Friday, August 28, 2009

Meet The Editor

Meet our panel of editors
Monica Harris - Dorchester , Deborah Schumaker - Genesis Press, Kymberlyn A. Reed - Parker Publishing, Stacy Boyd - Harlequin, Diana Ventimiglia - Harlequin, Joylynn Jossel - Urban Christian


Stacy Boyd said...

Good morning, everyone. Just stopping by to see if the discussion has begun.

I've been with Harlequin since 2001, working on both series and single title. Right now, I spend most of my time working on myriad projects assigned to the Feature and Custom Publishing department, especially the Harlequin NASCAR line. I also selectively acquire across all of HQ's lines and imprints.

Looking forward to discussing the business of publishing with all of you!

Unknown said...


Just checking in with the discussion. I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone!

A little about me...I started working for Harlequin in 2005. I am the Associate Editor for Desire. Although I mainly acquire for contemporary romances, I also work with Romantic Suspense and Historicals.


Joylynn Jossel said...

Good morning readers, future authors and fellow editors. I'm excited to share both my professional and personal experience as an editor with Urban Christian, and imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp. I've been with Urban Christian since its inception January 2006. The first books on the line were launched January 2007. Since then I have grown to realize that my work with Urban Christian is more than just that; work. It is truly a ministry.

Stephanie McKenny said...

When you are reviewing manuscripts, what are some of the key things you look for in the author's writing? Do you require more showing or telling when it comes to novel writing?

Stacy Boyd said...


My two favorite things to find when reviewing a new manuscript are a distinctive voice and an opening that grabs me and won't let go. These aren't the only necessities, but they go a long way in making a manuscript stand out.

As for showing vs. telling, you need a balanced combination to make a story flow.

Deborah Schumaker said...

Hi, my name is Deborah Schumaker and I am the executive editor of Genesis Press and am also a published author. My book, The Air Between Us, came out in hardcover from HarperCollins last year and in paperback this year. I think being an author helps me in understanding the particular needs of my own authors at Genesis. Genesis Publishes mainly contemporary romances but we are now developing a new fiction imprint. I look forward to discussing the publishing business with you all.

Unknown said...

Hello everyone!

I have a plethora of questions but I'll just start with a few first.

How do you edit if you are not interested in what you're reading? And vice-versa, if you're supposed to be editing and you have and intrest for what you're reading, how does it comprehend your work?

Also, do you have a relationship with the clients you are editing for?

LaShaunda said...

I write romance (contemporary and historical ), however I don’t bring the readers into the bedroom. Is there a market for books like this that aren’t inspirational or Christian?

They used to be called sweet romances.

If so, is there a line for them and can you recommend some authors to read for research.

LaShaunda said...

Welcome to our panel. I appreciate you spending the day with us and answering questions.

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...

Good morning from the West Coast!

I'm Kymberlyn Reed and I am the Acquisitions Editor for Parker Publishing.

I'm proud to say that we've been, along with other smaller publishers, at the forefront of the growing interracial romance market. It's a market that's always been close to my heart in more ways than one--and I love what I do.

I've got several interesting projects planned for 2010, including serving the YA multicultural market through or new MOXIE line of books.

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...


Great question.

I've been a lifelong read (still am) and one of the things I look for is an authentic voice. One that writes for the passion and not necessarily the money. I look for uniqueness--one reason I LOVE science-fiction and fantasy stories and am actively pursuing more of those. I look for characters that aren't carboard cutouts and are diverse in interests. Basically, anything that is a fresh take on old ideas, that's what gets me to look at a query or manuscript.

Sean D. Young said...

Good morning to everyone.
I'm excited to be here. I'm looking forward to this discussion. I'm curious about so many things, but the first question is to Kymberlyn Reed.
Ms. Reed, what are you looking for in a Young Adult novel?

Stacy Boyd said...


There are quite a few opportunities for "sweet" romance at Harlequin. The NASCAR line has no explicit sex on the page, and Harlequin Romance out of the UK office also keeps the sex behind closed doors.

Some of my favorite authors who have done this well (full disclosure, I've worked with most of them): Jackie Braun, Nancy Warren, Jean Brashear, Teresa Southwick and Cara Colter.

Sean D. Young said...

Are there restrictions on authors from the US writing for the Harlequin Romance Line in the UK?

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...

Hello Sean.

Honestly? Give me diversity. I know that teens deal with serious issues, but not every YA book should be about struggle. It's quite depressing to go Borders or Barnes and Noble and see a whole slew of paranormal YA novels without teens of colour as characters.

