Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Editor Interview: Christine Riley of Total-E-Bound

Today is my second editor interview as editors are very interesting people, just like writers. Please welcome Christine Riley, editor for Total-E-Bound at http://www.total-e-bound.com and be sure to ask questions and leave comments for her. I enjoyed picking her brain and getting more insight into how editors think, what to do and not to do. 1) What are your pet peeves in the stories that have been submitted to you? Is there something you see a lot you'd like to tell writers not to do? (I imagine there could be several so this question could conceivably be the main part of the post - list as many as you'd like) My biggest pet peeves are: · Abusive characters. I can’t stand the heroes who are more asshat than alpha. There’s nothing that bugs me more than a sadistic character who the heroine (or other hero) falls in love with anyway. I find it unbelievable and annoying. In this same vein, female characters who are so bitchy that they’re impossible to sympathize with are also on my list of things to avoid. · Perfect characters. Perfect characters have no room for development and are therefore boring. Also, I end up wanting to slap them because they’re so unrealistic. · Lack of defined conflict. Conflict drives the story. Without conflict – both internal and external – the story really has nowhere to go. · Stilted dialogue. Listen to the way people speak. The majority of people use contractions in their everyday speech. Unless you’re writing a historical, please use contractions. · Lack of emotional content. Readers need to know what the characters are thinking and feeling. When the thoughts and feelings are glossed over, or worse, nonexistent, readers won’t connect emotionally with the characters. Without an emotional connection, they may not care if they finish your book and be far less likely to buy your next one. · Too much backstory. I don’t want to know a character’s entire history when I first open a book – I just want to be present at that moment when their life is about to permanently change and see how the story progresses from there. 2) What tips do you have for writers you've contracted about working with you? I’m really pretty laid back, the only tips I have are · Please meet the deadlines we’ve agreed upon. I understand that life can often get in the way and that emergencies happen. So if something changes on your end and you can’t meet the deadline, let me know what’s happening as soon as possible. · Please read every edit and respond to it one way or another. · Talk to me if you don’t understand something I’ve said or don’t agree with it – I’m always open to negotiation. 3) What are your tips for writers to present their best foot forward when submitting to you? I know this is going to sound really basic, but please proofread for spelling and grammar errors. I’m often amazed by the errors I see in submissions. If you can, have a critique partner or friend read through it before you submit. Please don’t include deeply personal information in your query letter. Some writers feel that they need to explain why they’re qualified to write a particular story. Often this results in the sharing of private, highly personal details of the author’s life. It’s always best to err on the side of professionalism. If it’s not information you’d announce to complete strangers while in line at the grocery store, it’s probably best not to put it in a query letter. Please understand that a rejection of a story is not a rejection of the author as a person and writing angry emails to the editor won’t encourage him or her to look at other stories you might wish to submit in the future. 4) What percentage of stories do you accept vs. the amount you reject? Do you know these stats for TEB overall? Do you know what percentage of stories you accept from writers who are new to submitting to TEB vs. already contracted TEB authors? I honestly don’t know the stats for TEB as a whole, but I can tell you that I reject a whole lot more than I accept. As for new authors vs. existing authors, lately I’ve received far more stories from existing authors than I have from new authors – but to be fair, I’ve received more from existing authors. 5) What kind of stories do you most wish to receive? Which type would you prefer not to receive? For the most part, I’m honestly open to anything as long as it falls into Total-e-bound’s guidelines. That said, I really don’t care for Fem Dom. I’ve got authors who write a little bit of everything – vampires, fairies, BDSM, M/M, ménage, contemporary, historical, shape shifters, ménage – I think the only thing I (personally) haven’t seen come through is a futuristic, but I’d certainly be willing to take a look at it if it did. The thing I want most in a story is a compelling love story, hot sex, believable characters, enough conflict to make the story a page turner and enough thoughts and feelings from the main characters to feel a connection to them. Without the emotional content, even the hottest story falls flat. 6) What kind of stories are selling the best at TEB at this point in time? Would you advise writers to write to the market and focus on writing these type of stories? I think the stories that currently sell the best are M/M Ménage, and BDSM. I would never advise a writer to write something they’re not comfortable with because it will absolutely show in the writing. I also think that following the market can backfire on authors if the market becomes too saturated with a particular type of story. I think the most important thing for an author to do is to write a story he or she feels passionate about. And right now, if your passion is M/M BSDM…all the better – lol! 7) What are the main problems you see with submissions at TEB? The biggest problems I see with submissions are · characters that are more caricature than character · lack of conflict – especially internal conflict · lack of thoughts and feelings on the part of characters 8) What advice would you give to someone who wishes to become an editor? How would they go about it if they feel qualified? I’d suggest starting out as a proofreader and getting a feel for how the publishing business works and then working up to an editorial position. Most houses have proofreading and/or editorial tests available. 9) Is there anything any of your authors do that annoy you? That you'd like to advise them not to do? The thing that drives me the most batty is when I give edits and authors ignore them. Now, I’m not talking about missing a comment here or there – that happens to the best of us. J I’m talking about ignoring half to three quarters of the edits with no explanation as to why. I’ve always had the policy that if an author doesn’t agree with an edit, we can discuss it. If they disagree with a change that I’ve suggested, they need to leave me a note in the manuscript as to why so we can talk it and figure out the best course of action to take. When the comments are just ignored (sometimes repeatedly) that annoys me to no end. Luckily, I have very few authors who do that. 10) Do you have any other advice or tips you'd like to share with writers? Read books from the houses you’re submitting to. It’s the best way to discover the kind of stories a particular house is looking for. Practice your craft, glean what advice you can from books, blogs, rejection letters and critique partners and use what makes sense to you. Most importantly, never give up. Great advice, Christine. I know you’re a busy woman, so I doubly thank you for taking the time to be here with us today and sharing so much. Have a very Merry Christmas and the best of new years. Thanks again! Ashley


Unknown said...

Thank you Chris for joining me today

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Great interview, ladies!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having me, Ash! :)


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