What the Editors had to say at Sleuthfest
The Sleuthfest Editors:
First – roll call
Deni Dietz-Five Star; Robert Gussin, Oceanview Publishing; Annette Rogers, Poisoned Pen Press; Abby Zidle, Senior editor Pocket/Galley books – imprints of Simon & Schuster
The first thing I noticed was that two of the editors wrote for their own lines. Call me crazy but this bothers me. I don’t want to have to compete with my editor for a slot.
- Most of the editors were interested in acquiring eBook originals.
- All of the editors stressed the importance of checking their guidelines because many publish only mysteries and some focused on anthologies and/or short stories.
- Poisoned Pen Press is currently running a contest with a $1,000.00 prize – more info on their website. But they don’t take thrillers – only mystery. They are specifically looking for books set in Iraq and Afghanistan, thought they don’t want it to be about the political strife in those countries. And no WWII. They stressed really good villains and a unique voice.
- Abby Zidle indicated that she acquired for many different imprints, so she was looking for everything from cozies to trade to hard cover. She did want to make it clear that they’re looking more toward hard covers and trade than original mass market. S&S uses the agency model, so the books are released in print and eBook format on the same day. Most editors were looking for a unique voice and a memorable character. They stressed that a reader should be able to read a snippet and recognize the author immediately. They cited Lee Child as a good example. You read a passage and know immediately it’s a Reacher book.
- The biggest mistake they see is too much telling and not enough showing. They advised authors to start in the middle of the conflict instead of writing the lead-up. Just jump right in.
- Play fair for the reader – give them character, voice and pacing, especially in mystery.
- Your voice is why/how you put your words together.
- Edgier stuff is seeing improvement in the marketplace.
- If you have a niche book, go ePublishing or small press. They are often more willing to buy and market those books.
- Got the usual “write what you know” lecture.
- Oceanview has now branched out into audiobooks as well as Hard Cover, trade, and eBook.
So see – I learned a lot from this group. It’s tough out there right now, so these insights were really helpful. Oh, and they also had nothing wonderful to say about Goodreads. Focus on a Twitter and Facebook presence.