Having been a life-long Storm (of the X-Men) fan, I'd love to see teens possession super-powers. Since the MOXIE imprint is geared towards multicultural teen girls, it's vitally important for me to depict girls in a heroic and powerful light. I have two neices and sometimes I'm appalled at what passes for "role models" for our girls.

mhm said...

Hello all. My name is Monica Harris and I am acquiring books for Dorchester's African American romance list. For over twenty years, I've been helping writers present their best work. I always enjoy seeing the writer's unique creativity in their novels.
I am happy to participate in this conference and answer any questions.

Sean D. Young said...

Ms. Reed,

Thanks so much for your response. It really gives me a better perspective.

I have teen boys and I do agree with you about the "Role Models" of today.

LaShaunda said...

Hi Kym,

Do you have guidelines for the YA and Moxie line?

Stacy Boyd said...


For me, editing is a problem-solving process. So while really enjoyable writing is fun to work on, every manuscript presents its own challenges.

In general, I consider myself the first reader. My confusion or boredom means other readers may feel the same, and it is my job as editor to note--as specifically as possible--how a story can be stronger.

Luckily, I'm pretty good at turning my "editor brain" off when I'm reading for pleasure. (Though not always!)

LaShaunda said...

Thank you Stacy,

This is good to know. I will check these ladies out.

Stacy Boyd said...


There are no restrictions on US authors writing for Harlequin lines out of the UK. You can find writing and submission guidelines for all of our lines at

Sean D. Young said...

Thanks Stacy.
Appreciate the information.

Deborah Schumaker said...

Since I am pretty much in charge of acquiring for Genesis, I have generally liked something in every manuscript we've put out. It doesn't have to be personal, per se; but there is always something--the writing, an original story or an original way of telling a story. This means I'm really pulling for those authors. I think they have something interesting to say. And in this sense we do develop a strong relationship

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...

Thanks for your question.

To add a little something, I'm around a lot of young skateboarders of both genders, most of whom are black or latino. I'd love to see YA books featuring characters who don't fit the stereotypical mould. Also, having attended Anime Expo and ComicCon (though not this year), kids of color are not just a rarity and again, it's time for the YA marlet to better reflect our diversity of interests as well as thought.

PatriciaW said...

Hello Stacy, Diana, Joylynn, Deborah and Kimberlynn.

1. What advice would you give to unpublished novelists in terms of knowing when to seek publication, and possible steps they might take to present their best possible product?

2. How has the economic downturn affected your decision-making as far as buying manuscripts, or even requested partial/fulls for consideration?

3. What characteristics make for a good author-editor relationship?

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...


Here are the submissions guidelines for our MOXIE imprint, along with the link:

"MOXIE is Parker Publishing’s multi-ethnic, multi-faceted YA imprint. As the name suggests, these are stories that feature strong, resourceful young heroines in a variety of genres, from contemporary to science-fiction and fantasy. Crossing all ethnic and social boundaries these stories will speak authentically to the realities of young women from all walks of life. MOXIE won’t shy away from controversial subjects relevant to the lives of today’s young women, but it won’t be preachy. The MOXIE heroine surmounts all obstacles in her path, and learns lessons from each. MOXIE heroines are the antithesis of unrealistically pretty and shallow characters that have been popularized in much of YA fiction.

Here's what I'm looking for:

1) Multi-cultural heroines of all shapes and shades who are strong and resourceful

2) Especially seeking High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy/paranormal, historical (especially ancient history) and Alternate Universe stories.

3) No unnecessary violence or language

4)Contemporary social issues handled age-appropriately (no Gossip Girl-type stories)

5) Solutions-oriented stories, realistic solutions

Makasha Dorsey said...

I have a bag full of questions but I will only ask two:

1. Outside of quality writing, what is the single most important part of a manuscript that makes you want to aquire it?

2. What is the biggest mistake authors make when sending in a query or proposal?

Thank you for taking the time to share with us.


Diamond McKenzie said...

Questions for all editors:

How important is a web presence for an author prior to you making a buying decision?

If you read a manuscript you think would fit better under another imprint, do you share it with an editor in another department?

Last question (smile): What type of manuscripts are you specifically looking for now ?

Stacy Boyd said...


Writing your best work is the first priority, but another tip I've learned from the authors I've worked with is to find a trusted reader or two (friends or critique partners). This can help you with problems you might have missed before you send out the manuscript for submission.

The economic downturn has affected the kinds of deals we can make, but it hasn't affected our desire to see quality stories come across our desks. My requests for full or partial manuscripts hasn't changed.

