Welcome Susan Litman, who came to Harlequin/Silhouette after spending several years working in film development in New York. Susan began her career at Silhouette working as an Assistant Editor for the Intimate Moments line, and has since become the Editor for Special Edition, acquiring for multiple series.
What made you decide to edit fiction?
I love to read, and while I've never met a printed anything I did not like, my preference is fiction. I love to get lost in a good book.
What lines do you acquire for? Who are some of your writers? If they write for more than one line, do you buy/edit them across the board?
I can acquire across all series/imprints, but my focus is Special Edition and Silhouette Romantic Suspense, as the majority of my authors write for those two series. My current list includes Judy Duarte, Crystal Green and Lois Faye Dyer (writing for Special Edition) and Maggie Price and Loreth Anne White (writing for SRS.)
What about a manuscript grabs your attention and makes you consider making an offer?
Good voice, plot and character are obvious - if only it were that simple! J Truthfully, what I look for is storytelling that puts a fresh twist on classic elements. Last year I acquired a wonderful Christmas romance for SSE from a first-time author. The story featured popular themes for the line, but the author put such a unique spin on the conflicts that I felt I was seeing this plot for the first time. I was thrilled to be able to make an offer - and to buy her second book later in the year!
What do you look for in a synopsis, and what length of synopsis do you prefer?
A synopsis should just be an outline of the book and present the story/conflicts as succinctly as possible. I don't really put a page limit on this, though if the author is only submitting a proposal I'd rather see a longer, somewhat more detailed synopsis to give me a better sense of the overall story.
What makes for a great editorial relationship with an author? What doesn't?
For me, the primary element is respect. Writers put themselves into everything they write, and we try to do our best to keep that in mind as we read and comment on the work. (I try to think of the books as children and be as constructive as possible. J) Along those lines, authors should understand that if we reject something or ask for major revisions, it's because we know what works in the current market, and it's our job to help the author shine. Sometimes that requires reworking a manuscript - or coming up with a new one.
What's new or coming over the horizon at Harlequin/Silhouette?
Our non-fiction imprint launched in the fall of 2008, and we have lots of exciting books coming up, including 113 Things to Do by 13 by Brittany and Terri MacLeod. We also published LOVE MATTERS by Delilah earlier in the year. And in August 2009 we'll be launching Harlequin Teen with terrific new books from Gena Showalter and Rachel Vincent. Being a YA reader myself, I can hardly wait!
What advice do you have for seasoned authors in the current publishing climate? If they are published but unagented and want to submit to you, what would you like to see in their submission package?
If I only had a crystal ball . . . the best advice I could give would be to just stay the course and keep writing! And keep reading - stay on top of what's happening in the market, what people are talking about and what they're buying. And no matter what new trend crops up, remember that the most important thing you can do is remain true to your voice and style.
As for submissions, if you're published, you can submit a query letter with a synopsis and the first three chapters of your book. I'd love to find some new authors!
Thanks to Chris Green for inviting Susan to blog with us.