ripped jeans and a stained T-shirt. It’s a terrible first impression, and it’s unlikely an editor will read beyond the first few pages if there are a lot of errors.

TWW: I know we all have our pet peeves. Things that drive us right up the wall. As an editor is there anything that makes you just really grind your teeth? For instance, a TSTL heroine, poor sexual practices (no condom), abusive heroes, etc...
LINDA: Unoriginal/clichéd writing, especially in sex scenes. We all know the standard phrases because we’ve all read them before (i.e., tongues tangling/dueling, hot/heat references, relying primarily on eyes, smiles and hands for visuals, etc.). I like to see authors push the boundaries of original language. Also, “purple prose” bugs me. Often, less is more. In a similar vein, don’t pepper your prose with exclamation points or florid dialogue tags. Those are the sure mark of the amateur who lacks confidence in her writing.

TWW: I don’t think the average person quite understands how difficult your job is. Care to tell us what a typical day for you entails?
LINDA: I check my email many times a day. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night. I try to make myself very available to my authors. Every book goes through at least two rounds of thorough edits, often more, so that can get quite time-consuming; then there are final line edits to go over, covers to review, blurbs and excerpts to submit… It is a lot of work, but I love it. I’m very fortunate to have such a wonderful and talented group of authors.

TWW: What’s the best part of your job?
LINDA: Without a doubt, working with writers to develop their stories into the best books they can be. Also, sharing in their excitement when they get a great review, win a contest or zip up the MBaM best seller list.

TWW: What’s the worst? LOL C’mon, you can tell us! ;-)
LINDA: Having to reject a book from one of my established authors. It’s not easy, believe me. But, as friendly a relationship as I have with my group, this is a business, and the acquisition decisions I make are business-based, not personal. The other tough thing is falling in love with a book and seeing low sales. I think I get just as upset as the author.

TWW: In your opinion, which sub-genre or storyline do you think are especially hot right now? On the flip side, which seems to be dying out?
LINDA: The sexier, the better. Ménage à trois stories are smokin’ hot sellers. I think M/M sales will continue to grow. Sweet romance, either contemporary or historical, doesn’t seem to be finding a big audience with e-book fans, perhaps because there are enough of those in the conventional bookstore to satisfy readers. I personally love futuristic and sci-fi romances, as well as urban fantasy, and they seem to sell well.

TWW: Any advice for a new author attempting to break into this very tough business?
LINDA: Be mindful of what the publisher is selling and make sure you’re submitting something appropriate. Also, polish that manuscript! Typos and sloppy errors are deadly if they’re abundant. Push for originality in storyline and writing. Don’t be a copycat who relies on tried-and-true phrasing and a tired, clichéd plot. A beautiful, up-to-date web page helps a lot, too. If I get a good submission, I will Google the author before I make a decision either way. Self-promotion is a necessity, and a web page is your calling card for both readers and editors. E-publishing has definitely become quite competitive, and it’s not the easy market it once was. The good news is, there’s still more room for unconventional stories and new voices than there is in traditional publishing. It’s an exciting time to be involved, no matter which side of the equation you’re on.

TWW: Last question, I swear! LOL What do you say to people who think ebooks and epublishers are second rate to NY print publishers?
LINDA: I think you have only to look at some of the rising stars of NY publishing who got their start with e-books to know that’s not true. I look forward to the day when e-publishing isn’t looked at as a step toward traditional publishing, but as “the” place to be. Sales are definitely on the rise, very much so, and I believe that authors with unique voices and ideas are enjoying abundant success with e-publishing. Now that new venues are opening – Kindle, Mobipocket, etc., as well as opportunities to get print books into brick-and-mortar stores – I think the sky’s the limit.

Thanks so much, Linda! It’s been a real pleasure having you here!
NOTE: I'd like to update everyone who read my post 'I paid and got zero reply'. I recently did get a reply back from that review site. An appology for their lack of response as well as an explanation as to why my cover ad wasn't up yet. I wanted to take a moment to say how much I appreciate their very kind email to me!! Problem solved! *g*


Joy said...

That was a fantastic interview.

Diane Craver said...

Anne and Linda,
Thank you for an enjoyable interview!

Linda is a gem and Samhain is fortunate to have such a great editor! She pushed me to make necessary revisions in all my books. A previous editor had given me my contracts but Linda was gracious and patient with me.

Judith Rochelle said...

Hi Linda. Great interview and very informative. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I swear I remember you from Triskleion. Samhai is very lucky to have you

Patrice Michelle said...

Great interview!

Linda's a pleasure to work with and a wonderful, thoughtful editor.

Samhain is indeed fortunate to have her!


Regina Carlysle said...

Hi Linda! Thanks for joining us. I'm one who believes there is plenty of room in publishing for BOTH traditional print and e-books. Some of the best work I've read lately is in E format.

Anne Rainey said...

Thanks everyone!
:) It was fun picking an editor's brain. hehe!

Kelley Nyrae said...

I'd like to thank Linda for interviewing with the Wicked Writers. I love gaining insight from publishing professionals. Great interview!

flchen1 said...

Thanks so much for the great interview, Anne and Linda! I'm always fascinated to learn more about how the book process works! And I've done some editing in a totally different industry, but can see how some of the peeves would irk me, too! How neat! Thank you both for taking the time!

Anne Rainey said...

thanks for stopping by everyone! Linda was a joy to interview! She's a wonderful editor. :)

Maryann Miller said...

Very nice interview. It was a pleasure to meet Linda, and I agree with her advice to writers about polishing a manuscript and avoiding the trite phrases that so often peppered romance novels.wwnnvrfy

catalinda8 said...

Thank you for interviewing me. Glad it was of interest-keep writing, everyone! :-)

Kassie Burns said...

Great interview and very informative! Being with Samhain is a blast and especially with Linda as my editor. Not only did she do her magic with "Her Master's Pleasure," but she also wrote a very sexy Ratings blurb for me that's boosted sales! A good editor is worth her weight in gold, literally.

catalinda8 said...

Thanks, Kassie - I have to give credit to our wonderful blurb-master, Lee Padgett, for writing the "warnings" for Her Master's Pleasure (and all others). We have a great team at Samhain, all working to make the books fantastic, from cover to cover. :-)

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Great interview. What everyone else has said, Linda is a gem and Samhain and I are lucky to have her as an editor.

Pam Champagne said...

I consider myself lucky to have a great editor like you, Linda!

Pam Champagne