Welcome Michael Homler, an Editor at St. Martin's Press. He acquires in a wide range of areas which include literary fiction, mystery/thrillers, graphic novels, narrative nonfiction and biography. He has worked on such books as the NBCC winning biography James Tiptree Jr. by Julie Phillips, The Fault Tree by Louise Ure, the Edgar-nominated Pyres by Derek Nikitas, The Urban Hermit, by Sam MacDonald, and Don Mattingly's Hitting is Simple by Don Mattingly and Jim Rosenthal.
What made you decide to edit fiction?
I loved reading books and always thought I had a good sense of how to improve structures to both novels and nonfiction narratives.
What kinds of manuscripts do you acquire? Who are some of the writers with whom you work?
I acquire in a range of areas. I do some crime fiction, literary fiction, literary and commercial biography, pop culture, narrative nonfiction, popular science, graphic novels and even memoir. I worked on the Edgar-nominated PYRES by Derek Nikitas, Tracy Daugherty on the forthcoming biography of Donald Barthelme called HIDING MAN, David Oppegaard's THE SUICIDE COLLECTORS, and also Jonathan Maberry's PATIENT ZERO, which comes out in March.
What about a manuscript grabs your attention and makes you consider making an offer?
I like really good writing with a commercial twist. I like books that straddle the line between being the best of everything--from solid writing, good plotting and a unique perspective or hook.
What advice do you have for seasoned authors in the current publishing climate?
Do your homework before you submit. Always get an agent and be professional in whatever course you choose to take to try to get published.
Do you accept unagented submissions from published authors?
I do not accept unagented submissions.
Some editors hate sharks, others hate prologues-is there anything that's an automatic turn-off for you?
This is a hard one to answer. I think it'd probably have to be cliché scenarios that I am expected to enjoy because I've seen them before.
What makes for a great editorial relationship with an author?
When an author is concerned about making his or her work better and that is their first priority and when they go about it with you in a professional manner. I like authors who work hard and who are patient, who understand that everything does not happen immediately but that hard work and persistence pays off.
How do you handle it with an author if there's been a slump in sales?
If the author is talented and is someone we want to continue with we do our best to come up with a new game plan to see if that will help. If nothing is working you have to change something, especially if you really care about the books that you are publishing. But it's not a science or an art. Sometimes it's just luck.
How do feel about authors working with other publishers or in other genres?
It doesn't bother me so long as the author is still continues to meet deadlines and turn in quality material and is not digging into sales of something else they might be working on.
What do you wish authors understood about your job?
That it's a hard job. There's a lot of networking in and out-of house involved and that it's not all sitting at a desk calling the shots. Sometimes it's fighting for things that wouldn't happen unless you fought for them. That's why it's important that authors trust their editor and have a good rapport with them.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Writing is a tough discipline by nature. It's a harder business to break into than you think. It can be even harder, once you have gotten in, to make what you do work. Be patient, be persistent, be polite. It can happen.