Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lisa: Interview with Simon Pulse Editor Michael del Rosario

1. Authors are always curious about the acquisitions process. Of course we understand it varies from house to house, but could you share with us how the process works at Simon Pulse?

It’s not that exciting really. When a manuscript comes in from an agent to me that I like, I present it to my team who then takes a chance to read it and weigh in. If everyone agrees to move forward, we then have to get the marketing and sales people aboard, so we present the book to them and have them read a bit. And if they’re all aboard, we contact the agent and start negotiations. Boring huh? At least I left out the extremely boring part about paperwork and signatures…..

2. In this extremely competitive market for young adult novels, how much of a say does Marketing have in the acquisitions process? Do they ever put the skids on a book that an editor was really hoping to acquire?

Well as I said in my previous answer, our Marketing team always gets a chance to weigh in on acquisitions. The only situation I could see our marketing team wanting to put the skids on an acquisition would be in a case where they couldn’t actually market the property to its full potential. But being that our editorial team is very clear as to the style and feel of our line of books and as to what our marketing team can and cannot do, I couldn’t see a manuscript of that nature getting far enough in the acquisitions process to even give the Marketing team a chance to weigh in as such. The editorial and marketing teams would have to have complete different interests, which is something I’ve luckily never had to worry about yet.

3. Pulse seems to acquire quite a few series, and we thought it'd be interesting to hear about that. Why so many series lately? And do you think there are certain things about a book's concept that lends itself well to a series?

Actually, Pulse does not acquire as many series as they used to (at least ongoing series that is). A couple of years ago almost every teen property was an ongoing series. And when I started at Pulse the popularity in ongoing series had quieted down and the popularity of trilogies or limited series cropped up. I would compare this change in appeal to that of television. Viewers love an ongoing television show as long as the story stays true to its origins. Once a show begins to regurgitate old stories, or seems to not know where to go next, viewers drop. Why so many series lately? Simple: it’s almost a guaranteed sale if the first book was a success. Look at how many movies end up with sequels. As to what makes a book concept lend itself well to a series, you need a distinct world, and characters you can fall in love with. Your hook needs to be somewhat open-ended. And of course your ending needs to suggest a sequel.

4. A few years ago, YA was hot and the place to be. Today, there are more and more YA books on the shelves. Bookstores are having to expand their YA section. Any thoughts on what this mean for writers of YA? For editors of YA?

For writers, I’d say write your heart out. Write the best you can and write a story you desperately want to write. Because with all the competition out there, writing according to what’s popular or catering to too many people will only make you part of the crowd. Stand out. For editors of YA I think it’s harder on us, because we have the hard task of choosing what to publish. And with so much to choose from nowadays, and with tighter budgets, some amazing work may not get the chance it deserves. We unfortunately are the bearers of that burden.

5. Finally, could you share with our readers what draws you to a manuscript? Can you give us some examples of books you have edited, out now or coming out soon, and what specifically you liked about them when you read them for the first time?

I think this is my favorite question! Not in any particular order, the things that draw me to a manuscript would be: Humor, originality, an authentic voice, quirk, passion, flow, edge, and of course good writing. A manuscript does not need to have all these things, but these are some of the thing that grab my attention.

Two examples of books I edited that either have come out or will be coming out soon would be: Far from You, by Lisa Schroeder (out now!), and Raven, by Allison van Diepen (on sale 2/10/09). With Lisa’s book, it was her second with me so editorially things went smoothly, but what I loved particularly about this novel that was different from her first was the visceral reaction I received from reading about her characters being trapped in a blizzard. I literally had to step out of my office on more than one occasion to fight my own feelings of claustrophobia. The tension was just palpable. In Allison’s case, I had never worked with her editorially before, although she had published two books with Pulse previously. This was also her first venture into writing paranormal fiction, so what fascinated me was her unique twist to a popular genre. Everyone out there was writing a vampire book, and Allison decided to write about immortals. That mixed with her frenetic urban style of fiction just blew me away. Reading about these immortals, their powers, and the lives they lived was just so cool. I couldn’t put the book down.

14 comments:

  1. Thanks for the insight on the editing/acquiring process at Simon Pulse. Lisa's book sounds powerful--must be, if it kicked you out of your office! Allison's book sounds wonderful as well--congratulations to all three of you!

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  2. This is great! Thanks for sharing the insider view. I love that you describe the acquisition process as boring when, to us authors, it is a mysterious, magical, and terrifying process!

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  3. This was a great insight into how the whole process works. I can't wait to read the two novels mentioned- Far from You and Raven. They sound amazing.

    It was also interesting to see what catches an editor's eye.

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  4. Michael, thanks for letting us know what specifically drew you two those manuscripts. I love Simon Pulse's line!

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  5. It's always great to hear about those initial gut reactions to a manuscript and then to get a sense of its journey through the house—thanks for sharing this!

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  6. Bookstores are having to expand their YA section.

    You say that like it's a bad thing, Lisa! :)

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  7. Simon Pulse has some great books out so the editorial process must work well. Thanks for the interview.

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  8. What a great interview. Very informative about what goes on behind the scenes and what attracts you to a book. I loved the comparison of a series to TV and particularly what keeps people hooked.

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  9. Great interview Lisa & Michael! I always wondered how many people were reading the manuscripts before taking them on. And I LOVE Simon Pulse books too!

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  10. Sorry literaticat, I guess it does, doesn't it?

    Yay, the bookstores are having to expand their YA section!!! YA books rule! GO YA!!!

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  11. Nice interview! Simon Pulse is one of my favorite YA lines because of the fearless edgier topics and tone. And I know this going to sound crazy, but I also love the shape of the books. Please do not change a thing. (Other than publishing more.)

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  12. Wonderful interview! I love working with Pulse, and it's really cool to hear how other editors there do things!!

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  13. Lisa - thx again for interview - we got a great response! Oh gotta go I hear my muse calling.

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