Finally, the best author-editor relationships I've had are the ones where both parties are professional, punctual, flexible about industry changes and respectful of the hard work that goes in to both writing and editing. A sense of humor also helps.

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...


My biggest piece of advice--DON'T let your friends or family members critique your manuscript (LOL). Seriously though, unless you have friends or relatives who are willing to tell you the brutal truth (and few of us do), their eyes will definitely be biased, which does you no good as a writer. You have to know how to deal with someone who is willing to be honest and tell you not only what's GOOD about your mansucript, but what's BAD about it and how you can fix it.

Another very important piece of advice is to make certain you read and understand the submission guidelines for every publishers imprint. Personally speaking, nothing drives me more nuts as an A.E. than someone who sends me something that isn't what our publishing company is about. For instance, we at Parker made the decision a long time ago not to publish "thug lit" and we've said as much in our guidelines (and if you happen to catch me in various and sundry threads, you'd know my aversion to it). Still, people send me queries and full MS featuring "D'launay the stripper and her drug dealer boyfriend Taikwando".

Kayenne said...

Hi all:

As editors, do you ever offer book deals based on book proposals or do you require the authors to turn in the entire manuscripts before making a buying decision?

Joylynn Jossel said...

Hi, Diamond

I receive manuscripts from a great deal of first time authors, so I truly don't expect them to have an online presence. But when I receive submissions from authors who already have published works printed, I expect that they at least have a website. If not a website, then a myspace page. Writing the book is only part of the author's duties. Marketing and promoting is another; some would say the most important. You can write a great book, but what good is it if no one knows about it?

Although one might think "Urban Christian" speaks for itself, I still receive street lit submissions as well as some saucy chick lit here and there. When that occurs, I do refer the author to other imprints. Sometimes I've even taken the liberty of forwarding the manuscripts myself.
I always inform the author as well as refer them back to Urban Christian's original guidelines as well ( so that they will know exactly what it is I'm looking for in a manuscript.

Sean D. Young said...

It's me again. LOL
This question is for all editors.
How important is having an agent? I've found in different forums and discussions that people say you can't get anywhere without one. I'd just like to know your take on since you deal with agented and non-agented writers.

Joylynn Jossel said...


I've only made an offer based upon a proposal if the author was well established with a reading fan base. I've received wonderful proposals from authors which included the first few chapters of their manuscript, only to find that what I thought was going to be a great story ended up fizzing down as the book went on.

Diamond McKenzie said...

Thanks Joylynn. I don't have a website yet but I will make sure I create a myspace page.

Joylynn Jossel said...


Initially Urban Christian accepted submissions from both authors with agents and without, but just last year we changed our guidelines to accept submissions through agents only. I have found that this truly has an impact on the quality of work that now comes in. Having that middle man work with the author and help them tighten it up before I ever see it really makes a world of difference.

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...

To all prospective authors:

Repeat after me: "THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND..."

Nowhere in this history of publishing has it ever been possible to reach readers directly than through the use of blogs. Readers are dying to know not just about your book, but about YOU. Blogs help form a deeper between an author and the readers.

It's like having the power to make your own destiny, and there's something pretty heady about that, I think.

maxxgrl said...

great advice! thanks

Joylynn Jossel said...


This is a reply to your question earlier. I love love love showing in a novel. I love to be able to see the characters, the rooms they are in, the expressions on their faces, the gestures they are making. I love to hear the tone of their voice, the smell of the cologne they are wearing, etc... When I'm reading a book, I like to feel as though I'm watching a movie. Who doesn't love to hear a good story? But isn't it so much better when you are there first hand to see it yourself?

Diamond McKenzie said...

Kymberlyn I will definitely keep that in mind "the internet is my friend." :) I've looked at the marketing tips today and it seems there's no way around the internet.

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...

To all, On agents:

Having an agent doesn't make your job as a writer any easier. I totally understand the job agents have, which is looking out for their clients' best interests. However I sometimes wonder how many wonderful stories ended up languishing in a drawer or a hard drive because an agent deemed it "unsaleable". Believe me, I've received letters from prospective writers in the I/R genre who dealt with that kind of rejection in the past.

Also, receiving manuscripts from unagented writers is like discovering diamonds in the rough. Some writers have amazing potential and one of the best parts of being a smaller company is the ability to nurture and delvelop that latent talent.

