Welcome back, Readers! Here we are, in the fabulous fall season, officially! I hope everyone is faring well, between the changing seasons, and staying healthy! The weather here has been decent, for the North Country!
For the third installment of my Fall Blog Series, I’ll be sharing my interview with editor Vicki Lame, of Wednesday Books!
Wednesday Books is an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, which publishes a wide variety of unputdownable YA and Adult fiction. Vicki and I had a wonderful discussion about the publishing process, what her wishlist includes, and how she came to be an editor. I think you’ll agree, Vicki is an absolute rockstar, and authors would be lucky to work with her at Wednesday Books!
Vicki Lame can be found on Twitter @thedaysbetween
You can also check out @WednesdayBooks and @StMartinsPress, too!
Welcome, Readers! I am so happy you’re here. Today I am continuing with my Fall blog series: Meet The Editors, and today I’m sharing my interview with editor Dina Davis, of Mira books.
Mira Books is an imprint of Harlequin (HarperCollins). Dina will be chatting about her background, her editorial process in acquiring authors, and what she is specifically seeking at this time. Please note: Dina accepts AGENTED SUBMISSIONS ONLY.
Without further ado, let’s learn about editor Dina Davis and Mira!
Susan Thank you for joining me on my blog today, Dina! If you don’t mind, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into the publishing world?
Dina I went to NYU, wanting to get into writing and be a journalist. I really liked it. But I did some internships, and felt that journalism, like newspaper journalism, wasn’t my style. I always loved fiction more. And so when I graduated, the internship that I was currently at was at a magazine. They had a book department and they had an editorial assistant job opening. I applied for that and ended up getting it. That was more nonfiction, Christian books. With a little bit of fiction and stuff. It was guidepost books, and it wasn’t quite what I wanted to do. Like, those weren’t the types of books that I like to read. I always was into romance, so I was always looking at Harlequin. And when the Love Inspired imprint opened up, it’s like, well, that’s it! I’m into romance, science fiction. And I also had some connections in the inspiration world already. So I went over there. What I always really wanted to do was get into the big books on the trade side. And that’s how I moved over here in April. I’m in Mira now, and I’m carrying a bunch of different things across genres. I’ve moved outside of the inspirational Christian space. I’m doing mainstream fiction and it’s really fun to get into the very dark stuff as well as still the light hearted RomCom-y things now.
Susan Yes, that’s great. What a journey, right?
Dina Yes! I’ve been kind of all over the place. I feel like most people in publishing have that windy road.
Susan So, you’re talking about how now you acquire more of an eclectic mix of things. Tell us a little bit more about that. What kind of books do you love the most?
Dina Well, personally, I read a little bit of everything, but romance has always been like my, “if I need something that I can just forget about stuff and get into”, that is my go to, or the complete opposite; Dark Horror kind of stuff. Escapism is my big thing. But when it comes to what I’m acquiring we don’t do a ton of romance at Mira. Our focus is more about commercial fiction. We do some RomComs. But we’re not really looking specifically for romance focused stories. I love a book that has a good love story, but has more to it than just a romance plot. Also, I wouldn’t say to send me a historical romance or a contemporary romance or something that’s not in that RomCom realm. I am looking for psychological thrillers, for some horror. I like character driven, issue driven stories. The Big Book Club fiction in the upmarket realm. I do a little bit of light Sci Fi Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction. So really, like across general fiction categories, mostly leaning commercial, but also some more upmarket and book club stuff, too.
Susan Wonderful. And so, part of what I wanted to talk with the editors in this series about is, the different roles that you might have, or the hats that you wear as an editor. When we’re on the agent side, or the author side, unless we work directly with that press or that editor, we don’t really know, you know, what goes on on the other side. So, I wondered if you could kind of walk us through what it’s like to work with an editor at Mira, like yourself.
Dina Okay, I am pretty new and still kind of learning the MIRA team and stuff, but I’d say editors, we do a lot more than just editing. We are your liaison. We are the person that is in contact with all the marketing and publicity and contracts and sales teams. When we fall in love with a book and acquire it, we really want it to do as well as possible. So our job in addition to making sure the project is as strong as possible, w are going to all the different teams and fighting for the right covers for it and pushing for the right distribution and talking about what we can do on the marketing/publicity side. And we have a great team that works really well together in all of those departments. I think that we’re pretty cohesive, and if an offer comes to us with questions or issues and stuff, we are pretty responsive and able to get feedback from the different departments pretty quickly. Are there specific questions that you have?
