Welcome to Book Editors: Close Up at http://www.authorlink.com . This Authorlink column provides an intimate look at important book editors in New York and elsewhere. Interviews focus on editors as real people. The columns study their likes, dislikes, preferences, prejudices, and why they buy the books they do.
Newly-appointed Editor of Taylor Publishing Company Dallas,TX
1. How did you become involved in publishing?
When I was in my second year at the University of Virginia, my father hinted that I should winnow my list of bearable professions. Publishing consistently found its way to the top of the list. After that, I threw myself into publishing internships and the Radcliffe Publishing Course with zeal.
2. What did you do before occupying your current position?
I was a senior editor at Cader Books in New York City. Prior to that, I worked as an associate editor at Tor/Forge Books.
3. What job would you do if you could do any job in the world?
This is it. Some editors choose to become writers, but I feel that my talents are best utilized helping authors to develop their voices and helping publishers build dream lists.
4.What is your earliest memory of your love for words or books?
Ms. Jenkins read The Boxcar Children to my second-grade class and Mrs. Raines read us Madeleine L'Engle in third. I was captivated.
5. Who influenced you most as a child to read?
The person who influenced me most was my mother. She compiled a list of her favorite authors and books, which included everyone from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley to Ernest Hemingway, and suggested I give them a try.
7. Who are your favorite two or three authors?
The obvious one: William Faulkner, and not just because he taught at UVA. I'll also read anything by Thomas Pynchon, Susan Cooper, Steven Erickson, or Gabriel Garcia Marquez in fiction. In nonfiction, I'm partial to everyone from A. J. Jacobs to Godfrey Hodgson.
8. What is your favorite book of all time and why?
It's a cop out, but there are so many that I can't pin one down. I'm really jazzed now by Robert Davenport's new book, Roots of the Rich and Famous–it's a hoot!
9. What categories do you acquire for?
Taylor Publishing Company's five core categories are pop culture, history, sports, health, and gardening.
10. What other categories personally interest you?
Politics, law, entertaining, interior design…
11. What do you want to see in a query letter? How long?
Query letters submitted to Taylor should be a single page in length and contain three basic paragraphs:
Introduce your topic and describe the thesis of the book in 25 words Explain why this topic is timely and support with data/statistics
Introduce yourself by way of previous works published/sales figures, degrees held, and other credentials that qualify you to write the book.
12. Do you accept e-mail queries?
No. Much of my correspondence with my current authors is handled through e-mail. Queries would just get lost in the shuffle.
13. What advice, if any, do you have for the new writer trying to break in?
Develop your talent. Apply yourself to knowing how to write before you decide what to write. Then you can write about anything without having to re-train yourself every time a new project comes along. Hire an agent.
14. What are your three biggest turn-offs when you're considering a manuscript (packaging? typefaces? No SASE? Viewpoint shifts?)
I recently spoke to a group of very bright writers about the need to think for the team. By this, I mean that the writer or author must think for his/her agent, editor, publisher, publicity director, sales manager, production coordinator, sales representative, book buyer, and bookseller–down the line to the consumer.
It's crucial in today's industry that authors research the market and competition and understand placement of his/her book in the bookstore BEFORE submitting the ms. for editorial consideration. However, this should only be done AFTER the author has completed the work. There's a niche for everything. You just have to find it.
15. What was it about the last three manuscripts you've acquired that caught your eye, made the decision for you to buy?
I'm intrigued by projects with crossover appeal. For example, I enjoy reading books that educate while entertaining me . "21": Every Day Was New Year's Eve melds the glamorous world of entertainment beautifully with the nostalgia of old New York. Stonewall Jackson: A Life Portrait is about a man who grew up not far from where I did, but his life and experiences couldn't have been more different. He grabs my imagination because he was so complex and, at times, inscrutable. And the battle scenes are gripping.
I love my job because I can buy books on various topics. We're publishing a book this spring about the effects of breast cancer on the psychology and relationships of daughters and their mothers.
16. Do you have a favorite quote or first line of a novel, some wisdom that has guided you?
Everyone who knows me knows my maxim: The book's the thing. Not the egos. Don't let your ego (whether you're an author, publisher, art director, editor, or sales manager) hurt the promise of a great book.
I have to remind myself of this once in a while.