Acquiring my first author – Carly Silver
In my role as an editorial assistant to one senior editor and two executive editors, I read a lot of submissions. These vary from vague query letters to my favorites, which come in three parts: a clear and concise cover letter addressed to the editor of a line, a succinct, intriguing synopsis of a book that could fit right into said line, and the first three chapters of a manuscript that catches my interest from the first sentence. This last group can be hard to find, but, when you do, it’s a wonderful feeling. And it was even better when I came across a manuscript that I felt had real promise, a manuscript that delivered on the classic Special Edition tropes in a new and exciting way. Such was Amy Woods’ Hometown Healer.
I first read the initial three chapters of Hometown Healer in April 2013. In her cover letter, Amy expressed just why she loved Special Edition. I can’t tell you how nice that was. Many would-be authors just send their manuscript to a line they haven’t read and researched extensively (hence the vague query letters), instead of submitting to a line they’ve researched.
What I loved about Amy was her enthusiasm for, and knowledge, of what we had produced and what we were looking for. Her story had a ton of Special Edition hooks, like a small town in Texas, a single parent and a young child. But Amy didn’t sprinkle these in haphazardly. Instead, she integrated them into her story seamlessly. She was fluent in Special Edition-speak, and, having read so many of our books, was familiar with what worked and didn’t for our line.
Without giving too much away, I can tell you that Hometown Healer is sure to be a winner. The heroine, Paige, is a single mother. That, in and of itself, is an interesting twist, as our line often features single dads, rather than moms, who find their soulmates. Paige, like so many of our heroines and our fantastic readers, is a career-minded woman who does her best to balance her family and her career. She lost her husband in a tragic accident, and her young son has barely spoken since. Out of this tragedy comes love, as Paige works to rebuild her life and her son’s throughout the book.
Once I finished the first three chapters of the manuscript, I immediately requested the full from Amy. Hometown Healer felt very different from the other submissions I had read so far. It read like a real-life romance transplanted onto the page of a Harlequin novel. I loved the full and recommended it to Gail Chasan, the senior editor for Special Edition. Once Gail read it, she agreed that Amy’s writing style and her fresh story were a good fit for the line.
When Gail and I made “the call” to tell Amy that we wanted to sign her to a contract, it was one of the most exciting moments of my career so far. I had never worked with an author from the submission stage onwards, and this was my first acquisition for the company. To be working with such a talented author, let alone one who would be writing for Special Edition, was, and is, a source of great excitement and pride.
As Amy said in her post, editors do read the manuscripts you send in. We do our best to reply in a timely manner to all submissions, but, in addition to the volume of manuscripts we receive and review, we’re also kept very busy making sure that you have great books to read each month! Those who do their research, follow up with editors in a timely manner, and are professional and courteous will stand out from the pack. Who knows – you might just be our next star writer!
Right now Amy and I are working on the revision process–more to come next month!
Thanks, Carly, for this insider’s scoop! You can find out more about Carly on Twitter, @CarlyASilver, and find Amy as @AmyWoodsBooks.