Susan A lot of times my authors and other agents wonder about what the behind-the-scenes process is. What does it look like? Is it a team approach? Obviously, it sounds like it’s a team approach at Mira. And another aspect of it that always comes up, at least with some of my authors is, what about the final product, like the cover? Does the author have any input? Is it a collaborative process with the author?
Dina We do run covers past authors, and take feedback from the authors. Like, back-cover copy; I see it, and I send it to the author before I send it to my boss to get approval, because the author is going to have the closest relationship with the material and will be able to say, “Oh, well, that thing isn’t quite accurate,” or “I don’t want to give that much away,” and stuff like that. We try to loop in the authors early on in the design process, asking if there certain poses you want to see if there are characters in the cover? Or what kind of settings and scenes and stuff would you like here? So we try to work very, very much with the authors to get to their sense of it. But it also comes down to, when we’re all debating on different little pieces of it, what’s going to sell. You have to ask if this cover is going to be eye catching, versus a different one and stuff. So we know that a lot of people on our team, the sales people, the marketing people, the publicity people, really know what’s going to stand out on both social media and on that shelf, and what we’re going to push. So yeah, we try to work as a team with everybody and try to make everybody as happy as possible when it comes to those things.
Susan That’s really neat. It’s such a process, right? So many different steps and different avenues that have to be followed before it’s done. So, from the time a book is acquired to the time that it gets onto the bookshelves, what kind of a timeframe is that? I know that in some cases, it’s years. Right? You’re looking at years down the road.
Dina Yeah, I think that that’s going to really depend on the book and what our schedule looks like at the time. And if they’re like spots that we have to fill right away, like, did we just buy a psychological thriller, and next summer, we don’t have a psychological thriller in a specific month, we can fill that hole with it. It is so it’s hard to give a general sense of that. I can say, I’ve acquired two new authors for the line since April, and one of them isn’t going to be published until 2024. And the other one is going to be published next June. It also depends on if we are buying a full manuscript or proposal? We rarely buy on proposal, but it depends on how well the author is established, and if there’s somebody who has worked on different imprints internally or something like that. And if it’s on a proposal, we have to wait for a book to be written. That pushes things out further too. I think we tend to try to publish everything within 18 months. But it all comes down to schedules.
Susan So, I guess it all depends. That’s the side of publishing that agents and authors aren’t always privy to. That’s really good info. So from an agent perspective, when we send things to editors for consideration, do you prefer that the agent send a proposal and sample chapters or a proposal and the manuscript? How do you like to receive materials?
Dina I know that this varies for every editor to but I definitely prefer to just have the full manuscript because if I start reading, and I really liked it, I don’t have to get back to you and be like, is this full? Is there more to this manuscript? Can you send it to me? And then I have to wait for it. What if you’re on vacation, and I really want to keep reading or something like that. I do like to have a synopsis, if it’s available. If it’s not, that’s fine too. It also depends on what the genre is. If it is like, a psychological suspense, I don’t think that I would want to know all those twists and turns that happen at the end. So I’d rather read the book and be drawn in and keep going. But it can be helpful. There have been a couple of books lately that I’ve been like, I’m interested in this, but I’m not sure if the ending is gonna hold up. If I could take a peek at the synopsis, that could save me time. It helps. But I’m definitely someone who prefers to have a full manuscript. I know, there are a lot of people who are like, just send me three chapters. It saves us an email, because I can read the first three chapters and make a decision based on that, but I can also just keep going.
Susan Okay, excellent. What do you feel is the best part of your job? What do you like the most about what you do?
Dina Well, I love the editing, and working with the authors. If I can get on a brainstorming phone call, and hash out all the little details. I did that with an author recently. We were on the phone for two hours, figuring out plot points, and, and it was really fun. It can be really engaging to get into the nitty gritty of that. And that’s one of the things that I also had loved about the journalism route that I was on, because it was kind of like the interview process of trying to pull information out of people. You can do that even more creatively in a fiction brainstorming session. So I like doing that. And then just also getting into the stories and really reading them and figuring out how to make them as strong as possible. I think that’s the most fun part of the job.
Susan I know that from the agent side, I’m more of an editorial agent, because I love digging in, too. Ironing out as much as we can together with the author. I love that aspect of it as well. So that’s really cool. Let’s see…What are some things that you’re most excited about seeing currently? Where would you see the most interest in your inbox?
