Saturday, 10 May 2014

What do editors look for? Sharazade

1) Do your research. Only submit a query or a manuscript to an appropriate publisher. That means you familiarize yourself with their current published works—reading some, if at all possible—and make sure you know what sorts of things they publish. If they only publish ebooks, don’t insist on a paperback. If they publish mainly erotic romance, they’re probably not going to take your edgy tale of non-consent. If you’re not sure, of course you can ask—but your questions will come off a lot better if you clearly know who they are. A publisher can tell when you’ve just gotten a list off the Internet somewhere and cut and pasted the same submission letter to each one. And that’s not really more efficient for you, because it’s going to lead to more confusion and rejections.

2) Submit what they ask you to submit. If they want a query letter first, send a query letter first. If they want two sample chapters, send two sample chapters—not one, not the whole book. You are not a special snowflake. Follow the directions.

3) Submit how they ask you to submit. Some publishers don’t want attachments. Some only want attachments. If they want Times New Roman, 12 point, then use that. If they want it hand-written with pictures of clowns on odd-numbered pages, then do that if you want to be published by them. If you don’t find yourself willing (or able) to comply with their query or submission process, you’re not going to want them to handle your book. (If they don’t say at all, then you can’t go wrong with Times New Roman, 12 point, ragged margins, double-spaced, in a Word .doc or a .pdf. Don’t do the clowns thing unless asked.)

4) Please, oh please, check your cover letter for typos, and also tone. It’s nice to sound human, but not so casual you seem inattentive.  Be positive and confident, but arrogance rarely goes over well. Don’t apologize. If you don’t have a degree in writing or you’ve never published before or you secretly worry that the manuscript everyone in your critique group loves is actually crap, keep all that to yourself. Explain the qualifications and publication history you do have, if any; but don’t point out any lacks if you don’t. Ultimately, it’s your book that’s going to be judged—not what sort of life you led in order to write it. Remember too that publishers are more interested in authors who have more than one book in them. They’re easier to promote, and all their books sell better. If you have more than one finished manuscript, or you have published in other places, or at least have ideas for future books, mention that.

5) Don’t submit a rough draft. Yes, you’ll get edited—although increasingly I see fiction editors giving a manuscript a copy edit, and not a content edit. Even if you’re lucky enough to be assigned the sort of editor who will work intensively with you, you should always submit your best effort. Someone should have read it in addition to you (and not someone romantically involved with you) and provided feedback, which you should have at least considered, if not taken on board. It goes without saying that you used a spellcheck, and also read it carefully for typos and errors with homonyms. This is your tryout. A publisher wants to see your very best writing.

6) (I was going to cheat and add this to one of the other five, but that would only be confusing.) Allow at least two months to hear back. If you don’t hear back after four months, it is perfectly fine to send a polite follow-up query.


I’ve worked as an editor for about ten years, three years in-house with a New York publisher, and the rest freelance. I’ve worked with three of the “Big Six Five” and numerous smaller presses. I’ve worked as a content editor, development editor, production editor, copy editor, and proofreader. I’m also a published author, with about 40 books (non-fiction) to my passport name, and to my pen name (erotica) one single-author anthology, a few single short stories, and short stories in anthologies with Cleis Press, Sizzler, and the Erotic Literary Salon. In 2010 I launched 1001 Nights Press, a small erotica publisher that I’d describe as “cautiously open” to new writers (cautious because of time commitments, not because you aren’t a fantastic writer).

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Five tips from Sedonia Guillone

 Author and publisher, Sedonia Guillone has more than fifty novels, novellas and short stories published at Ellora's Cave, Red Sage, Loose Id, Torquere Press, and Total-e-Bound Publishing.

1. work as hard as you can on Improving your craft BEFORE you submit anything. The best way I have found to do this is 1. to get with a good critique partner who will be honest with you about your writing and not just tell you your writing is fabulous all the time and 2. to get a copy of Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, study it well and apply the lessons. if an editor has to renovate your work completely then you will find yourself getting rejection letters rather than acceptances.

2. Be a good writer to work with. Don't argue with your editor on his/her suggestions or reject any of them out of hand. Weigh everything thoughtfully. In other words: DON'T be a writing diva. Be polite and timely and respectful and editors will be happy to work with you and even help you along to push up release dates and things like that.

3. When going over your work, out yourself in the reader's place. Is what you're trying to say coming through clearly? In other words approach your writing with objectivity. Many authors know what they mean in their head but the meaning doesn't come through clearly in the words they choose.

4. This tip is for erotica writers: make sure your erotic scenes are sensual. Don't use words for body parts that are gross and crude. Make sure your erotic scenes are part of the natural flow of the story and not artificially stuck into the story. Also make sure you don't have people doing things that in reality are physically impossible or out of character for that person.

5. It's always good to make a print copy of your work and read it on paper we revising. You'd be surprised at how different the pacing is on paper as opposed to the computer screen.

Sedonia Guillone now owns and operates Ai Press, an erotic romance publisher of e-books and trade paperbacks. You can find her work at and