Editor panel reveals how submissions rise out of the slush pile and how to query

(Part two of editor panel news from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Conference)

by Janet Lane

The editor panel this year featured–

Moshe Feder, Consulting Editor for Tor Books

Latoya Smith, Assistant Editor for Grand Central Publishing

Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press (Harlequin digital)

Brian Farrey, Acquiring Editor for Flux, Llewellyn’s Young Adult (YA)

Lindsey Faber, Managing Editor for Samhain Publishing.

How submissions rise out of the slush pile

At Samhain, there’s an agent pile and a slush pile.  “One person logs and sends the sub to an initial reader,” Lindsey said.  “The acquiring editor can make decision independently and doesn’t need a committee. “

At Flux, submissions used to be open to unagented mat’l but it became too overwhelming.  Since March they accept no unagented submissions.  “I prioritize my in-box by what’s I’m looking for, not chronologically,Brian said. He was a book publicist before he became an editor, and this publishing background helps him. “I can put on my publicist hat and present a full package.  I’d love it to always be about the brilliant writing, but this is why I think it will succeed.  I ask myself, ‘How can I sell it if I can’t compare it to anything?’ I have the answers because I know publicity.”

“Our subs hit slush piles for 13 editors,” Angela James said. “We match it to genre and an editor reads it. We do have an acquisition board that includes digital marketing and sales.”   There are eight on the acquisition team.  “We discuss as a team if it’s a book we can get passionately behind.”  She said to think of the process as an  “America Idol” approach of approval.  It’s a go “if two or more people can get behind it, someone on the team who can market and say yes, we can market this book.”

If what Latoya Smith reads is not quite right for her, she passes it along to another reader. If she likes it, she brings it to the editorial board, to either the hard-cover or paperback editor or chief, or to a specific imprint project.  “If I can get them behind me, I can acquire.” Grand Central takes both agented and unagented material.  Every Thursday projects are presented.  And Latoya can’t just love the writing.  “I have to present at least two comparison authors before we can market it.”

Moshe Feder accepts unsolicited subs for Tor, which are read by editorial assistants. The majority of the submissions come from unagented authors.  He often meets writers at sci fi meetings and pitch sessions.  “I’m open to working with new authors.  “It’s not just a question of getting through the acquisition proess, but how I am going to most effectively market this book.  I publish from passion.”

 Nuts and Bolts – How to Query Them

If you wish to submit to Brian Farrey of Flux, you’ll need to have agent representation.  All of the remaining editors accept unagented submissions.  Before submitting, always check the publisher’s website because requirements do vary from publisher to publisher.

Attend conferences, like RMFW’s Colorado Gold, where these gems of information were discovered.  Read articles like these, from RMFW’s Writer newsletter, offered as one of the many benefits of membership in RMFW.

Another tool I find extremely useful is querytracker.net, where you can quickly check an editor’s website and other useful publishing websites and even, if you’re lucky, find interviews that reveal the editor’s current interests and needs.

Now armed with all this information, go forth and create! Write! Polish! And may all of us be blessed with a wealth of opportunity in our quests for publication.

During RMFW’s conference Janet Lane received requests for partials of Traitor’s Moon, her romantic adventure set in 15th century England. Did you receive requests during the conference?  Share your conference success story!




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