Tuesday, October 25, 2005

PANEL: Meet The Editor


TODAY'S PANEL: Stacy Boyd - Harlequin, Krista Stroever - Steeple Hill, Karen Thomas - Dafina Books, Monica Harris – Dorchester Books, Charlene Keel - Tantalizing Tales, Noemi Rivera - Ocean's Mist Press

Come meet some of the editors looking for new writers.

Post your questions in the comments section.

Please read the previous comments before you post, so we don’t have duplicate questions.

Please address your questions to a panel member or all panel members.


Anonymous said...

I am writing a collection of mystery stories with a 60-year old black, female, West African protagonist who lives in Harlem. I've sold one story of the series to Alfred Hitchcock by the way. I'm a short story Edgar winner and have other credentials. Will an imprint such as Dafina have an interest in the book?

Institute of Africana Cosmology said...


this is directed to all of the panelists.

have either of you ever picked up a pod or self-published book for a contract with either of your companies? if so, what made it attractive to you and did it do well sales wise?


LaShaunda said...

Welcome Panel,

I want thank you for taking time out of your schedule to answer questions for.

I have a few.

First one, should a writer have professional letter head when sending a query letter or does it even matter?

I'm told when you query, to also send the first chapter, so the editor gets a feel of your story. However if the guidelines say query first, isn't that shooting yourself in the foot?

Should a writer get thier book professional edited?

I won't take up all the questions, :)

Thanks again,

LaShaunda - OO

Tray said...

Hello. My question is should a new writer obtain an agent and if so, what kind of agent should she be looking for? I have heard that agents genrally don't respresent new writers and the ones who do are not worth their salt. As an editor, what are your thoughts. Thank you.

Leah Mullen said...

Greetings panel, this question is for Monica Harris:

I've recently completed a contemporary romance called Essence of You and I'm working on another called Resolve to Love.

My question is this:

Since you are starting a new line of AA romance novels with Dorchester, I was wondering if you were looking for something different, what will your focus be, ie contemporary, paranormal etc? Can you tell us how many AA romances you'll be signing a year to start? And when will the first books be pubbed?

Thanks for your time.

Leah Mullen (badge 25)

Anonymous said...

I'll answer in a long list.

POD books--in Steeple Hill we have not picked up POD titles.

Professional letterhead--There's no need to use professional letterhead, just have a neatly formatted letter. Don't use colored or scented paper or inks.

1st chapter--you can send it or not. It's not going to be a deal-breaker for anyone.

Professional editing--that's up to you. We do not require it, we just require that the manuscript be neat and as free from grammatical and spelling errors as possible.

Anonymous said...

Miki, I would be happy to take a look at the full manuscript once it is available. Since it is a short story collection, I'd prefer to see the entire manuscript rather than a sample chapter.

Dafina has published authors whose first titles were originally self-published. Our biggest success has been Mary B. Morrison. Each case is different as is each story, so there is no way to tell if every self published book will be a success for a mainstream publisher. As with any submission, the story must be well-written, that is what attracted me to Mary Morrison as well as Daaimah Poole and Brandon Massey (all self published authors).

Next response,
I don't believe writers should have professional letterhead, however I do believe if financially possible, writers should invest in having their work professionally edited. A good freelance editor can help you remove mistakes that would tend to put off in-house editors. I also believe this says alot about the investment a writer has in their craft and that they want their work to be the best it can be. That said, please take the time to really investigate any potential freelance editor before signing a contract or making any payments to them.

Final answer,
Dafina accepts submissions from unagented authors, however, most houses won't accept unagented works. If possible, find an agent.

Anonymous said...

Dorchester is looking for contemporary titles that can range from strong, emotional tales to comedies to sexy, next-to-the-bed titles --it all depends on the talents of the author. Dorchester will be publishing titles four times a year beginning in February 2006. Of course, as the program matures, more titles will be added and also more opportunities for subgenres (ex. paranormal). All authors and agents are invited to submit the first three chapters and synopsis to Dorchester for my attention.

I would prefer to see original works that have not been previously published but I would encourage authors to let me know of their publishing past and successes. That information is important to future publishing plans.

Monica Harris

Wayne said...


I'd like to find out a bit more about the new Dorchester AA line. I know Golden Heart Finalist Phyllis Bourne Williams is the launch author. What's your first months' line up?

I'd also interested in doing a feature at Romance in Color to coincide with the launch in February. I'll be doing an interview with Phyllis for that month too.

Please contact me at waj@romanceincolor.com

I'm really excited about this launch and love Phyllis' cover.

Wayne Jordan

ac arthur said...

