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From Poets &Writers
Michael Szczerban is to be congratulated on this insightful, packed interview with Amy Einhorn, the editor of Amy Einhorn Books (an imprint of Putnam at Random House Group) in the current issue of Poets & Writers. His questions tease out the important facts about editing that beginning writers overlook in their eagerness to submit their precious manuscript. I’m not surprised to hear she undertook four major developmental edits on The Postmistress (I still think it needed more) but I’m pleased she took a chance on Sarah Blake when other editors passed on her new book. Amy explained her process of acquiring the book:
Not only did I pass on that novel originally, everyone in town passed on it. Sarah Blake’s sales track was not great, and when I got to page 100 of this novel, I knew I was going to reject it. But I read the whole thing. I never do that.
Then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was at a Riverhead sales conference presentation, and one of the reps got up and talked about how one of the books made them feel. I had this visceral reaction. I thought, “Oh, I just felt that. What was I reading?” It was that book I passed on from Stephanie Cabot. I went back to her and said, “Did you ever sell that novel?” And I had a very long conversation with Sarah. My first editorial letter to her was seventeen pages long.
Have a coffee and indulge fifteen minutes of your time with this fascinating insight into the editor’s role on the path to publication. It’ll open your eyes to how an editor will assess and work on your manuscript. It’s not just whether it’s a great story, but lots of other decisions are in play: will it sell, what do other editors think of it, what’s the author’s track record (with this kind of book), can my editorial experience and input ensure its success – and choosing a market-pleasing jacket cover. Amy says she took seventeen attempts to get it right for The Help, - now that’s attention to detail!
Here’s the Penguin/RH introduction to Amy Einhorn Books
Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam was founded in 2007 by Amy Einhorn and launched in February 2009. The imprint publishes fiction, narrative nonfiction, and commercial nonfiction. The overarching tenet of Amy Einhorn Books is to hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial—intelligent writing with a strong narrative and great storytelling. The first title published in the imprint was the number-one New York Times bestseller The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. It has been translated into more than forty-one languages and made into an Academy Award–nominated movie. Other New York Times–bestselling titles from the imprint include The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan, and The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha, which was also a number-one international bestseller. Upcoming titles include A Good American by Alex George, the number-one Indie Pick of February 2012; The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (March 2012), which has already received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal; and the eagerly awaited debut of Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess’s memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.
And here’s my 2011 Bookrambler review of The Postmistress
Writing tips and clear-sighted, informed advice on the children’s book market – via the Writers’ & Artists’ website:
Just up on the W&A site today is an impressive link list of useful writing tips from top children’s writers and publishers,- including, Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman; Emma Blackburn, who is editorial director for picture books at Bloomsbury Publishing; and from Alison Stanely, who has commissioned books for Puffin and HC Children’s. [note- the Debi Glori link is broken today but may be sorted by the time you link].
Four good things about the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2014 Long List which was announced today:
- International writers on the reading panel – including the fabulous talents of Elif Shafak and Sarah Hall
- Blind reading made it completely democratic: everyone was equal at the reading stage
- A truly international long list; reasonably balanced along gender and professionalism: male/female; professional/beginning writers
- Jenni Fagan is on it [yay]
Full list is up on the Book Trust Website.
The 2014 Dundee International Book Prize Open for Entries
In their press release the organisers say:
Submissions are being sought for the Dundee International Book Prize 2014, with a £10,000 cash prize and a coveted publishing contract with Cargo Publishing up for grabs. Budding authors are invited to enter their debut novels for the Prize, which last year attracted more than 350 entries from across the globe. The 2013 winner was Irish writer Nicola White with In the Rosary Garden, a crime thriller inspired by a notorious true case of infanticide in Ireland in the 1980s.
So there you have it – a 1 in 350 chance of winning a publishing contract with Cargo and £10,000.
Unusually, along with unpublished typescripts, the competition is open to “self-published novels” which have been published previously on Kindle or as an e-book.
Check the Full Competition Rules on the website, where you’ll also find the entry form and deadline.
- the deadline in the Competition Rules is 1PM on Monday 3rd March 2014.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Are you writing the NEXT BIG THING? Are you starting to think about where to send it, to wonder who will be interested in your book?
You know all about the pages and pages of listings in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook - they’re seared into your memory. You know how to compile a list of suitable agents and publishers and to target those people and places where your book will find sympathetic readers; people on the same wave-length, people who ‘get’ it.
But wouldn’t it be more helpful if you knew the kinds of books that editors and publishers were looking for right now? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know where your book fits into their current list?
Andrew Lownie Literary Agency posts an annual round-up of what editors are looking for in the year ahead. Once again, they’ve very helpfully asked a range of UK and US editors what they’re looking for, and have compiled a “wish list” of the books that editors are looking to commission in 2014.
