Hello, readers! It’s that time again for our new feature:
“What’s Happening Wednesday?”
As a reminder, on the last Wednesday of every month, the fiction team will be sharing an inside scoop on the projects each of our team members are working on. Find out what’s happening in fiction, and let us know what you think by answering the questions at the end of each team member’s thoughts.
I am currently pondering a manuscript submission that I just can’t let go. Wish I could tell you the name, but it’s still too soon. It is the kind of story that I love . . . quirky characters, a romantic setting, delightful language that won’t let me go on autopilot, a unique concept, and love—lots of it. And it is about becoming a mother and the unexpected changes that come with adjusting to a new and unique little treasure in your life.
Made me think about another quirky story in one of my favorite Tyndale novels, The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers. The first day I read this story (and the five other times I’ve read it), all I could ever imagine was my grandmother as a little girl in the hills of Tennessee. Her name was Kathleen, but her friends called her Kat. That alone makes me smile. Well . . . that and the smell of Pond’s Cold Cream that she always used. I still believe this book could be Kat’s story. Cadi, the little hillbilly girl in Francine’s novel, will always have my granny’s voice.
Is there a book you love that reminds you of your mother or grandmother?
This week I’m planning a workshop that I’ll be teaching on Saturday to a group of church librarians. They’ve arranged to have a bookstore selling product at the event with a focus on the titles I’ll be presenting. I’m looking forward to talking to them about our exciting fiction lineup. It’s always fun to talk with people who share your passion for seeing God move through story.
I’ve been asked to talk about the publishing process—from proposal to publication—with an emphasis on cover design and trends. I find that “trends” is a popular yet difficult topic to discuss, since a trend is best described after it has already happened. We’re often acquiring novels a year or more before publication, and it’s difficult to determine what people will be passionate about a year or more from now. That is why we try to publish a broad spectrum of genres and content with strong concepts that have unique, marketable hooks. The goal is to be on the front end of a trend, not copying it after it has already become successful.
What part of the publishing process interests you? Are there any fiction trends that you see coming to an end? Any trends you’d like to see in the future?
Today I’m working on giving editorial feedback to several authors on their current works in progress. It’s hard, painstaking work—and requires a curious mix of encouragement and honest evaluation—but it’s always enjoyable to see a story develop and grow as authors absorb feedback and work it into the story. I’m constantly amazed at their creativity! I’m also reviewing proposals to determine whether or not they would be good fits for our fiction line. That can be trickier than you’d think. Though we have certain genres we’re more interested in at any given time, usually I’m looking for that indefinable quality that makes one proposal stick out over another. There are a variety of factors that come into play. Sometimes the author is someone I’ve wanted to work with for a while. If it’s a new author, sometimes it’s the writing—the author’s tone, voice, and style just pull me in and won’t let go. Other times the concept grabs me first—it has a hook that’s easy to articulate and is marketable and memorable.
What about you? When browsing through novels at a store or online, what most often pushes you to actually lay down money for a story? Is it familiarity with the author? A recommendation? Reviews? The back cover summary?
Right now there’s a lot coming across my desk. Along with my daily responsibilities—looking through printed-out versions of manuscripts (known as galleys), updating and keeping track of social media, etc.—I have been preparing for the busy summer ahead. Besides signing up for conferences and giving advice to prospective authors, I have been working with a few others in our department to craft an engaging pitch for our June internship position and to review possible candidates. As I started at Tyndale as an intern a few summers ago, this project has been an interesting twist for me; quantifying what I’ve learned and which projects really helped me grow has been a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience.
If you were asked to list the most important skill you’ve learned on the job, what would it be?
It’s a busy week as this is the time of year when you’re working on releasing titles and writing marketing plans for upcoming releases, so I am wearing several hats at the moment.
My main priority this week is working on getting several titles launched in May (which is only a week away), including Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales by Randy Singer, Heaven Hears by Lindy Boone Michaelis, and Courageous Grace by Gayle Haggard. It’s been quite a challenge because the three books are so different and require a lot of creativity in writing copy, pitching media, and planning their social media campaigns. I’ll be spending the next few days finalizing ad copy and design for these titles in hopes of reaching our target market for each one.
When are you most likely to stop and look at an ad? Is there something that catches your attention, be it the artwork, layout, title treatment, or actual copy?
We’d love to hear from you. Fiction is one of our favorite topics, so let’s get the conversation started in the comments and our poll below!