Good morning,

This question is for Karen Thomas and Monica Harris.

For already published authors, is an agented submission still preferable?


Shelia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shelia said...

Questions to All: Once you receive the manuscript, what is the normal process? For example, approximately how many hands will the manuscript go through before a decision is made to sign an author? Does this process takes weeks or months on the average?

Shelia (Badge#16)

Shelia said...

Another question to all:
What is your submission preference when receiving works from a self-published authors? Would you accept their self-published work or do you prefer a NEW manuscript that has yet to be published?

Shelia (Badge#16)

Leann Writes said...

If an author has not heard after waiting for 3-4 months on a query, should the author follow up with a letter to find out the status of the query or is it just assumed that the publisher is not interested after that long of a period.

Also, I have (and am in the process of) writing a romantic trilogy. The first book, "Powwow Pickup", is complete; the second, "Chebon's Journey", is in manuscript form; the third, "Ilianna's Dilemma", is still a work in progress. At the same time I am working on a character spinoff from "Chebon's Journey". This is more of a paranormal titled "Voices of the Little People." The tie-in is that they are all centered around Native American culture. Would these be better targeted as multi-cultural or would it be better to separate them into Women's lit and paranormal?

Probably dumb questions but I would really like to know as the manuscripts don't seem to really fit just one area and even though there are Native American novels and writers out there, these still do not quit have a niche in which they fit or at least I have not yet discovered it--thanks--

Anonymous said...

Submission process--we try to turn the submission around (whether to make an offer on it or reject it) in 90 days at the outside. Once the ms is read by the acquiring editor, the ms is passed to the head of the imprint for her approval to buy.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone! Thanks for having me on your panel. If you have any questions about Silhouette Books, Harlequin Books or Luna Books, I'll be in and out of the blog all day. Now for some answers to questions.

POD/self-published books: Neither Luna Books nor Silhouette Books has set out to pick up a POD or self-published book for reprint. However, we did go to contract with a fantasy author (Jeri Smith-Ready) on a new project after I read--and loved--her POD/e-book *Requiem for the Devil*. It can be difficult to pick up POD/self-published titles (unless they've already sold extremely well) because the publishing house would have to deal with these as reprints. (However, keep in mind, editors are always interested in well-written projects, self-published or not.) As for Shelia's question about the submission preference for self-published authors, it's best to submit a new work, but to let the editor know about your publishing history.

Queries/professional letterhead and first chapters: Professional letterhead is by no means necessary. A neat, well-written letter that provides all essential information (contact info, writing experience, what the book is about) is all that is needed. If you send a first chapter, this won't hurt you, but if the query instructions/submisison guidelines don't ask for a chapter there is no need to send one.

Professional editing: At Silhouette and Luna we do not require professional editing before the submission is turned in. However, each project should be as grammatically clean as possible and the story should be an example of the writer's best work. (If you aleady know the story sags in the middle or has a few logic problems, it's not ready for submission.) If our editors are interested in acquiring the project, we'll be happy to work with you to make the story even stronger.

Agents for new writers: Most writers are benefitted by working with an agent, and a few lucky new writers have their first books put up for auction and/or sold to production companies because they have an agent who really believes in them. (Those kinds of deals don't happen without agents.) Plus, many houses don't accept unagented submissions, although Silhouette and Luna both do. As for what type of agent you want, that would depend on what you write and what kind of books/writers the agent represents.

Shelia, the number of hands on a manuscript, for Silhouette and Luna, depends on who is buying the project and for what line or imprint. It could be as few as one editor and as many as half a dozen. Each project has its own timetable as well. Decisions can be made in days, weeks, and--most common--months.

Stacy Boyd, Editor, Silhouette and LUNA Books said...


If you've been waiting 3-4 months on a response for a query, definitely follow-up. At least for Silhouette and Luna, query responses should be a month or less. Your letter may have gotten lost in the mail.

Women's lit vs. multi-cultural: Defining the marketing niche for your book is difficult for many writers; I get questions about 'what is my book' at every conference I attend. Most of the time, once a project is purchased by a publishing house, the marketing and editorial teams will decide how best to market the book. That said, you don't want to send women's lit to a publisher who doesn't do that kind of thing. If you honestly think your projects could fit either multi-cultural or women's lit, then target both kinds of publishers with your submissions. (Be sure to follow publisher guidelines about multiple submissions and tell the publisher about any multiple submissions in your query/cover letter.)

Anonymous said...

