He was so generous with his answers to my questions, that I broke his interview into two parts. Read Part I here. Today features his responses to five more questions about how editors and authors can make each other's lives easier and suggestions for how writers can improve their chances for success in submissions.
Q: In general, how far do you have to read in a submission before you realize you love it and want to acquire it?
A: It varies too much to really have a "general" answer. With some books I know within one page, and I'm praying throughout the rest of the manuscript that it won't jump the shark and will gratify all my boyish hopes and dreams, etc.
Others have had a slow start, but there was a spark that prompted me to keep reading for a chapter, two chapters, five, until that little hint flourished into a great story.
There have been others where even on the last page, I wasn't sure. Those are the ones I have to walk away from for a little while. If I find I can't stop thinking about them, and realize I really made an emotional connection with the characters and they're sticking with me, then I know.
Q: What are the qualities of your dream author? Which quality is *most* important? Why?
A: It's kind of hard to answer this without saying "all my authors are my dream authors." Seriously, they're all different, but I love them all and they're amazing to work with.
If I was going to build an Authortron 2000, though, I'd say they would be a consistent producer of quality stories with a great voice. I don't mean they need to churn out a story a month, but one to two really good stories a year--stories that show attention to their craft and a dedication to good storytelling, while still producing steadily enough to build and keep a loyal fanbase.
They'd need to be patient and have one hell of a sense of humor, both to deal with me and to handle the stress that chopping apart their manuscripts can cause. They'd need to be dedicated. They'd need to be open to the editing process, flexible, and willing to learn.
They'd need a solid understanding of how the industry works.
They'd need to have a great author presence when interacting with readers, and be accessible on social media as a real person readers feel like they can connect with. They shouldn't think of themselves as le artiste. They shouldn't need hand-holding, though I don't mind coaching, especially for new authors on their first book. What matters is that they learn from that coaching and grow through each successive edit.
The most important out of all that? I'm going to cheat and list two: flexibility and dedication. The editing and publishing cycle is one of constant change.
It's rare that the story you submit will be the story that gets published, though the core of it will still be there. Same house, new furniture. (Sometimes same house, same furniture, furniture drastically rearranged. There's a bidet in the kitchen.) Release dates will change. Cover art will change. Jacket copy will change. You have to be flexible to be able to adapt to that and just roll with the punches without having a meltdown.
And you need the dedication to commit to all the hard work involved. Someone once told me that my job as an editor isn't nearly as hard as her job as the writer actually producing the story, and I just didn't understand. I do. I've done both, and I can tell you actually writing the book is just the first small step. That's the easy part. Even selling the book is easy compared to the amount of work both the editor and author must do to get a book ready for publication. There are generally dozens of people involved and it's a whirlwind of activity, change, and sometimes disappointment--and I know how it feels both as an editor and as a writer implementing his editor's corrections. You need dedication to survive that, then dive back in for another round fully knowing what you're getting into.
Q: You write as well as edit. What has being an editor taught you about your writing?
A: That I need to listen to my own damned advice. ~laughs~ No, seriously. I kind of had this epiphany when I was working on an author's manuscript, that all these mistakes I keep highlighting? I do this. I do this, but I act like it's okay because it's me, when it's not okay at all. That was years ago, but I basically felt like I slapped myself in the face, and I needed it.
|Personal demons lurk on every writer's path...|
Every writer's been through this stage, I think. Where they think their mistakes are forgivable because it's artistic license.
No matter how professional you are as a writer, you'll have some demons to work through as you sort yourself out and figure out your path. That was mine: getting over this love affair with my own overdone prose and learning to write as cleanly and sharply as I expect of my authors.
I'm still not sure I've succeeded, but I am more self-aware--and when I edit my own work, I'm probably even harder on myself than I am on them. I'll go through an entire edit pass where I deliberately make myself hate my manuscript, so I can identify what's really good and what really sucks. Before that self-administered slap in the face, I'd have thought it was all good.
In fact, some of the #editortips I tweet? Are actually mistakes I've caught myself making. I'm not saying "Look, this author screwed up with me by doing this; don't do this." I'm saying "Look, I screwed up. Don't make my mistakes."
Q: What are some things you would like to see more of in your submissions inbox?
A: Post-apocalyptic. Zombies. Horror. SciFi. Steampunk. PoC. LGBT. Dark stories with the villain as the hero. Anything that breaks the category mold.
I'm a little glutted on contemporary right now, and have a roster of talented authors constantly producing more great stories, so contemporary's a bit of a hard sell for me right now--but I'd love a good romantic comedy.
I have some weirdly specific things I'm looking for, too, like a YA about space gypsies. Or a story that tackles alchemical magic in a way that believably integrates real physics and chemistry. Or a story that combines magic and technology with a good logical foundation. Or, if you really want to sell me a contemporary, something Dexter-ish with highly dysfunctional people who still manage to find romance. If that can even count as a contemporary.
Q: If people wish to submit fiction to the imprints of Entangled Publishing for which you are an editor, what is the best way to go about it?
A: For the Flirt and Ever After lines in general, you can submit to:
I do acquire for the Entangled/Entangled Select, Entangled Teen, and various category lines, though, so if you have something for one of those lines that you think is right up my alley, you can send it directly to me at adrien-luc(at)entangledpublishing(dot)com.
The submission information page at http://www.entangledpublishing.com/submission-information/ has links to the submission guidelines for all of the lines, as well as to the Entangled blog, where we post special thematic calls for submissions. We have several open on the F&EA lines right now; I have a sub call roundup linking them all from my blog here: http://kowloonbynight.com/2012/05/23/sub-call-roundup/ .