Dina I’ve been trying to really find a great horror, but it has to be something that is an “at the moment” issue kind of book. I feel like it has to be something that has wider appeal, because we don’t get very deep into the horror or fantasy or science fiction genre at Mira. So it needs to have that emotional human element that drives it. And then, I am always going to be looking for character driven psychological thrillers slow burn kind of books, I am looking for rom coms, but they have to be a really fresh spin on tropes. And they really have to make me laugh; that’s the main thing that I’m looking for in that realm. That can be really tough to pull off sometimes, because it still has to have all that conflict and heavy parts to it, too. Yeah, I am interested in some historicals that are more in the commercial space. Recent historicals, but I’m not interested in World War Two. But I’d love to see things like like a story that’s own voices that takes place in New Orleans and is based around the Voodoo queen, something like that would be really fun. Something that is different from what we see every day. And then, in general, I’m just looking for things by marginalized creators who are writing in those spaces too, and books that are just outside of the bounds of what publishing has been kind of narrowly focused on for so long. So I’d really like to expand that especially within the Mira line and get more voices in.
Susan Thank you. And so just for the very end, I just wanted to find out some fun things: So what is your favorite color?
Dina Anything on the blue spectrum really kind of?
Susan Nice. And do you have a favorite musician, band type of music? What do you listen to?
Dina I’m a little all over the place and that like, I think that a lot of it kind of got stuck when I was in high school. So if you look at like the hip-hop, rap, emo stuff, punk stuff, that came out in like 2008. But I also like the stuff that my parents listened to. I grew up with my parents listening to Tom Petty, Alannis Morrisette, Metallica. I’m kind of all over the place.
Susan It’s a nice eclectic collection! Do you have a favorite place that you visited?
Dina I studied abroad for eight months in Florence, Italy, and it’s my absolute favorite place in the world. I’d love to have a vacation home there one day.
Susan That’s great. I think for myself, when I was finished with college, a friend of mine and I did a tour through Europe, and it’s just so amazing. You know, we spent a month there and it was just so inspiring. I’d love to go back.
Dina Yeah, it’s so great.
Susan Do you have a favorite food?
Dina Anything potatoes? Like, I’m an Irish girl. We make something called potato candies?
Susan Well, what’s that?
Dina It’s literally a pound of powdered sugar mixed with a mashed boiled potato and then you roll it out and put peanut butter on it and roll it up like a dessert roll, and then put it in the fridge until it hardens. It’s very, very sweet.
Susan Oh my gosh, I guess so! Lastly, just do you have a favorite book of your lifetime?
Dina Oh, man. It’s so hard to choose. Well, I guess the book that really got me into, well, okay, there are two that really got me into reading when I was a kid. So, the first book I ever read on my own was called Purple, Green and Yellow, and it was literally about a girl who would color herself with markers until she got “super indelible, never come off until you die or maybe even later markers.” Like, that’s literally a line in the book! And that’s always stuck with me because it was the first book I was able to read by myself. And then, The Giver was something that I read in middle school that has always stuck with me. It was when I was first getting into audiobooks, and wasn’t sure if I could handle listening to a book. I was like, “Oh, well, I’ve read that enough, and it’s something that would be an easy way to introduce myself to it.” That’s what I would go back to, and stuff. So that was kind of a big book for me throughout my life.
Susan That’s cool. Well, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for participating in my blog series!
Dina Thank you for including me, and it was great to talk to you.
Welcome Readers! I am so happy you’re here for the launch of my Fall Blog Series, which will focus on the editorial side of the publishing world. Today I am so excited to share my conversation with Tina Moss, co-owner of City Owl Press. Tina and her co-owner, Yelena Casale, started this press from the ground up several years ago, and their press has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception a decade ago.
In today’s interview, Tina shares with us a little bit of the background behind City Owl Press, as well as the process of publishing itself. Have you ever wondered what the query process is like, or what happens after you sign a publishing contract? Now’s your chance to find out!
Fall is on the horizon, folks, and I have been pretty busy planning something AWESOME! A Fall blog series is in the works, and you’re not going to want to miss it! First, a few questions for you:
Are you a writer?
Are you curious about the editorial process, from the perspective of the publishing house?
Have you ever wondered how editors choose which projects they accept for their publishing houses?
If you answered “YES!” to any or all of these questions, you’re in luck! I will be meeting with some amazing editors soon, and sharing our conversations with you. In the process, we will discuss these topics and many more.
