Tag Archives: editors

Meet Putnam Editor Kerri Kolen

Posted by September 2nd, 2015

Kerri Kolen on Penguin.comSay hello to this morning’s blog guest Kerri Kolen, Executive Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Putnam), the Penguin Publishing Group imprint that holds the record for more New York Times hardcover bestsellers in the last two decades than any other imprint. Kerri’s going to be one of the fabulously knowledgeable panelists on the Book Country panel at the upcoming Slice Literary Writers’ Conference talking about “Unconventional Paths to Publishing.” Below she shares insights on what sets apart the books she acquires for Putnam, and what she’s excited about publishing this fall.

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LS: You are in charge of the nonfiction program at Putnam, where you edit books on a huge variety of subjects (including lots of books by famous people!). For the non-famous writers of nonfiction among us, can you tell us what qualities will set a manuscript apart for you?

KK: From Word One, the voice will set a manuscript apart. And then pretty soon thereafter, I will be able to tell if the writing is singular or not, as well. Those two qualities are so incredibly important for obvious reasons, but also because those are the qualities that are very difficult, if not impossible, to teach a writer or tease out in an edit. After that, depending on the type of book, I will always look to the narrative itself. What is the story? Is it new? Is it something that readers will feel compelled to tell all of their friends about? And of course, a platform is always very helpful. You don’t have to be famous to build a nice platform–whether it be on social media, with a blog or website, with a brand, with a voice to a larger community in some way or another. And then attached to that: how engaged is the audience? I’d take a smaller but highly engaged audience over a tremendous number of less engaged readers every time. The platform is not essential (and we would look to help the author with building a platform in the months between acquisition and on-sale) but it certainly helps me value the project.  Continue reading

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Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

Posted by May 26th, 2015

It’s important for writers to be active in the online writing community. Editors and publishers are constantly promoting great books and author events on Twitter, so you’ll be able to know current trends and the kinds of books being published in today’s market. Plus, editors and publishers regularly tweet out book giveaways and host fun contests!

Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

Editors and Publishers to Follow on Twitter

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Assistant Editor Michelle Meade on the Editorial Process

Posted by September 9th, 2014

“Never feel that your book is finished before you get started in the editorial process.” Michelle Mead, now Assistant Editor at MIRA Books, an imprint of Harlequin, gives advice to new authors starting the editorial process.

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Ask an Editor: Alexandra Cardia Answers Your Questions!

Posted by August 22nd, 2014

Book Country Ask an EditorWelcome to Part III of Book Country’s Ask an Editor blog series. Alexandra Cardia, Assistant Editor at Riverhead Books, talks about the most rewarding thing about being an editor and deciding whether to work with a particular manuscript. Read Part I and Part II of Ask an Editor.

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1.  Generally how far do you read into a submitted book before deciding it’s trash or good enough to work with? – BoJo Johnson

It really depends on the project. Nonfiction projects are generally submitted as a proposal, and I read proposals front to back; you need to, I think, to get a full picture of the work. For fiction, how far I read into a work is generally dependent on two things: First, if I connect to the writing. If I don’t, I’ll know that pretty quickly and know that the work is probably a pass for me. Second, if I like the writing, I’ll read for story. This can take anywhere from a couple dozen pages to the entire manuscript. Sometimes I’ll read an entire manuscript and only then know that it’s not the right fit for me. So it really does depend on the work! Continue reading

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Ask an Editor: Melissa Danaczko Answers Your Questions!

Posted by August 12th, 2014

Ask an EditorWelcome to Part II of Book Country’s Ask an Editor series! Melissa Danaczko is an Editor at Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Today, she talks about how to improve dialogue in writing, how marketability plays a role in selecting books for publication, and how editors deal with personal bias. Read Part I of Ask an Editor.

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1.  Is there bias when editing? When editors get content which violates them personally, does it affect their work? – Melanie Kilsby () Continue reading

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Ask an Editor: Brian S. Geffen Answers Your Questions!

Posted by August 5th, 2014

Brian S. GeffenThank you so much for submitting questions for Book Country’s Ask an Editor blog series! Brian S. Geffen, Assistant Editor at Philomel Books, discusses what a typical day is like for him, and whether the editing process differs between new writers and seasoned writers. 

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1.  What is a typical day like? – Anni Eayrs

The different tasks really vary week-to-week for an editor—though the answer is a bit cliché, it’s true. The work may consist of reading manuscript submissions from agents, editing contracted manuscripts (both line editing and conceptual editing), writing copy of all sorts (jacket copy; title information sheets that provide background on upcoming titles for the Marketing, Publicity, and Sales teams; catalog copy to introduce new books to booksellers), working with designers on interior and jacket design concepts, negotiating contract terms with agents and foreign publishers, and keeping informed about the general world of children’s publishing beyond one’s own publishing house. It’s easy to get engrossed in one’s own work, but it’s very necessary to be on the pulse and know what else is out there in the wider publishing world. I’m also the assistant to the Publisher of Philomel so I help out with some of the administrative tasks of the imprint as well. The varied workload really allows me to exercise different forms of creative thinking, and I find it very enjoyable and fulfilling. Continue reading

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Exploring Middle Grade Fiction with Razorbill Editor Gillian Levinson

Posted by December 12th, 2013

Gillian LevinsonToday our guest is editor Gillian Levinson. Gillian edits books for young readers at the Razorbill imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group. We wanted to talk to her because she’s an expert on Middle Grade Fiction, one of the Young Adult categories that is getting more and more popular within the Book Country workshop. Check out what she has to say about her work and its place within this fascinating genre.

LS: You are a passionate editor of Middle Grade Fiction at Razorbill, which to me says you are the perfect person to define for Book Country what “Middle Grade” really means. What’s your working definition?