Question to the panel:

As editors, what are you looking for? What are the hot genre's of today? And if a certain book is not what in that genre, would you still take a look at it? I am finding after querying many agents, that they are looking for "whats hot now?" instead of "the diamond in the ruff", or "what could be hot tomorrow, if given the chance." The Suspense/thriller field for AA's is something i would like to see more of, and it is also the genre that i love to write, where should i shop my novels, because even though there is some romance, they are not necessarily romantic suspense?


Anonymous said...

Dear All:
I would feel free to drop the editor a line to ask about the status of your submission if three months have gone by without a word. In the note, I would also state that you will send it off to others if you don't hear word back after four weeks, after all you've given the publisher time and notification of your intentions.

Dorchester is happy to look at published authors' work with or without an agent.

At the moment, Dorchester is looking for titles that are strong on romance. General market romantic suspense will not fit our present program.

Monica Harris

Anonymous said...

Hi, Meri -
I'm Charlene Keel, publisher/editor of
www.tantalizingtales.com, and I'm in
the process of signing an author of a self-published book. What interested
me first was the story and the setting. I was also intrigued by the
fact that she had the gumption to put it into print herself. As you know,
the print market is highly competitive, moreso than the e-books market (which is also pretty competitive). So that author got my attention by getting it done herself. By having her book in print, she was able to get reviews, which are important. But I'll take a look at any tale that seems tantalizing. Hope that answers your question. Please feel free to submit your work to us.
Charlene Keel

Anonymous said...

Good Morning, LaShaunda -
While a letterhead may be attractive, I'm more interested in what the letter says and how it's written (which is a clue as to how the author expresses herself).

Re: Query and First Chapter - only if the submission guidelines ask for a first chapter. Remember, editors get dozens (sometimes hundreds) of submissions and besides, they know what kinds of stories they're looking for. If the query describes a book that she's not looking for, it's unlikely that that unasked for first chapter will be read. Always follow the submission guidelines. They exist for a reason, and going by the rules shows your respect for the publisher.

As for getting your book professionally edited, it would depend on how you (honestly) judge your own attributes and limitations. If you feel you're weak in spelling, punctuation and grammar, then by all means you should have someone with those skills take a look at your work (without spending a fortune to do so). As for story and character development, I'd advise having a critique partner or a friend or relative you trust to be completely honest (but not too brutal) read your work before you submit. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Tray:
You probably already know that it's very difficult for a new, unpublished writer to get an established agent who already has roster of published authors. I certainly don't believe that agents who represent new writers are not worth their salt. I mean, we all have to start somewhere. If you can sign a contract with an agent for no more than two years, and if that contract doesn't prevent you from submitting your work yourself to publishers, I'd say - go for it! And always remember, an agent (no matter how big or small) works for you, and not the other way around. You should be able to ask your agent to submit you work to your own Desirable Submit List. And you should be able to get regular updates from your agent about what's happening with your book.

Stephanie Casher said...

For Monica Harris:

I've completed a ms which definitely fits into the multicultural romance genre, and was interested in submitting to Dorchester's new line... But it is the middle book in a 3-part series, and the prequel is definitely NOT a romance (ethnic chick-lit, hero and heroine don't end up together), and the sequel is more along the lines of AA women's fiction. Since you are interested primarily in romance, would you consider a project like this, or should I not be submitting to romance editors?? And is this the kind of info you would like outlined in a query letter?

Thanks in advance for your time :-) I have a major case of genre-angst and all this information is so helpful!

Stephanie (#144)

Anonymous said...

Ms Thomas,

You said that Dafina accepts unsolicited submissions. What type of books are you looking for, and are you open to anything? If so, do you prefer someone query you first?

Stephanie Casher said...

For Karen Thomas:

VERY Excited to hear you are accepting unagented submissions! On the Kensington site, it says you aren't... Piggy-backing on Diane's question, can you direct me to where I can find submission guidelines or an address to send a query??

Stephanie (#144)

Stephanie Casher said...

Question to All:

What is the etiquette on multiple submissions? I'm new to the game, so bear with me, I'm still in my learning curve :-) I've been reading the rule "No multiple submissions" as "no multiple submission of MANUSCRIPTS." But does this mean I shouldn't be querying multiple publishers at the same time as well?

Stephanie (#144)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sheila -
At tantalizingtales.com, we only launched a month ago, so the decision-making process here is currently much faster than at some of the more established houses. A submission passes through one pair of hands (mine) unless it's for our Gay/Lesbian category, and then it would be read by F.H. Craig and myself. The turnaround time at present is about a month but that could change because already we're getting lots of submissions. But we have a big bookstore to fill, so we welcome any and all submissions, and we're interested in fiction and non-fiction.
And certainly, if you haven't heard back within 90 days, you should contact the publisher to see what's happening. Regarding the niche in which your book fits - of course the author should have an idea which category to target, but it's more important to tell a good story. If it seems a book fits more into one than the other, or equally into more than one category - but it's a good story and well written - submit it and let the editor advise you as to where it will best fit. We'd be delighted to take a look at your trilogy. Best of luck with it.

