Monday, September 28, 2009

Interview With Susan Litman, Editor, Harlequin

What is your background?
I came to Harlequin/Silhouette after spending several years working in film development in New York. I began working as an Assistant Editor for the Intimate Moments line, and have since become the Editor for Special Edition, acquiring for multiple series.

Is there any type of story you're hoping to find but not seeing in your submissions?
Just a very good story, well-told. I’m looking for something to engage me from the first page onward – solid storytelling, good character development and dialogue.

How often do you ask for manuscripts from contests?
Pretty often, and if I see more than one thing I like, I’ll ask for multiple projects.

How often do you select manuscripts from the "slush pile?
If by “select” you mean “buy,” sometimes. In fact, I bought a new author for Special Edition just a couple of weeks ago from the slush pile! Her name is Abigail Strom and we hope to publish her book sometime in 2010.

While reading a manuscript, how long does it usually take before you know whether or not you want to request the full or reject? Why?
That’s a hard question to answer. Usually when something works, you can tell right away, often from the first page or two. But I can often tell within the first couple of chapters if I’m going to request the complete or not. If the story and voice are not grabbing my attention, it’s not going to work.

What are some errors that new authors make?
Too often I see writers trying to jump on the latest trned because they think it will get them published faster. I’m not saying that someone who usually favors sweet romances couldn’t write a gritty suspense thriller – many people can write across genres very successfully! But jumping on a bandwagon just to get published rarely works, if ever, and it’s never the best way to show your talent. Write what you love – show yourself in your best light - and in time it will fall into the hands of the right agent or editor.

If you had to give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?
Unfortunately, rejection is a necessary part of this process. But if you can take a rejection and make it work for you – learn from it and figure out how to use the comments to improve your future projects – you’ll be ahead of the game.

Have you ever become star-struck when meeting an author? If so, who?
Absolutely! Daniel Silva and Harlan Coben are two of my favorite authors, and while I’ve met them both several times, I’m ALWAYS star-struck. I think the excitement of meeting someone whose work you love never goes away.

The Linda Howard Award of Excellence is taking entries now. Click here.


Misty Wright said...

Loved this interview! Thanks for sharing!

Christine said...

Great interview. Very helpful to writers.