I am lining up interviews now, and when I have a schedule for posts nailed down, I will share that here as well. I hope you’ll join me!
You’re Turn! If you have any questions for the editors that you are dying to know the answers to, drop them into the comments, and I will do my best to include them when I interview the editors.
Writer’s Block. Here is the definition, according to my online dictionary:
phrase of writer
the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
Writing a first draft is super difficult. That gem of an idea, that flicker of a character you only saw once in a dream but couldn’t forget, that feeling that shook you awake during yesterday’s meeting that you were sure would provide the fodder for a novel so amazing that it would practically write itself…what happened to all of that?
None of us can escape it. Writers slip into slumps. It happens. And when the slump is over, (it WILL end sometime!) jump back into that saddle and write on. Write on because you can, and write on because you need to. Rest assured, we all know that a slump will probably happen again.
And that’s okay, because as sure as the slumps come, they also go. It’s important to remember that.
For those of you who may find themselves in the throes of a first-draft writer’s block, this post is for you! Below, I have compiled some motivational quotes which I like a lot. Read on, and maybe some of these quotes will inspire you to write on, as well!
Do any of these quotes speak to you at this part of your writing journey?
What other quotes or notions have helped you get through writing a first draft? Please share in the comments!
Hello! Welcome to my Writer’s Block! Today, I’d like to bring up the idea of a writerly roller coaster. Can you relate to any of these ideas?
Being a writer is gratifying: The pictures in your mind, poured out through your fingertips, and transformed onto the leaves of a page. It’s a glorious feeling when a project comes to completion, or even simply when an early draft is complete.
But sometimes, being a writer is riddled with frustration. The pictures in your mind, knotted up in your fingertips, and hurling themselves, if you’re lucky, into a garbled mess on the screen in front of you. Again, if you’re lucky. Sometimes, a writer comes up empty.
The struggle is real, folks. We face the writerly roller coaster each and every day, hour to hour, even minute to minute. The words may flow with perfection one moment, then…they are gone. Writer’s block strikes again.
I revel in times of writerly feast, and ride that creative wave for as long as I can, but when writer’s block hits, I have to turn to other sources for help. When faced with Writer’s Block, there are several things I like to try to dislodge the blocks which hold my words back.
Introduce a new character. Maybe I’ll keep them, maybe not, but somehow, just putting in a new character’s perspective into the narrative can help. Who knows! That character may have just what it take to spin the plot a new and exciting way!
Take the last scene I wrote, and rewrite it from a different character’s perspective (I think I see a trend…). As in #1, above, this can help to spin the plot differently.
Seek inspiration online. Try Googling an image about the scene you are working on. Sometimes viewing a picture can encourage your mind to come up with words that eluded you before. This is an image I saw recently, and it really helped with my word flow:
Seek out writerly quotes for inspiration. Again, these can be effective in getting the writerly juices flowing. Here is one of my faves:
The process of writing is both glorious and challenging. I encourage you to celebrate your successes voraciously; I know I do! And when writer’s block hits, I challenge you to go after inspiration with just as much gusto! What are some of your go-to ideas for combatting the inevitable writer’s block? And how do you celebrate your writing victories? I’d love to hear all about it!
Thank you for stopping by today. Please leave your comments below!
My husband and I were married in 1996, which, in baseball terms, was Derek Jeter’s Rookie year as a Yankee. During the years that followed, we watched Jeter and the other members of the Yankees became super-successful in subsequent years. As a Yankee fan, I can tell you it was a thrilling time to follow the team.
Tonight, Jeter’s Number 2 was retired, and to commemorate the event, there were televised interviews and memories shared. But, what was it about Jeter that made him so great? Was it natural born talent? Was it that his parents raised him a particular way? Was it that he surrounded himself with people he wanted to emulate? Perhaps. More than likely, a combination of these created the baseball player he eventually would become.
During the Jeter event today, one commentator made a statement which stuck with me. He said something to the effect of “To achieve greatness, you can’t be afraid to fail.”
Ugh. That’s really hard. So many of us are programmed to “fail to fail”. We are taught that failure is bad, that failure will keep you from your goal. As a writer, failing can mean something small, like I don’t complete my word count, or something large, like secure a publishing contract. It means I might hit writer’s block and not be able to move a work forward. It could mean that the concept of a work in progress is a no-go, even when I have spent many months, or even years, trying to develop it.