Anonymous said...


The hot genres are always changing. Right now, I'm hearing a lot about paranormal romance and romantic suspense. But someone has to write the stories that will be hot tomorrow. Maybe that could be the kind of story you write. Just remember, the most important thing about any manuscript is that it is a good story, well told. As for where to shop your story, Harlequin has just purchased BET Books and, with the help of that group, they are starting a new AA imprint, Kimani Press, which launches in July 2006. Right now, Kimani's focus is romance, but I know they are open to other types of well written stories. Feel free to query me or Mavis Allen, the senior editor for Kimani, at the NY office contact address on our website, eharlequin.com.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Stacy, i would love to query you and I am excited about the new imprint as well.


Unknown said...

Stacy Boyd -

How do submissions work within Harlequin? I'm contracted with M&B (MX), but have novels targeted at other lines (Blaze, NEXT, Desire). Are M&B, HQ, and Silhouette treated as separate publishers?

How often does an editor tell an author - you've got the wrong line. e.g. this is a Desire not an MX, or a SIM, not an Intrigue?

Thanks -

Jenna Agent 08

Stephanie Casher said...

For Stacy Boyd:

Hi, I actually queried Mavis Allen earlier this month, before the news of the BET acquisition broke. I'm wondering, with all the changes going on over there, should I allow more time for a response, or is it still reasonable to expect a reply in 1-2 months?

Stephanie (#144)

Unknown said...

Monica Harris (and others) -

What is the length for trade paperbacks? I've heard everywhere from 75K to 300K. Do tighter books work better as trade? Or are longer books more the norm?

Jenna (08)

Leann Writes said...

Thank you for answering my questions--it is greatly appreciated
--Leann 134

Anonymous said...


In some ways, Mills and Boon, Harlequin, and Silhouette are treated as separate publishers, but there is quite a bit of overlap between offices and between editors. (For example, I work out of the NY office, but I have several writers who write for the UK programs.) If you are already working with an editor for M&B, Harlequin or Silhouette, it's best to talk to your editor about other projects you'd like to submit. Sometimes the editor is willing to take a look at projects and pass them to other offices for you, and sometimes she prefers to have you submit directly to the other line. It's relatively common for an author to submit projects for one line that actually end up contracted for another line; if an editor likes a project, she will try to find a home for it.

Anonymous said...


For a query, it is still reasonable to expect a response within 1-2 months, even with the changes to BET and Kimani.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Diane69. Concerning hot genres--Steeple Hill (an imprint of Harlequin) publishes to the Christian market, so we have a slightly different take on what's "hot" now. We're interested in romantic suspense and cozy mysteries, and would love to see some romances of women in the "sandwich" generation (stuck taking care of their parents AND kids) or romances of people serving in the military.

Shelia said...


Thank you all for your detail responses. It helps to understand the whole process when submitting.
I appreciate it.

Shelia (Badge#16)

Anonymous said...

To all,

Thank you. This has been the first time i've ever had a chance to actually chat with publishers, editors and the like and we as authors appreciate your honesty and advice with regards to publishing. I will certainly keep these in my "to do" notes. Thanks again!

Krista, thanks for the heads up!


Anonymous said...

Dear all:
I'm looking for manuscripts that are 75,000-100,000 words long. If a novel can read like a single title (even if it's part of a series) I'd be interested in seeing it. Please feel free to send materials to me via Dorchester.
Monica Harris

Anonymous said...

Regarding what will be the hot genre down the road a ways, I think it's anybody's guess (granted, some guesses are more educated or "in the know" than others). What we want at tantalizingtales.com are good stories, and we're looking for stories in every category. While our current inventory is heavy with erotica (or romantica) targeted at women, we're interested in any tale (or in non-fiction) that can be tantalizing to the brain or to the body. We're especially seeking African American romances/mysteries/erotica and vampire romances. In non-fiction, how-to advice on relationships, sexuality and wedding planning would be of interest to us. This has been fun and edifying and I want to thank Shades of Romance for having me on the panel. Keep on writing, everyone and best of luck!
Charlene Keel

LaShaunda said...

Hi Charlene,

I'm curious why you chose to publish ebooks instead of print?

Thanks for being here.

LaShaunda - OO

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