Tuesday, July 26, 2011
EDITOR KRISTEN WEBER SITS IN ROCCO'S HOTSEAT!
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the Humans friend, former NAL editor and now freelancer, Kristen Weber!
For those of you who don’t know Kristen, she began her career in the subsidiary rights department of what is now Hachette Book Group, but quickly switched to the editorial side, eventually overseeing Grand Central Publishing's legendary (although now defunct) Mysterious Press. There, she worked with many amazing authors, including such luminaries as M. C. Beaton, Lindsey Davis, Margaret Maron, and Marcia Muller.
She most recently worked as a senior editor for Penguin's New American Library (NAL), where she helped launch Obsidian, their dedicated mystery imprint. Besides running the day-to-day operations of Obsidian, she edited approximately 30 original titles per year and also oversaw NAL's movie/television tie-in program and edited numerous original novels based on TV programs such as Burn Notice, The Unit, Criminal Minds, and Psych.
She’s since moved to LA with her husband, and now runs a freelance editorial service called (what else) Kristen Weber Editorial Services.
So now without any further ado….here’s Kris!
R: Meow, Kris! Welcome!
K: Thank you, Rocco. A pleasure to be here.
R: I see from your photo you are a dog person (ahem) Hope you don’t mind a cool cat interviewing you?
K: Not if the cat is you, Rocco.
R: No extra points for sucking up to the interviewer, meow! Although I do appreciate it. Let’s get to it!
R: What book that you’ve edited are you proudest of?
K: Honestly, this is like asking me to choose between my children. Every book I work on has a special place in my heart. It's a lot of work to buy a book as an in-house editor - you need to sell every member of your team on it and it's impossible to do that if you yourself aren't completely over the moon about it. And as a freelance editor, I only take on books that I feel this same way about. An editor needs to be as strong a champion for a book as the author. I always feel when an author trusts me with their book they trust me with their heart.
R: You were an editor in-house (both at Grand Central and at Penguin's New American Library) for years. How would you compare working for a “Big Six” publisher with freelance editing?
K: I loved working in-house, but I really love working freelance. I only have to answer to myself. There are projects I've taken on as a freelance editor that I know my publishers would have said required too much editorial work, but I took the spark I saw in them and really helped the author figure out how to take it to the next level–and almost all of them went on to find agents! They just needed an advocate. Sometimes you can't take that leap as an in-house editor that I can take as a freelancer. For a manuscript to be able to land a traditional book deal, it has to be at level that is hard for an author to get to on their own. I can help them hone their manuscript in a way that they probably weren't even aware it needed, while still retaining their voice and vision. Then hopefully an agent or editor will take them on.
R: Was there ever a book you just loved that you couldn’t get the okay to make an offer on?
K: Yes, but I assume it wasn't meant to be. If my publishing house wasn't as enthusiastic about a project as I was, it would be very hard to publish it in a big way. It's really important to have your entire team behind you.
R: What qualities do you feel are most important in the author/editor relationship?
K: I think an open and honest dialogue is the most important. That's why I usually call my freelance clients first to let them know what kind of notes they're going to be getting. It can be overwhelming to receive notes on what is essentially your baby. I try to make them go down as smoothly as possible. It's also important that if you disagree with something, you talk to your editor about it so you can figure out a fix that works for both of you. In the end, it's your name that's going to be on the cover, but it’s important to remember that sometimes you're just too close and need an unbiased eye to point out what isn't working.
R: What is your favorite genre of book and why? As an editor and as a reader.
K: I edit what I love to read. I'm a voracious and very commercial reader. I read everything as you can tell from the last few books I've read - River Marked by Patricia Briggs, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (I'm going through an obsession with young adult novels), Voodoo River by Robert Crais, You Belong To Me by Karen Rose, A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace, and next up is Jennifer Weiner's Then Came You. I'm a crazy person when it comes to books. I usually travel with 4-6 just on a 5-hour plane ride back to New York, in case of delays. I used to carry two books on my 10-minute commute to my office at Penguin. My worst nightmare is to be stuck somewhere without something to read.
R: The book market is ever changing. What are your views on the “indie” market? The future of e-publishing as opposed to print?
K: I have strong views about this. My concern is that authors are just doing it because it is "easy" - and not because it is the right step for their career. Rejection does not mean you should automatically self publish - it might mean you need to take careful stock of your manuscript. I have so many authors that come to me because they've been rejected by agents and are thinking about self-publishing - but their books are nowhere near ready yet. It only takes me a couple of chapters to figure out where a manuscript needs help - and many of those clients who work with me end up taking their books to another level and go on to traditional book deals. Even if you don't want a traditional book deal, it's still important to make sure you have the best product possible and have a real plan for publication. I really worry about authors putting out a product just because they can - and this is happening with established writers as well. Readers know if you're not putting out your best product and will feel cheated. And the self-publishing process isn't as easy as one might think. While it's easy to get your book out there, how is anyone even going to find out your book exists? Figuring that out is a huge and complicated job, as evidenced by many self-publishing "stars" now seeking and receiving deals from traditional publishers.
R: What author, past or present, would you most have loved to work with and why?
K: Probably Judy Blume or Agatha Christie - their books were the ones that turned me into the reader I am today.
R: What was the greatest challenge you faced as an editor?
K: My greatest challenge always came when a book I loved didn't perform as well as we hoped. I'm still heartbroken over authors that I had to let go. Nobody buys a book because they think it's going to fail - but sometimes no matter what you do it just doesn't work.
R: There are many writer conferences. In your opinion, which are the best ones for “Newbie” writers to attend and why?
K: I'd look for any that offer courses on the craft of writing and plenty of chances to network with agents and editors. I am particularly a fan of the regional conferences put on by local Romance Writers of America or Mystery Writers of America chapters, because they're smaller with more of a chance to make contacts - which is something you might not get to do at a bigger fan oriented convention (although those are always so much fun too!).
R: Just for fun: (I’ve omitted my usual dog or cat person question for obvious reasons. Ahem)
R: Night or Day?
R: Beach or Mountains?
R: Black or white?
K: Black - you can take me out of NY but you'll never take me out of my all black clothes.
R: Favorite Drink:
K: A milkshake
R: Favorite Movie:
K: So many! But Clue is one I am always happy to catch on cable.
R: Favorite TV Show:
K: Criminal Minds
R: Finish this sentence: If I could have one wish granted it would be…
K: to have all my family and friends back in New York move out to Los Angeles with me!
R: What, not my pawprint?????
Kristen Weber is currently working as a freelance editor and loves helping authors figure out what's keeping them from a traditional book deal or perfect their book before self publishing. Please visit her web site at http://www.kristenweber.com/ for more information about the services she offers.
Thank you so much, Kris!
Well, kitties, what better way to finish off July than with this interview? Keep cool, now,and enjoy the weekend!
And don’t forget next week – Monday we kick off August with Ashlyn Chase – Part Deux!
SCI FI BLOGGING CAT.