Writing is a creative endeavor, true, but it is also a business. The best advice about agents comes from Oprah: "make sure YOU sign the checks". In other words, make sure YOU know the business aspect of writing and don't be afraid to ask your agent questions. There are a lot of great books and online resources for writers on contracts and publishing, most of them published by the Writers Digest company.

Amelia said...

Ms. Reed,

Does Moxie have any YA novels in print on the market now?

It's always good to get a tangible feel of what's out there.

Thanks. =)

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...


Don't fear the internet, really. It's a wonderful place, and in fact I met my "sister" and writing partner Anne (who's German by the way) through the 'net.

Knowledge is power, and knowing how to utilize the net gives you the power to get your book(s) into a reader's hands. And it's creative too. The more creative and inviting your website/blog is, the more likely readers and other interested parties are to visit it. Music is always a great way to make a blog/site 'user-friendly'. And people just LOVE contests, so make sure to include one every so often with special prizes such as autograph bookmarks, copies of new books, etc.

Which takes me to...

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...


Readers LOVE knick-nacks from their favorite or potentially-favorite authors. Bookmarks, pens, bookplates--these are all relatively inexpensive marketing tools that readers will use and remember. Think of them as calling cards.

I remember my first RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention and there was this entire section of the hotel lined from one end to the other with author freebies, and some of them were pretty elaborate. Let's just say that my bags ranneth over and I had to pay the overage fee, LOL.

Amelia said...

Hi, again

I have another question that is geared towards agents, but perhaps one of you editors may be able to answer my question.

Question: What do you do when an agent doesn't respond to your query letter in the given amount of time that they stated on their submission guidelines? Is it appropriate to send them a follow-up emal?


Deborah Schumaker said...

Generally, Genesis wants to see a synopsis and the first three chapters before making any kind of decision. I believe it is vital that an author grab the reader's attention at the very beginning. Of course the editor can always work with the author if the editor thinks there's great potential in the overall project and the middle is sagging, or something like that, but the beginning must be great. It has to capture the editor's attention or else it's not going to capture the reader's attention. For me that's a must.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Tia

Due to the fact that I'm actually the editor who chooses the submissions, I'm interested in everything I edit. As a matter of fact, it's even more engaging editing the manuscript then it was just reviewing it for publication. I really get to delve in and compliment the author's story with my own suggestions that might ehance the story even more.

As for having a relationship with my clients; my clients are the authors on my line. I'd like to think that I have a great relationship with them. I'm sure most would agree that the editor/author relationship at Urban Christian is powerful beyond most.

Tyora Moody said...

I write romantic suspense and mystery under the Christian Fiction genre. There was a recent discussion about there not being that many African American authors published in the area of suspense or mystery (even on the mainstream side).

Do you think that will change? Do readers just prefer Romance or Women's Fiction? I've always been a big suspense reader.

Sean D. Young said...

Ms. Reed,
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I was one of those authors that has felt that kind of rejection. It's wonderful to hear your opinion on this topic. I wondered if there were editors out there that wouldn't mind nuturing an author with potential.

I think we all know that writing is hard work, but I think it's worth it. It takes alot to succeed in this business and people like LaShaunda help bring author, agents, editors and others together is so helpful and I believe necessary.

I think all the questions and answers so far has given me a renewed hope.
Thanks to everyone.

Deborah Schumaker said...

I think one of the most important things is to not give up. I am now working with an author who submitted more than 6--!!!--manuscripts to me--all of which I rejected. His seventh manuscript was fantastic. I loved it from the very first line. Now I've got him under contract for four other novels and I love all of them. He just kept plugging until he made it--and I'm so glad he did make it. I think he is, too.

mharris said...

I think there will always be writers and readers of suspense and mystery but publishers think that present market is small. Until there is a breakout author to make sales see a difference, is will be a hard nut to crack. Perhaps you could be that author . . .

Joylynn Jossel said...

Hi, Makasha

For me, the biggest mistake an author can make when sending a query or proposal is not listing any contact information. Yes, believe it or not, I have received submissions with no author contact information. I have received submission chapters inside an expensive folder with wonderful press information-but no author contact information to go along with it. Once I got lucky and found a website, but when I went to the website, there was no contact icon. Go figure.

I've since learned to keep all envelopes after logging in the submissions.

As far as what single part of a manuscript makes me want to aquire it; for me, there is no one single thing, but a combination of things. For example, story development (both plot and characters) the actual storyline itself (original/unique), and I'm a stickler for a timeline. I have to know over what period of time a story is taking place. I don't want for a story to open with the main character being six months pregnant, and six months after that she's still pregnant. So a clear timeline is something that stands out for me.

