I have a serious girl-crush on Deborah Nemeth. Deb is my editor at Carina Press and she's generously agreed to answer a few questions. She's an editor in high demand so I really appreciate her taking the time to visit.
Deb recently edited Apocalypse Rising (out TODAY) and I've learned so much from her over the course of editing this book. She's an intuitive editor, grasping what the story needs as it develops. How she can read the same story over and over again and come up with new suggestions leaves me in awe. Editing is hard work! Yet she makes it look effortless. I hit the jackpot when I got her.
Please welcome my extra-special guest. Feel free to ask questions. I'm sure she'll pop in sometime today to answer them.
Q: What subgenres do you actively seek?
A: Thanks for starting out with an easy question, and one I can talk about at length. Short answer: I like variety, so pretty much any genre fiction except horror and inspirational. As most editors tell authors, voice is the most important attribute, followed by compelling characters and a gripping story. Carina doesn’t just publish romance, and I’m always looking for mysteries of all sorts, from gritty police procedurals to English village cozies.
One of my favorite genres is steampunk, a clever blend of SF/fantasy and historical fiction. Another is historicals—Regency (of course!), but any period from ancient civilizations to WW2, as well as unusual and exotic settings from Spain to Persia to Siam.
I also enjoy action-packed thrillers and suspense; lighthearted capers, chick lit and rom com; and dark, angsty contemporaries, women’s fiction and paranormals. For SFF, I’m seeking solid, unique world-building, and I especially enjoy epic fantasy, Arthurian, space opera, space westerns, futuristic. I’m open to genre blends and less popular niches such as family sagas. I acquire all heat levels from sweet to erotic and am always seeking more m/m authors and multicultural stories.
Q: What advice would you give new authors when pitching their novels to Carina?
A: It’s always a good idea to read a publisher’s guidelines and follow the instructions. Beyond that, here are a few tips:
• Write the best story you can and take the time to polish it thoroughly.
• It’s not necessary but it’s always nice when an author takes the time to research the editors and addresses a personalized query, which can be sent to the general email address. Dear Deborah Nemeth, I read on Maria Zannini’s blog that you enjoy steampunk/unusual historical settings/capers/cozy mysteries…
• Our submissions review process is more thorough than at many epublishers, so please allow us sufficient time. At least two Carina Press editors/staff members must recommend a manuscript for acquisition, so it often takes longer.
• If you get a revise and resubmit letter, treat it as an opportunity, not as a rejection.
• If you’re new to epublishing, educate yourself about social media and building a web presence so you’re prepared for when you receive an offer of publication.
Q: Can you give us a checklist that tells an author when a manuscript is ready to make the rounds?
A: Here’s a checklist that less experienced authors might find useful:
1. Have you begun the story in the right place, to hook the reader with an intriguing situation, goal and motivation?
2. Is the setup/backstory cleverly interwoven and presented in steady drips, only giving the reader what we need to know to follow the action, instead of fed to the readers in big chunks of exposition?
3. Are your characters fleshed out? Do the protagonists have some flaws? Do the villains have any positive attributes? Have you given your protagonists a goal they feel passionate about, one that grabs the readers’ attention and makes them want to keep reading to find out the outcome?
4. If your story is a romance, do the hero and heroine have clashing goals? Have you provided both internal and external conflict?
5. Does tension steadily mount until the grand climax? Do you make it more and more difficult for the protagonists to achieve their goals?
6. Does every scene contain conflict? Does every scene begin and end on a hook?
7. Do you make your protagonists suffer? Do they learn, grow, change throughout the course of the story?
8. Do you bring the readers to a point in the story where they can’t see how the hero/heroine can possibly overcome their obstacle to achieve their goal?
9. Have you done multiple self-editing rounds, ruthlessly weeding out banal dialogue, stock gestures, clichéd language and situations? Is your prose as tight as you can make it, with repetition and unnecessary explanations pruned away, with no instances of telling what you show? No unnecessary dialogue tags or filler words that can come out?
10. Is your point of view as deep as you can make it? Have you eliminated unneeded filter words to bring us deeper into the viewpoint characters’ minds?
11. Has your manuscript been checked by crit partners who can give you competent and candid assessments of any weaknesses?
12. Have you read the dialogue out loud? Have you read the entire manuscript out loud, paying attention to meter and syntax, the rhythm of the prose?
These are terrific suggestions! Thank you, Deb for being my guest. You're the best!
Now dear readers, do you have any questions or comments?