BEHIND THE SCENES AT A PUBLISHING HOUSE
Interview with an acquisitions editor
Welcome to Christine Klocek-Lim, who is an acquisitions editor for Evernight Publishing, I am delighted to have you on my blog.
Hi and thank you for having me, Jennifer! I’m delighted to be here.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, how long you have been working in acquisitions and what made you take up this role?
I am from Pennsylvania, USA. I grew up in the northeast part of the state, went to college in Pittsburgh, and now live in the Lehigh Valley (southeast PA). I had a brief foray into New Jersey for a decade when I worked in Manhattan, but Pennsylvania is my first geographical love.
I have been working for Evernight as an acquiring editor since January 2014. I also publish Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, and have worked as an editor, professional writer, proofreader, and technical writer for over twenty years. Here’s a link to my website if you would like to know more: http://christinekloceklim.com
I became an editor for one simple reason: I love to read.
(the best reason! JD)
What is the thing you most enjoy about being an acquisitions editor and what is the most difficult?
The best part about reading submissions is when a story comes across my screen that blows the top of my head off. I recently acquired a young adult novel that was so brilliant I had to read it in small chunks à it was too suspenseful to take in all at once. I love finding stories that transport me into a completely new world.
What is most difficult? When I am reading a great story, with excellent characters, but the mechanical parts of the novel don’t work (grammar errors, too much passive voice, or point of view mistakes). Sometimes it’s the opposite problem: the mechanics are perfect, but there is no suspense or plot. I want to read good stories and I want more than anything to help authors find their voice. At times, though, a novel needs a bit more work before crossing my desk.
What are the top things you look out for when first reading a submission?
The first page is the most important part of any submission! If a story doesn’t draw me in, it’s difficult to keep reading. The story needs to hook me from the very first sentence: long, dull descriptions are the kiss of death for the first paragraph. Start with dialogue or an action sequence.
(very useful advice – thanks! JD)
Most readers like to download a sample of the book before buying. If the beginning of the novel doesn’t intrigue them, they’re not going to buy the story, are they?
If you can say, what has been your favourite book to acquire for Evernight?
I have too many favorites to pick just one, but some recent acquisitions excited me greatly: The Salvation State by Marcus Damanda for Evernight Teen is the young adult novel that blew off the top of my head a few weeks ago. Bombers Moon by Raven McAllan is a fantastic historical set in WWII. These will be published in the next few months. I also had a lot of fun reading the slew of holiday stories Evernight received this year. Last, but not least, I’ve acquired all of the Planet Alpha stories. I love that series!
What are the biggest things that authors get wrong consistently and you have to reject them?
It’s usually a combination of factors: mechanical problems, plot issues, or a lack of character development. Our editors can usually revise any one of these things, but a combination of more than one issue often sends a manuscript back to the author with a revise and resubmit request. The manuscripts I reject generally have taboo material or mechanical issues that are too extensive for repair.
One of the biggest problems is point of view issues: no head hopping, please.
(this was my big mistake on my first novel. I had no idea what head hopping was and am still surprised Siren Publishing accepted it! If we have any aspiring authors reading this – head hopping is changing from one character’s view point to the other back and forth which can be jarring for the reader. It is best to wait to change the viewpoint until a new chapter – or if you have a change of scene, passage of time has moved on or a new character comes into a scene. In this case you will often find this is denoted by asterisks. But don’t do it too often within a chapter! JD)
Are you able to reveal the percentage of books you accept?
Since I’m just one of several acquiring editors, I can’t give you an accurate number for the total submissions Evernight and Evernight Teen accepts.
Do you find it difficult to read a genre you don’t particularly enjoy or does it make it easier as you are not getting carried away in the story?
I have always read across many genres, so it’s rare for me to come across a type of story I don’t enjoy. I find it more difficult to read a manuscript with actual errors than I do different genres.
Have you ever considered writing a story yourself? If so, what genre would you write in?
I have two pen names and have written over forty novels. I write both fiction and poetry using my real name as well (yes, I use three names for my work, because I am crazy). I write across multiple genres: romance, sci-fi, suspense, fantasy, lgbt, and many more.
(I think a practicing author makes a good editor. JD)
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I hope to keep reading submissions and writing more books. This is the career I’ve always wanted, so my goal is to keep reading and writing.
What are your top five tips to authors before submitting stories?
1. Revise your work (don’t submit the first draft of a story).
2. Proofread your manuscript.
3. Be certain that the first page is intriguing.
4. Follow the submission guidelines.
5. And last, but not least, watch your verb tenses. Eighty percent of the submissions I read have verb tense errors. They drive me crazy! ;)
(terrific advice. JD)
Thank you, Christine. It has been fabulous interviewing you. Good luck with your own writing.
If you want to read the other posts in this series, here are the links: