Beth Adams, Senior Editor with Howard Books, will be presenting: “Top 10 Reasons Your Manuscript was Rejected” at NCWA’s Renewal Conference. Click conference button on right-hand sidebar for details. NCWA’s Kirk Kraft interviewed Beth and shares their conversation:
From Kirk: Beth is a senior editor at Howard Books, focusing mostly on fiction. Previous she worked at Guideposts and Random House, and has degrees from Princeton and New York University. She works out of the main Simon and Schuster office in New York.
1. What’s been the most rewarding experience in your editing career?
Oh goodness. Every book is a special experience in some way. It’s so satisfying to see a project go from a raw manuscript to a finished book. But beyond that, I can’t pick. This one is too hard!
2. What keeps you engaged with a story? What does “story” mean to you in the big picture?
I stay engaged in a story when there’s a compelling question that drives the story—when there’s something I need to know. I’ll keep reading to find out what happens. You can do this with any genre, even ones where there’s a pretty standard plot formula.
3. What are two of your all-time favorite books, fiction or non-fiction? Why?
This one is too hard too! I can never pick!
4. What are the primary reasons manuscripts fail to grab an editor’s interest?
Most of the books that cross my desk seem… good enough. Good enough is fine, but I’m looking for a book that stands out. I’m always looking for something that takes the book up a notch, makes it really stand out, that gives us an angle to sell it. Basically, I’m looking for a hook. A book that catches my attention will have that.
5. E-books, POD and e-readers have altered the publishing landscape. How do you envision the publishing realm continuing to change over the next 5-10 years?
I think e-books will continue to become a larger part of the market every year. This creates enormous opportunities for writers and publishers, and I think we will continue to find ways to capitalize on this more and more. I don’t think paper books will be going away anytime soon, but ultimately, readers are going to pick whatever format works best for them, and that’s progress. As long as they’re reading, I’m happy.
6. What one piece of advice would you offer an unpublished writer?
My best advice is to read a lot, and write a lot. I guess that’s technically two pieces of advice, but they’re closely related. Read so you know what else is out there, what you like, what you love, what works, what doesn’t. Read because it broadens your horizons and teaches you things you didn’t know. And it might just change the way you think about writing. And write. Do it a lot. Do it every day. Write things that you want to publish and things that you never think you can get published. The more your write, the better your craft will become, but it only happens through practice.
Kirk Kraft has been gripped by the “Writing Monster”, a husband and father of four attempts raise his children the best way possible while chasing his dream of publishing. Click here to visit his blog. He has been a member of NCWA since 2008.