Last week at the 30th RWA® National Conference St. Martin's Press (SMP) editors Jennifer Enderlin, Monique Patterson, and Rose Hilliard presented a Publisher Spotlight to talk to authors and answer questions.
Jennifer Enderlin started with the emphatic statement that SMP is very interested in discovering new authors. They focus on an author's career long term by offering multi-book contracts and by promoting the author rather than a line. SMP doesn't have lines (they do have the Minotaur Imprint for Mystery).
Backing up their claim of being interested in new authors, each of the editors reported picking up two or three debuts last year. Because they have no lines, they have no slots to fill, but they are always looking to discover something wonderful.
Jennifer Enderlin urged authors to avoid the trend spiral and to write the book they are born to write. She provided three simple suggestions for new authors:
1) Finish the book – new authors need to demonstrate they can, not only start a great book, but finish and polish it.
2) Get an agent – SMP does not require that authors have agents, but they strongly recommended it.
3) Enter contests – they think this is a great way to get editorial attention.
Monique Patterson said that, for her, the most important thing she looks for in a submission is voice. She urged writers to write their voice to the fullest—don't hold back.
Rose Hilliard said she looks for a high concept story, something that can be communicated in one or two sentences and that has a broad appeal. Once she has that, then she looks for a compelling voice.
While all SMP romance editors acquire all subgenres, Rose and Monique expressed more interest in YA, and Monique expressed more interest in romantic comedy and contemporary romance. All three editors said there is nothing in the romance genre they would NOT consider.
If you are unagented, SMP will accept your submission, but be forewarned you will get a much slower response than you would get as an agented author.
• Jenifer Enderlin prefers to see a paper query with the first ten pages of your manuscript.
• Monique Patterson prefers paper submissions and wants to see a synopsis and three chapters.
• Rose Hilliard said that while she will normally look at queries, she is currently way behind and doesn't want to see unagented submissions for at least the next six months.
The editors also said that SMP is all about editorial taste, they don't acquire by committee, so it is okay to query another SMP editor if the first one you try doesn't fall in love with your book.
While none of the editors are specifically looking for sci-fi romance, their openness to discovering something fresh and new bodes well for those of us who write something a little different.
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