Failure can be debilitating.
But it doesn’t have to be. During the Jeter festivities tonight, more than one person commented that Jeter expected to win every day. He gave his all every time out on the field. When he “failed” on the field, his took that failure as an opportunity for growth. That’s why he was such a good Yankee captain.
Jeter was successful because he wan’t afraid to fail.
As writer’s, we can use this concept to our advantage. What does failure as a writer really mean? Sure, the word count miss, or the lack of a publishing contract seems like they are fails. However, in the bigger picture, we can look at these little failures as part of our eventual path to greatness. If we keep at it, refuse to give up, change some things when what we are doing doesn’t work out, we will all get there.
Next time, when writer’s block hits, I think I will try something “radical” with my plot or characters, and see where it takes me. Maybe next time, I won’t be afraid to play with the structure of a work, if it seems to be “failing”. I hope I have the courage to do so.
I’m glad I got to watch Jeter’s celebration tonight between games of the double header. It gave me the courage to accept failure as part of a longer, more interesting, path to authorly success.
I hope things are going well with you all, and thanks for reading. Do you have any advice for spinning failure into the big picture of success? Let me know in the comments!
It is with heartfelt gratitude that I write this post. Today, in my WordPress notifications, I got the best news: I have reached the milestone of 100 follows to my blog!
This may seem like a minuscule accomplishment to many. I personally follow blogs with many more followers than on hundred.But for this small town author, it means the world, and I couldn’t be more pleased!
I have used this as a forum to showcase authors and their work, to discuss both classic literature and new reads, to talk about issues that writers face, and delve into perspectives in the publishing world. Through the years of my authoring this blog, I have learned a lot, shared a lot, and met a lot. I am humbled by all of you who have read, commented on, and liked my posts.
Thank you for the follows. Thank you for the comments through the years . And thank you for taking an interest in my writerly work. I am beyond excited for what is on the horizon. It continues to be an honor to share it all with you.
It’s so hard to believe that it is almost the holiday season! But this isn’t a post about the holidays. Not really. Well, perhaps a little. It’s a post about how time can get away from us, and the feelings of guilt that can come along with that, from a writer’s perspective. So, with the holiday season approaching, let us encourage each other with the gift of no guilt.
I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that picture!
In an earlier post, I outlined how I fit writing into my teaching life. You can read that post here. As I look at that post, I freak out a little bit, because, my writing life at the moment isn’t at all what it would typically be at this point. It’s not that I am so rigid that I have to fit my life to a certain mold to feel fulfilled as a writer. I know that the aforementioned post is pretty much an outline that I try to follow on a yearly basis. Historically, it’s a plan that has worked well.
But this year, not so much.
Life Happens 🙂
You see, time has gotten away from me. My school schedule is somewhat different, and that has thrown a bit of a wrench into the writerly plan I used to follow. Which coaxes the guilt to set in. Who else has been there? We make the grandest plans for writing productivity, and then we torture ourselves with guilt when we can’t meet our goals. (I hope I am not alone!)
I don’t think it’s a great thing to berate ourselves for not being able to meet them. Obviously, if you are writing to meet professional deadlines, and you have an income attached to it, that might be a different story. But for me, I can’t let a little thing like guilt stop me.
It can be difficult to put this into perspective, but it sometimes takes years to get a book right. Not only that, but many of us have many writing projects going on at the same time; some on submission, some merely outlined, some with Beta readers, some in a very rough first draft. And as awesome as it is to have created so many projects, it can get overwhelming. This again fuels the fires of guilt.
We might ask ourselves, “Why can’t I finish anything?” When these feelings of guilt pounce into my writing life, I need to remember to step back, and appreciate the “little victories” that I have accomplished. So I didn’t start a new NaNo this month. That’s okay. So I missed a few Sunday blog posts. It happens.
The good news? I opened up my “guilt-free” package today and found a whole lot of great stuff!
There are always positive things we writers can look back to, and forward towards the future. I’ve been inspired to dust off a partially written manuscript, and create some lovely scenes that I hadn’t even considered before. And the creative mind in me always churns out new ideas to explore. I’m going to ride that train as long as I can.
So in the end, this post is about me taking my own advice. And getting back to the pretty little “guilt-free” gift at the beginning of this post… I hope you can open it up and find some awesomeness to celebrate about your writing life. Tell me…How do you deal with guilt as a writer? What kinds of awesome are in you “guilt-free” gift box? Please share your comments below.