Editorial Director for Indulgence at Entangled Publishing
WG: Welcome, and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us a bit about yourself.
LW: I've published 64 books of my own, but now, in addition, I'm the editorial director for Indulgence, a new line of category romances from Entangled Publishing. I've held that position since October, so not long. I did spend five years teaching a romance writing course that I developed for Ed2go, the largest supplier of adult education in the world. I also do mentoring through Savvy Authors. I have a Bachelors degree in nursing, a certificate in forensic nursing and I'm currently earning my Masters degree in Liberal Arts from TCU.
WG: Can you tell us why you decided to pursue a career as an editor and what steps you took to get you where you are today?
LW: Publishing is changing and changing quickly. When the opportunity came along to head up a line of category romances for an online publisher, I was intrigued. The offer came about as a result of the teaching and the mentoring work I'd done. What made me really say yes was how excited I became at the thought of a new challenge. Plus, our publisher, Liz Pelletier is fantastic. I knew any endeavor that Liz threw her muscle behind was bound to be a huge success. I wanted in!
WG: What genres/lines do you currently acquire?
LW: Indulgence is category romance. Short, fast reads featuring traditional tropes with the focus on the evolving romance, but we want creative out-of-the box writing for today's savvy modern audience. Right now, the books we're doing are fun, sexy reads, but we are considering several new additions for the future.
WG: When was the last time you acquired the work of an author from the slush pile?
LW: I bought two authors from the slush pile this week. We're a new line so we're eager for inventory.
WG: Are you actively seeking out new authors, and if so, what would it take to catch your eye?
LW: Yes! We want new authors. A strong voice immediately catches my attention. If I love an author's voice, I will work with her even if the manuscript has a few weaknesses. I want prolific authors who love writing with a passion.
WG: Do you think contest credits help an author further their career? Have you ever acquired a manuscript that you discovered via a writing contest?
LW: Contests are mainly about the authors' ego and there's nothing wrong with that. This business is brutal and any recognition that keeps you in the game is worth it. That said, some authors become professional contesters, polishing those first chapters but never really learning how to finish a book well. I do pay attention to see who is winning contests. It gives me an indication of who the up and comers are, but I haven't yet bought anyone as a result of a contest.
WG: When asked what they look for in a new author, most editors and agents will mention a fresh and/or strong voice. How do you personally define voice?
LW: A strong voice is when the author shows through on the page. Not in terms of author intrusion, obviously, but when the author doesn't sound like anyone but herself. Honestly, every story under the sun has been told. The only thing you can bring to the table that's different is you. Your life experiences, your word choice, the things that interest you.
WG: Have you ever considered penning a novel yourself?
LW: Since I've written 64 books and have no plans to retire from writing, the answer is yes.
WG: How would you describe your editorial style?
LW: I believe in giving the authors their heads with creativity. Hop right out of that box. The only traditional things that I want to see are those tropes that sell. (Cowboys, friends-to-lovers, ugly duckling, matchmakers, mistaken identity, pretend engagement, etc...)That said, I'm a tough editor. I want you to be the best writer you can possibly be. I will push you hard to reach your potential. We have three rounds of revisions for everyone before we ever go to copy edits.
WG: What is your involvement with the author's creative process? With his/her career planning?
LW: I want the authors to go wild with creativity. I think about the old Loveswept line and how creative those books were. Look at all the huge names that sprang from that line. Iris Johansen, Kay Hooper, Jenny Crusie, Tami Hoag, Deborah Smith, Janet Evanovich. I think what made that line so successful was that they were creatively written and well edited. My vision for Indulgence is to acquire and mold the powerhouse category authors of the future.
WG: What do you see as the main strength you personally bring to the table as an editor?
LW: Passion. I'm passionate about books, about writing, about authors. I think this is the most exciting time in the history of publishing and I feel blessed to be in the big middle of it.
WG: Are some/all of your submissions read by someone else in house before they reach you? If so, what sort of feedback and/or screening do you expect that reader to provide?
LW: We do have some interns, but I also read my own slush as does our managing editor, Alethea Spirdon-Hopson. If a project goes through interns, it gets three reads. If all three recommend we buy it, then I'll take a look. At some point in the process, I read every single manuscript we acquire.
