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An Exclusive Interview With Melody Guy Senior Editor Ballantine

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An Exclusive Interview with Melody Guy
Senior Editor Ballantine

by Lesley Williams

June 2006

Editor's Note: Melody Guy is a senior editor for Ballantine, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group.

"My mother was an avid reader, hence the library trips, and my parents always had a lot of books in our home."

 

 

—GUY

 

 

AUTHORLINK: How did you first become involved in publishing?

GUY: My first job in publishing was at Simon & Schuster. I was the administrative assistant to the associate publisher for the S&S Adult Trade Divison. I've been in publishing for 11 years.

AUTHORLINK: What job would you do if you could do any job in the world?

GUY: I'd be a professional reality show contestant.

AUTHORLINK: What is your earliest memory of your love for words or books?

GUY: My mother would take me to the library weekly when I was a child and I would take out a stack of books and read every one of them. Eventually we grew to know the staff of the library so well that they offered my mother a job and she's been working at her local library for more than 20 years.

AUTHORLINK: Who influenced you most as a child to read?

GUY: My parents. My mother was an avid reader, hence the library trips, and my parents always had a lot of books in our home.

AUTHORLINK: Who are your favorite two or three authors?

GUY: Bebe Moore Campbell, Toni Morrison, Jennifer Weiner.

 

"I've never had a reading experience quite like Campbell's Your Blues Ain't Like Mine."

 

 

—GUY

 

AUTHORLINK: Why do you like each of them?

GUY: I've never had a reading experience quite like Campbell's Your Blues Ain't Like Mine. No book has ever touched me like that. As for Morrison, an English teacher at my high school recommended that I read Sula, which opened up a whole new reading experience for me as far as black authors. And I love Jennifer's Weiner's novels. Pure escapism for me.

 

AUTHORLINK: What is your favorite book of all time and why?

GUY: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it over and over as a child and will make sure that my children read it as well.

"My focus is primarily on books for the African-American market . . ."

 

 

—GUY

AUTHORLINK: What categories do you acquire for?

 

GUY: I am the senior editor for One World, which is Ballantine's multicultural imprint. My focus is primarily on books for the African-American market, although, as is the case with all editors in my division, I am free to acquire across our other imprints (Del Rey, Modern Library, Presidio, Random House, and Villard) The categories in which I like to inquire include: narrative non-fiction, pop-culture, inspirational, self-help, memoir, literary and commercial fiction, and popular history.

AUTHORLINK: Of the projects you've edited and published, can you give us two examples of books (titles and authors) that would best represent your interests or tastes?

GUY: For nonfiction: Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America by Mamie Till Mobley; and for fiction: Angel of Harlem by Kuwana Haulsey

AUTHORLINK: Do you accept email queries?

GUY: Yes

AUTHORLINK: Do you accept direct queries from authors or do you prefer to work with agents?

GUY: Agents

"Biggest Turn-Off: when I receive a cover letter addressed to someone else . . ."

 

 

—GUY

 

AUTHORLINK: Specifically for literary agents, do you have advice for what you expect from them in a query or submission?

 

GUY: Past sales history, who the audience would be for this book, comparable titles and why this book is different, and if the author has some sort of promotional platform.

AUTHORLINK: What are your three biggest turn-offs when you're considering a manuscript (packaging? typefaces? no SASE? viewpoint shifts?)

GUY: Submissions in all CAPS, when I receive a cover letter addressed to someone else (this has happened more times than you can imagine), when I receive manuscripts without being asked if the project is something I'd like to see.

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