So my good friend Melanie Larson is an editor with David C. Cook. She’s one of those people who can always make you smile. She’s fun to be around and if you ask her husband, he’ll tell you she makes the best cheese dip ever. 🙂 She’s also a tremendously good editor. Here are her thoughts on publishing:
1. What made you want to work in book publishing?
I’ve always devoured books the way some people devour desserts (though I do that, too). I majored in journalism (most editors have English majors) and assumed I would be a newspaper reporter, even though it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. God orchestrated some events that led to me working an internship in a book publishing program, and I fell in love. Everything about the process fascinated me: the way proposals came in, the roles that agents played, working with real live authors, being able to shape a book that someone would one day buy and read … the whole thing seemed mystical and a little miraculous. I’m over that now, but that’s how I fell in love with it … I still love book publishing, just for different reasons.
2. What do you look for in a good proposal?
Unique and fresh ideas, good writing, and hopefully an author with a platform!
3. What jumps out at you as a bad proposal?
This may sound silly, but any author who compares him/herself to Don Miller or Anne Lamott is a huge red flag, especially because it’s often in a way that doesn’t make sense: “I’d compare my writing to Don Miller, but this is a fiction, and it’s about a woman in India.” What it’s indicative of is a lack of honesty, I think. Ditto that for not filling in the section on comparative titles in a proposal. I hate seeing “I have researched the market, and there is no book like this one out there.” Bull. I don’t believe you, and I don’t believe that you’ve done any research. There are always comparative titles. It’s not a bad thing to compare your book to others, and just honestly tell me what that book is, how it delivers its point, and how your book is different. Also, any proposal that arrives in a fancy binder, or has elaborate packaging/fonts has an air of being unprofessional, and I won’t take it as seriously. Ha, I bet you thought I was going to say, “bad writing,” didn’t you? 🙂
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. I’m kind of a fiction junkie, and a Jane Austen devotee!