Ask An Editor: The Answers (part 2)

November 18th, 2008 • Kate

More on my continuing mission to bring you all the answers you ever wanted from all the editors I dared to ask. Today’s first answer to JenFW’s question comes from an editor at a top teen imprint. She replies:

If there is no info on a writer, I don’t mind. That said, a nice, well-organized website can’t hurt either! I like to know about who they are as writers–for example, what books have had a big influence on them, did they attend any kind of writing program, have they been published before and where?
I don’t necessarily like to find out too much personal information–blogs about people writing in their pj’s or talking about their pets can come off as unprofessional to me. I guess, like everything, it depends on the person, too. If they are quirky, funny writers, then a quirky, funny website makes sense. If they write literary novels, a quirky, funny website might be a mismatch.

And another editor chimes in:

The kind of thing that makes a good impression is when an author has a good understanding of the business and how publishing works. Also, I love it when writers blog about writing itself — whether discussing their own process and/or inspirations, or giving practical advice to other aspiring writers. Quick thumbnail synopses of any works-in-progress can be very helpful to editors as well — I know that when I bring in a MS by a debut author, I always like to be able to mention if they have other ideas that I think are clever or marketable. And as you know, I’m also a sucker for an engaging blog voice!
As for what makes a bad impression, I have to admit that I’ve occasionally been put off when someone shares TOO much about their own publication process, including names, etc. I always advise authors to have a degree of discretion there. Also, if a writer wants their blog to be considered as a marketing tool, they have to make sure that it’s appropriate for the audience that they’re trying to reach with their writing. I’ve definitely had one or two authors whose blogs were more adult in tone/language wonder why we couldn’t mention the blog in their bio or post a link on our website.

Note the similar comments about blog content matching book content.
And speaking of book content (how’s that for a segue?), exciting new kt literary client Ransom Riggs is looking for a research assistant on a book about Sherlock Holmes. If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, email me for more information.

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7 Responses to “Ask An Editor: The Answers (part 2)”

  1. yellowbrick08 Says:

    Thanks so much for the info. As always, very useful.

  2. Marva Says:

    A segway is a two-wheeled vehicle. A segue is a change from one topic to another.
    Keep them straight, and you might have some gravitas as an agent.

  3. Kate Says:

    Gravitas? Pshaw! Have you seen me talk about shoes?
    But yes, thanks for the note Marva. I made the correction. Chalk it up to another word I've used in conversation but not in writing. "Segue" is pronounced "segway." Who knew?

  4. bridgetzinn Says:

    This is a great post! I love the individual comments from editors — very helpful. I appreciate that you did this for us! I'm just hoping that my work fits into "quirky funny" because there is no gravitas on my site (sadly) and there might sometimes occasionally be pictures of my cats. Justine Larbalestier calls putting cat pics up a cheap way to get blog readers and I totally agree (and use it to my benefit).

  5. Carrie Harris Says:

    I think you've got gravitas out the yingyang. I'm just sayin'.
    And thanks for the info!

  6. Kiersten Says:

    Yes, but some of those shoe pictures are VERY serious shoes.
    Thanks for this, Kate. Since I'm currently in the "getting myself out there" for potential editor google-ability it was very helpful!

  7. lotusloquax Says:

    Gravitas is way over-rated. I majored in Latin and taught it in high school. I can decline gravitas all the way through and whip it into erudite submission. Does that mean I can get my book published? Not if I can't drop the nose in the air and know what sells.