1. Did you always want to be editor-in-chief for a publisher of erotic books?
Can’t say it ever crossed my mind. In school, I leaned toward science and mathematics, but I was also a rapacious reader, never went anywhere without books. My careers ended up following that path organically and, I have to admit, rather effortlessly.
2. How do your husband and family feel about your job?
They don’t feel any particular way about it. It’s what I do, not who I am, and they get that. I certainly don’t hide it, nor do I edit under a pen name (many do and that’s fine; it’s a highly personal decision). The hubs enjoys my wackier author stories. And owing to the size of my family (17 kids; hard to keep track of all those careers!), I suspect some of them probably think I’m still working in a bookstore in Florida (2 states and several jobs ago). :)
3. What is your educational and career background?
I relocated from Michigan to Florida halfway through a finance degree. As much as I love math, I ultimately didn’t love it enough to make it a career. While living in Tampa, I charmed my way into a journalist job at a chain of alt-weeklies. (Note: I have the most amazing job luck.) I really had nothing to recommend me but a sparkling personality (*smirk*) and some natural writing talent. Ultimately, that was enough. I had worked my way up to associate editor when, in 2004, I edited a cover story about a little e-book company owned by Tina Engler… It was inspiring, to say the very least. The next thing I knew, I was freelancing for EC. In February of 2009, I accepted the Editor-in-Chief position.
4. How many authors do you edit yourself and how do you choose them?
Technically I have 59 authors in my stable, but their writing schedules are such that I’m working on projects for perhaps a third of them or less at any given time (barring those rare times when they submit en masse; an evil plot to make me go mental, I’m sure). And I use several criteria to choose authors, all important to me, but item #1 is imagination. I can explain technical stuff; I can teach grammar and structure and the particulars of characterization, world-building, etc. I can give authors a lot of tools, but I can’t give them an imagination. If a story is unique and inspiring, if I fall in love with the characters, I’ll do what it takes to help an author translate her/his vision to the page.
5. How many editors do you manage?
I’m personally responsible for talking 14 content editors and 9 copy editors off the occasional ledge. ;-) The publisher, Raelene Gorlinsky, edits a small group of authors as well. We also employ 2 acquisitions editors, who work more closely with the COO.
6. What are the perks of your job? The pitfalls? (It’s okay to dish, we won’t rat you out to your boss ;-)
Great conversation is high on the list. Lol! Both in the office and with authors. I go to several conferences each year, which are a blast (I love just hanging with and meeting authors, EC’s and others). And I’ve never worked at a more fun office; we have some seriously funny people at HQ (CEO Patty Marks being the funniest of all), which is important to me. If I can’t laugh, I die. The company is also extremely generous. We all know it’s impossible to please all people, all the time. But EC really does do everything within its power to keep the authors happy. I’ve also witnessed truly extraordinary kindnesses during my time here, the sort of behind-the-scene things you’ll certainly never read about in the blogosphere. As for pitfalls…reading about sex for 7 years can make you jaded. :) It’s a rare day when an author surprises me with his/her sex scenes. And because of the digital nature of the job, the potential to overwork is high. I’m at home, relaxing, playing on my laptop…why NOT edit some more? I have to force myself to turn off my computer most evenings.
7. What do you like to read for pleasure (assuming you have any time left in your busy schedule)?
I rarely ever have time, but when I do…horror, suspense and a wide array of nonfiction.
8. Have you ever written and published any fiction? If not, do you secretly aspire to be a writer?
God no. And I could if I wished; EC has no rule against editors writing. A long time ago, I thought I might one day publish something, have even started a few projects over the years. But despite that aforementioned modest writing talent, I simply have no love for it. I can happily edit for 12 hours but I can’t force myself to write for 20 minutes. Editing is what I’m crazy-time passionate about, so I don’t push it. I know too many people who aren’t even doing something they like, let alone lucky enough to do what they love.
9. What’s the best advice you can give aspiring writers planning to pitch to you at a conference?
I don’t bite. So take a few deep breaths and relax. I feel just wretched when someone is so nervous during a pitch that they can’t speak. And here’s the thing about that—I’m really no big shot. I don’t get my jollies by intimidating authors. And I truly believe I can’t edit effectively, certainly not with the author’s best interest in mind, if I let my ego go unchecked. I’m not in this for worldwide editorial domination, don’t treat bestsellers differently than I would an unpublished author, and have no interest in popularity contests. I never want an author to feel as if I hold the fate of her/his career in my hands—just one particular book’s fate at EC. The worst I can say is, “No thank you”, and if I do, I wholeheartedly encourage authors to try again.
Which day? Which hour? You know what they say about variety… ;-)