If nothing else, take fifteen minutes out of your WIP and read through the entries. What have you got to lose? Does your book fit into any of their plans?
Check out the different lists on Andrew Lownie’s site – links below:
Degree or no Degree, that is the question…
Does a degree in Creative Writing, either at MA, PhD or undergraduate level make you a better writer?
Does a degree in Creative Writing guarantee success?
Does life equip you better for writing?
Does writing make you a better writer?
Between them, they cover all the main questions and things writers deliberate on before signing up for a degree and they’re worth a read. Even if you have no intention of taking a set course, they raise a number of interesting questions surrounding the art of writing and the value we as writers and as a society place on creative arts. Do we, as writers, pay more attention to Buckingham’s ‘Big Beasts’ than to the teeming ants – if so, are we listening to the wrong people?
Rapid changes in publishing have created more opportunities, more decisions about what to do with your manuscript: self publish, send to an agent, send direct to a publisher? Start ups abound and it’s difficult to know who will survive and who will sink without a trace. How do you find a publisher who’s going to still be there for your second or third book? The short answer is you don’t know – no one does. Look at the big publishers who’ve merged recently and consider how many changes of editors and editing assistants this has meant to even established writers.
I’ve been looking around at smaller publishers, those who seem to be growing and thriving. Fledgling Press is an independent Edinburgh-based publisher that’s been around since 2000; they’ve been through the major shift to digital that the bigger publishers are still struggling to cope with and they’ve managed to adapt and evolve over the last decade. One of their debut titles last year was short-listed for the Saltire Society First Book of the Year, so they must be doing something right.
They continue to support new authors as their main mission. Here’s what they say:
We aim to be a flexible, exciting and innovative company, with a small but talented team working hard to deliver great new authors and equally exciting debut novels. Our continued hard work and efforts ensure we remain one of Edinburgh’s leading independent publishers. … We publish teen novels, fiction, crime fiction, biographies, poetry and short story collections. We now produce an eBook for every title we publish.
Right now they’re open to submissions from debut authors. Here’s what to do (once you’ve finished your manuscript and edited it until it sparkles) – remember, the key to success is to follow submission guidelines to the letter:
All authors are asked to send in a sample – 3 chapters and synopsis of your book, preferably by email, to submissions @ fledglingpress.co.uk. We aim to read initial submissions within 6 weeks of receiving them. If we like what we see, we will then ask to read your full manuscript. After reading your manuscript we will decide whether we place the book on our longlist for future publication. A position on our longlist is not necessarily a guarantee of publication. Should we decide not to take your manuscript any further we will always try to provide constructive feedback although we can’t always give you detailed reasons for our decisions. If we do wish to proceed with your work we will discuss fully our plans and timescales with you and at that point offer you a contract to publish. Please be aware that agreeing to read your initial submission or the full manuscript does not constitute an offer to publish. You can find out more about the publishing process here. At this time we are unable to accept any more poetry submissions.
Working towards the end of November, seeing the words mount up and the book take shape – or struggle to the finishing line – this kind of helpful and friendly-seeming open submission gladdens the heart. It’s like a ‘Welcome’ sign looming out of a wet, dark night when you’ve been on the road for six hours straight. You may not turn in, you may keep going and eventually choose a place with a bigger sign, but just seeing it up ahead, knowing it’s there makes all the difference to whether you keep going or give up.
I hope your Nanowrimo is still in full flow and the words are gushing out in a torrent of creativity.
If your Nanowrimo novel this year is crime, independent publisher Salt has come up with a juicy challenge. It’s an interesting read, a ‘some will, some won’t’ write a novel in a month blogpost, discussing matters of editing and whether it’s possible to write a book in a month.
But here’s the interesting bit: Salt editor, Linda Bennett, says she’s actively looking for new crime authors to publish next year and she issues a challenge – an opportunity.
Here’s the ‘challenge’ in full:
Inspired by NaNoWriMo, I now wish to announce a challenge to all would-be Salt crime authors. If you’re interested in the idea, start preparing the outline of your novel today and complete it by the end of this weekend. Write 1,000 words a day, revising each day’s writing the following day before you start on your next 1,000 words, and so on, until (on November 28th) you have written 25,000 words. Spend the next two days revising all you have written again, and prepare a synopsis of the whole novel. Send it all to me by 3rd December at the latest. I promise to read both the synopsis and your first 25,000 words and give you some feedback. If I like what you have written, I shall invite you to complete the book and offer you a first refusal from Salt.
A professional read with FEEDBACK is a very generous offer, and further motivation to put in the time and effort this month to complete the 25k + synopsis required. Here’s a link to the full post on SaltED: