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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Interview with Editor Heather Howland from Entangled Publishing

Entangled Editor Heather Howland
Readers, we have a special treat for you: an interview with Heather Howland, one of the editorial directors at Entangled Publishing, LLC. Get ready for a new perspective from the other side.

I have heard so many good things about Entangled publishing. Please tell our readers about the publisher you represent.  
Entangled Publishing is a boutique publisher of romantic novels in most teen and adult subgenres. Founded by industry-savvy authors and backed by a successful media corporation, Entangled Publishing utilizes a bold new business model that ensures authors are paid a fair royalty for their talent and hard work, while giving everyone in the company—from the copy editor to the marketing director—a financial stake in the books they work on. In other words, we don’t make money unless the author makes money. 
Though we’re relatively new on the scene (we began accepting submissions in April 2011 and released our first book in July 2011), Entangled has experienced tremendous growth and success. Our books are distributed worldwide via Macmillan, and at last count, 5 of our titles have been New York Times bestsellers, and 9 have been USA TODAY bestsellers. Our commitment to quality and fairness are the driving forces behind everything we do.
Describe the genre of the most recent release, and is the only genre you represent?  
My most recent release was CHASING MRS. RIGHT, the highly anticipated sequel to Katee Robert’s NYT bestselling Brazen debut WRONG BED, RIGHT GUY. While I love sexy contemporary romance and have a lot of it on my list (I am the editorial director of Brazen, after all!), I equally adore gritty paranormal romance. In May, I’ll be releasing SOUTH OF SURRENDER, the third book in Laura Kaye’s Hearts of the Anemoi series. The book is dark, steamy, and utterly addictive. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I highly encourage you to give it a shot. Laura and I are longtime BDB fans (as are most of my authors—I don’t think this is a coincidence), so there’s definitely some Brother flavor going on. 
For authors or prospective authors: what influences your decision to read a submission: the query letter; synopsis; an agent’s submission; etc.
Our very first impression of your novel is the query letter. Properly formatted, well-written query letters instantly engage me, and that’s exactly what you want to do. I can’t stress how important it is to know the industry and what’s expected of you (and your query letter) before submitting your material to agents and editors. First impressions are everything! 
To be honest, I’m just as likely to pick up an unagented query as an agented one. While it’s nice to know someone else in the industry has already vetted the manuscript, I’ve actually been really successful plucking gems out of the slushpile and making bestsellers out of them. There’s a certain thrill in discovering an author and helping him or her build their career.
Gems found in the slushpile. Good to know! To get an author’s submission read, what is the biggest no no you see that makes you reject them?
Again, know the industry. Know the genre you’re writing and what plot elements have already been done too many times to be considered fresh. Know your craft inside and out so when you break a rule, it’s a stylistic choice that will make me sit up and take notice. Know what a clich├ęd beginning is and avoid writing one (It was a dark and stormy night. As the lightning crashed outside, I stood in front of the mirror and assessed my long, wavy blond hair and closed my aquamarine eyes…). Know what the agent or editor you’re querying is interested in—I’m not the best editor for a person with a cozy mystery or an epic fantasy, for example. And please, please, please don’t query an editor with a generic, meant-for-agents “I’m seeking representation for my novel” letter. We won’t represent your novel—we’ll publish it.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract? 
Do. Not. Give. Up. I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve found in the slush that have gone on to become bestsellers—after the same manuscript was repeatedly rejected by agents and other publishers. This industry is extremely subjective and time-sensitive. All it takes is finding an editor who loves your book, shares your vision, and will do everything in their power to make the book—and your career, if they’re hands on like me—glow. Even if an editor can’t take on a particular project because of timing or another book like it on their list or any number of other reasons, we do remember authors we love. And we’ll be waiting for you to submit your next project. Also, do yourself a favor and read Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. This is the most effective, efficient, commercial plotting system out there. You can’t go wrong if you follow Blake’s formula.
How can our readers find your submission guidelines?  
Entangled recently switched to the greatest invention in the history of the submission process, and it’s called Submittable. Authors who work with magazines and literary journals will already be familiar with it. We ask that all submissions be sent via this portal, and in return, we guarantee a response within 30 days. Read through the various imprints, select the one that’s right for you and your book, and submit! If you want to direct your submission to a particular editor, there’s a field for that. It’s extremely simple, plus it allows authors to see status updates as their book progresses through the submission process. You can read our guidelines and submit your manuscripts at https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/
A 30 day response is nearly unheard of from a publisher! Thank you for this wealth of information. Tell us more about you:
Heather Howland began editing in the legal, industrial, and technical sectors nine years ago while working as a Production Manager. Before joining the Entangled family, she worked as a freelance editor and as the acquisitions editor of a small romance publisher. She now edits popular authors such as NYT bestsellers Katee Robert and Laura Kaye, USA Today bestseller Cari Quinn, and Amy Andrews, as well as up-and-coming authors Tonya Burrows, Samanthe Beck, and Tessa Bailey. In her spare time, Heather creates book covers for Entangled and Brazen, hosts craft chats and teaches editing workshops for various organizations, and mentors YA authors through the editing process at Savvy U. She holds a BS in creative writing and psychology, which she channels into her love of dark and sexy romantic fiction. Find her on Twitter at @HeatherHowland.

Heather was interviewed by
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers
member Nancy Lee Badger


Nancy Lee Badger said...

Thank you for the interview. You inspired me to get back to my typewriter, check over a manuscript, and submit it to Entangled. It was easy! Love the new system. Again, thank you for the great tips.

Edith said...

Brilliant interview! Thank you!

Mickey said...

What an encouraging interview. It gave sincere advice, instruction and most of all hope to all writers, even those who have suffered the pangs of the "rejection" letter.

Unknown said...

This is a great interview. I just sent a query to Heather via Submittable and was concerned it would get lost in the internet world. So, keeping my fingers crossed on a 30 day response. Thanks for this interview.