GL: Well, technically, a middle-grade book is one for readers 8-12 years of age in which the protagonist of the story is also around that same age. One mistake that rookies often make is thinking that because children regularly read up, a novel’s protagonist can be quite a bit older than the target readership (say 14 or 15 years old). Unfortunately, however, that’s typically not how books are shelved in stores. If a particular novel’s protagonist is in high school, for instance, many stores will not stock that book in the Middle Grade section.

In terms of genre or subject matter, Middle Grade can really be anything, but all the best Middle Grade books give the reader a real sense of escape—it could be into a fantastical world or into a historical period or into the life of a child whose life experience feels somewhat removed from that of the reader—while integrating universal emotional experiences (e.g. wanting to belong, wanting others to heed one’s opinions, wanting to feel loved, etc.). Of course, the argument could be made that most great works of fiction, irrespective of target audience, offer that same combination of the personal and the unfamiliar, but in Middle Grade, it’s absolutely central.

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The Back Cover Synopsis: Writing Your “About the Book” with Copywriter Carly Hoogendyk

Posted by December 6th, 2013

Writing Your "About the Book:" on Book CountryWe are so pleased to have copywriter Carly Hoogendyk as our guest blogger this morning. Carly, a colleague of the Book Country team here at Penguin, is an expert in writing back cover copy for dozens of books in many genres. We all know how important that cover copy can be in selling a book, whether it is a physical book jacket you are reading or the “About the Book” entry on a eBook retail site. I asked Carly to apply some of her knowledge of book cover copy to what Book Country members are doing when they upload their books for peer review or to publish. Read her tips for writing your “About the Book” to attract and engage readers on Book Country.

Putting together a fantastic “About the Book” is a great next step for writers, whether you are just coming off a month of NaNoWriMo or preparing to self-publish.

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Carly HoogendykI’m a Junior Copywriter at Berkley and New American Library. I read manuscripts for soon-to-be published novels across the full spectrum of genres—New Adult, Westerns, Cozy Mysteries, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Erotica, and Thrillers. Once I have a sense of the story, characters, and “what sets this book apart from the rest,” I write the snappy, three-paragraph persuasive book report that we all know and love: The Back Cover Synopsis.*

*Grammatically speaking, you’ll observe throughout this post my copywriter’s love affair with my favorite persuasive punctuation: ellipses, colons, the Oxford Comma, and—perhaps my favorite—the EM DASH.

I got into copywriting via fundraising. I became extremely adept at the 15-second elevator pitch by cold calling strangers to ask them for money to support the arts. (If you think writing book synopsis is difficult, trying hectoring strangers for their hard-earned dough during dinnertime.)

It was brilliant practice for what I do now: If I couldn’t engage their attention quickly and articulate my hook in an extremely short window of time, they’d hang up on me (and it happened… a lot). In the instances where I successfully got strangers to listen for long enough to actually fork over a buck or two (or a thousand), it was lively language, a confident tone, and fact-based persuasion that gave my argument the edge that won them over.

That being said, here are my basic tips for how to avoid a “hang up” when you’re writing descriptive copy for your book:

Know Your Hook(s)
In cover copy, the hook is anything that will make your story especially enticing to a potential reader. It can be the name recognition or awards won by the author, a clever turn of phrase which suggests the writing will be entertaining, or a cryptic suggestion that there’s something completely unexpected in store…*
*There’s something about the dot-dot-dot that reads like beckoning someone with a curled index finger…  Which, while creepy in real life, is fair game for effective book copy.
There’s something about your novel that makes it original and specific and intriguing to readers. That’s your hook. Working your hook into a tagline that opens your copy is a tried and true way to get a reader to continue on to the rest of your synopsis and, ideally, the first page of your book. Continue reading

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Romantic Suspense Author Stella Cameron’s Tips on Handling Rejection

Posted by August 7th, 2013

At this summer’s Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference, I picked up some great advice about rejection from romantic suspense author Stella Cameron. At the Friday night dinner panel, Cameron told the audience to:

Always have something in the mail (or email). If you’re always submitting your work to editors and agents, you’ll always be waiting for good news. That way, if you do get some bad news, it won’t feel like the end of the world.

Write before you check your mail (or email). Get your creative work for the day done before you find out if something you’ve submitted has been rejected. Your day’s writing won’t be plagued by self-doubt if you’re blissfully ignorant of any possible rejections sitting in your in-box. By the time you go to write the next day, the original sting will have likely subsided. Instead, you’ll already be thinking of how you can use the rejection as feedback.

It was wonderful to hear Stella Cameron, the author of more than 60 novels, remind us that every writer has a long history of rejections underpinning their success.

How do you handle rejection?

 

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Meet NAL’s Editorial Director Claire Zion

Posted by May 29th, 2013

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“Nothing about publishing is magic; it’s all hard work.”

We are thrilled to welcome acclaimed editor Claire Zion to the blog today. She is a vice-president and the editorial director for New American Library. She has previously worked at Pocket Books, Warner Books and iPublsh.com. She has edited bestselling authors such as Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Anne Krentz, Linda Howard, Philippa Gregory, Susan Wiggs, Jo Beverley, and Karen Rose.

 

Nevena: Thank you for joining us, Claire. You’ve been in publishing for many years, so I’d love to get your perspective on today’s publishing landscape. How has the industry changed during your tenure? 

Claire: The biggest and most exciting change I’ve seen in publishing is happening right now. EBooks and the rise in self-publishing that has gone along with them have really revitalized the industry. I think more people are reading now than ever, and there is more room for new talent and new ideas then there has ever been before. For publishers it is an exciting time because we are expanding all our programs and reaching more and more readers. For writers it’s an exciting time because there are so many more readers out there for them to connect with. Continue reading

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