What is your background in editing? I have been editing work for years. I was one of our editors at my university newspaper and have my higher education in journalism and media.
2. What line/imprint do you work with Anaiah? I’m a part of the most interesting line, Presence.
3. What are you looking for at the moment? The real key is good storytelling. I think all the editors would agree on that point. No matter what imprint we’re working on, you really want to fall in love with the story. There are plenty of books published that, for one reason or another, the reader is able to put down. We look for the ones that rise above that. We all have genres we enjoy, but a good story is a good story.
4. With all the manuscripts that cross your desk, what is the internal experience between the one you know is “the one” and all the others—even if all the others are quite good? That’s a good follow-up question. Really, for me, it comes down to the key elements. The first few pages are really key. If I don’t feel like I’m able to dive in, or if I don’t see the potential for it, then I move on. The story may get really good after 15 pages, but as an editor, I may never get there and a reader certainly won’t. Those with a journalism background will understand the phrase “Don’t bury the lede.” I don’t know your characters and I don’t care yet, so you need to grab me and make me NEED to find out where the story is going. That said, good storytelling is a bit like fishing. If you can get the readers to nibble, you can reel them in for multiple pages before setting the hook.
5. How do you view rejection? What greater purpose does it serve in the creative process—for the writer? I mean, this is “Life 101” stuff. Rejection is essential, I think, in developing at anything. I frame it more as failure. That sounds cruel, but it’s really a positive thing. I relate it to baseball, which is another part of my life. Baseball and writing have a lot in common. Both of them will humble you beyond your wildest dreams. If you can’t handle failure, you cannot be a baseball player. In that same vein, if you cannot handle failure, you cannot be a writer. The practice of writing is noble. You put your heart into a story, into these people you create and then you put it out there to be judged. When it gets rejected, you either quit or you have to figure out what to do to get better. The people who succeed in this business and in life are the ones who are able to fail.
6. Is the decision to publish an author – or not publish – ever excruciatingly difficult? What is going through your mind? And your heart? It’s extremely difficult. We’ve all been on the other end, in one way or another. The people who write these stories have sometimes been writing it all their lives. It gets to our desk or inbox, and we glance over it, and just don’t get it, don’t see it, don’t feel it. Or maybe we’ve just taken on three books just like it and it’s not a good fit for us at the time.
7. What advice would you give writers about the publishing experience?
In the publishing experience, get ready for a ride and put your ego aside. If you are the first 100% perfect author, then God bless you. Otherwise, you’re going to get an editor who is going to rip your book apart and tell you why this detail isn’t important or why you should eliminate that character and you’re going to think they just don’t get your story. And you know what? Your story probably isn’t that good, that airtight, where it couldn’t be chopped down by a few pages. You’re going to get a publicist who is going to work more than you know to make sure your book is successful and actually gets read. There will be numerous eyes that see your story before it ever gets to the light of day to make sure the story is as good as the cover we come up with for you. It’s going to take time, but it’s going to be fun.