WG: Realistically, what is the normal timeframe for your response to queries? Partials? Fulls?
LW: 6-8 weeks, although right now, since we're building inventory, it might be faster.
WG: Given that you feel an individual author's manuscript is marketable, how important is it that you personally like the work in order for you to pursue acquiring it?
LW: If the writing is good, the voice is strong and the marketing is on target, it doesn't have to be my personal cup of tea for me to buy it. Example: I'm not a fan of sheik books myself but I do know they sell well. Your manuscript will be given to an editor who loves it. No one at Entangled works on a manuscript that doesn't interest them. All our editors pick and chose the stories they want to edit. So there's no worry that your sheik book won't be loved and respected.
WG: What input do you personally have on the cover art selected for the manuscripts you acquire? What level of involvement do you feel the author should have in this process?
LW: Because Indulgence is a category line, all the covers will have a similar look. As editorial director I'm involved in the cover art development. We have a cover art sheet for the authors to tell us what they'd like to see on the cover. We're open to input from out authors.
WG: Do you feel that writers' conferences provide significant value to you in the way of personal contact with your authors, other authors (either published or unpublished), and/or other industry professionals? Do you receive any value from other offerings such as the presentations, pitch appointments, and/or networking opportunities?
LW: Absolutely. The Internet is great, but there's nothing like meeting face to face to build relationships. I go to five or six conferences every year and I always have. The pitch appointments are a nice way to meet the author, but ultimately, until I see the work I don't know for sure if it's a project that's right for us.
WG: Do you visit the websites and blogs of authors you work with or of authors you are considering acquiring? If so, is there something in particular you look for that potentially impacts your view of the author and their work?
LW: Yes I do. I'm looking for signs of professionalism. I want to acquire working authors I can have a long relationship with. Not dabblers.
WG: Do you approach submissions by agented authors differently from those without agents? Does your familiarity with/opinion of the agent impact this?
LW: I assume a certain level of quality in the submissions I get from agents, but other than that, I don't approach them any differently.
WG: What piece of advice or 'pearl of wisdom' would you like to offer authors who are considering submitting a work to you--or to any editor for that matter?
LW: Be easy to work with. Don't be a diva. All books - and I do mean all - benefit from editing.
WG: What sort of misconceptions/ unrealistic expectations have you encountered from authors about what an editor's role is that you would like to correct?
LW: We're not the enemy. If we give you strong revisions it doesn't mean we hated your work. In fact, it usually means we loved your work and we can see the potential in you and we know if we just push you a little harder you could be exceptional. If I push you hard it means I totally believe you can do it!
WG: How important do you think self-promotion is to a writer's career? If so, is there a particular area of promotion that you feel is most effective?
LW: Oh gosh, who knows? I do know the authors who self-promote tend to sell better than those who do nothing, but what and where and how much? No one seems to have a definitive answer. Plus, you don't want to self-promote so much you turn people off. Honestly, I think it's more about building a community. Do whatever you like best, FB, twitter, blog and don't obsess about the rest. The most important thing you can do for your career is to write another great book.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share?
LW: "I am a part of everything that I have read." - Theodore Roosevelt.
WG: What do you do to relax and have fun?
LW: I love watching movies, knitting, going for walks, spending time with family and friends and I'm addicted to Angry Birds.
WG: Other than your client's work, what do you enjoy reading?
LW: I'm a big fan of suspense novels.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
LW: The Wire, Dexter, The Gilmore Girls, Lost (before that whack job ending) The Sopranos, The Good Wife, Damages. The reason is always the same except for a few guilty pleasures like Survivor - the writing, the writing, the writing.
WG: Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on your life? In what way?
LW: Probably the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie series. I loved those books so much.
WG: Before we close, is there anything else you'd like to mention about yourself or the publisher?
LW: I'm deeply impressed by how much our publisher, Liz Pelletier, cares about writers. The majority of us at Entangled are also writers, so we get it. Since we work solely on commission, our success depends on your success. We work hard for you.
WG: Is there a website you can point us to where folks can go to learn more about you and/or your publishing house?
WG: And finally, thanks again for taking some time to 'stop by' this month!