Sean D. Young said...

Ms. Schumaker,

What a wonderful accomplishment for this author you mentioned. I applauded his determination.

Moving forward is the key. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...


My advise is to write your passion first! I personally LOVE mystery and suspense novels and would love to see more authors of color in that genre as well. One of the great things about small publishers and the internet is that authors have the chance to write what really MOVES them, rather than what someone says is the "genre du jour".

Which leads me to my soapbox...

As writers and publishers, I think we have a singular responsibility to showcase our loves and talents in as wide a variety of genres as possible. I want to see more black writers in the sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction/paranormal/mystery genres. To borrow from Star Trek, I want to see more authors and readers boldly go where we've never been before (or told that we didn't want to go).

bettye griffin said...

I hope I'm not too late; I know it's 4:30 in the East.

Monica, is it my imagination or have I seen very little A-A romance come out of Dorchester? If so, are you not getting what you're looking for? And what is it you're looking for?

Unknown said...

Thank you for responding, appreciate it!

Deborah Schumaker said...

I think you should write what you love reading. Although we do romances at Genesis many of these have an underlying element of suspene or include a strong mystery that begs to be solved. I'm seeing this more and more. Genres can overlap and there are certainly a number of authors who do a very good job with romantic suspense.

Joylynn Jossel said...

Hi, Amelia

I know your question was geared more toward agents, but here goes from an editor's perspective. When an author contacts me prior to the time lasping, I get this little tinge (I'm sure some other editor's can relate). When an author contacts me after the time lasps, I still get a tinge (LOL). Both editors and agents have piles of submissions they must read, so sometimes we can get a little behind on getting through submissions. But all jokes aside, I actually appreciate the little reminder from an author who I have failed to get back to timely. In one instance I learned that I had never even received the author's submission at all. As an editor, ultimately, if I'm going to set time schedules for my authors to meet, then I want to set an example by meeting the ones set for myself. What better way to start off a future editor/author relationship?

Kymberlyn Reed (aka The Fountain Pen Diva) said...

I'm going to second what Deborah Schumaker said, which is about not giving up. Somewhere out there is the perfect home for your novel and nowadays there are a LOT of choices--in the e-book, small press and traditional print markets.

There are many reasons why a manuscript gets rejected, and none of them are personal (at least they shouldn't be in the "I hate you because you picked on me in high school" aspect).

More often than not, we publishers receive a torrent of one type of genre and not enough of another. Also scheduling constraints allow us to publish a certain number of titles a year. Not adhering to publisher's submission guidelines is definitely another, as well as a sloppy manuscript with glaring spelling and/or grammatical errors.

I freely admit that I am slow when it comes to submissions and queries. The reason for that is quite simple: Each manuscript deserves my undivided attention and as much care as the writer had when crafting it. I don't like to make snap judgments and there are times I may sight-read a query or MS and not "feel it" and then a few days later it begins to work for me.

Sean D. Young said...


I'm so glad you asked the question about contacting agent/editor after time has lapsed.

I know in my case I don't want to seem like a pest, but neither do I want to do nothing and possibly find out way later that the agent/editor never received my submission.

Thanks for your response Joylynn.

Deborah Schumaker said...

I have to leave now but have really, really enjoyed being part of this panel. Good luck to all of you!

Amelia said...

Hi, Sean

Lol...I guess all authors have experienced the "should I or shouldn't I" send a little reminder to an agent. I know I don't want to piss them off and they immediately toss my query into the garbage. ("Well, that's one down...five thousand more to go." LOL )

Whew! I appreciate the feedback, Ms. Jossel.

By the way, I even get a little nervous when I'm addressing agents and editors. Should I go by first name basis?---umm...maybe not. ?

Thank you! =)

Lyn Cote said...

Hi Joylynn,
I am multi-published in inspirational romance and to help other writers,
I do an update every year on houses that publish inspirational romance or fiction.

I have listed your house thus:

Urban Christian (Urban Christian did not reply to 2009 request so the info may have changed.)
P.O. Box 128
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-0128
African-American inspirational fiction

I have done this update every year since 1997. Is the information correct?
If you like, drop by my site and see the extensive list of houses that contribute every year.

Anonymous said...

This may seem like an odd question but what is the main difference between an agent and an editor?

I know that agents have connections, but the editor has connections directly with the publisher they work for. Isn't that right? If an editor accepts your work, do you still need an agent in order for the publisher to take your work?

I say that because I know some bigger publishers won't even look at your work unless you have an agent. At least, that has been my experience.

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