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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Interview of Holly Atkinson/Samhain Publishing

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of Holly Atkinson and Samhain Publishing.

Since she can remember, Holly Atkinson's professional ambition has revolved around fiction editing. She was fortunate to receive her first taste in editing when she was thirteen and wrote copy for a local realtor show. In 2008, Holly graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor’s in English, specializing in Creative Writing. Her first real job in the literary world came in the role of line editor for Lyrical Press. In 2011, she joined Mundania Press as a content editor and finally landed her dream job at Samhain Publishing in 2012.

Holly describes herself as the quintessential book nerd. In her spare time, she writes erotic romance under a penname, though she hopes to produce more mainstream works in the future so the more conservative members of her family can read her work. She lives in Missouri with her husband, loves to travel, and goes a little crazy around the holidays. Her largest writing influences include Pamela Smith Hill, Aaron Sorkin, JK Rowling, Stephen King, and Joss Whedon.


Q: Describe your job.
A: I am an acquiring content editor for Samhain Publishing. I read submissions, make offers, issue rejections, request revise/resubmits, conduct edits, send forms, provide feedback, and do my best to serve my authors as a sounding board and problem solver.

The most common misconception I encounter is “editing is proofreading”. This typically comes from people outside of the industry who are either not avid readers or don’t realize how involved the process from manuscript to published book truly is—for author, editor, and everyone in between.

Q: How do you handle complaints/negative feedback from readers/authors?
A: It is very important to remember the business of publication isn’t personal to anyone aside from the author, and perhaps the author’s support system (friends, family, crit partners, etc). An author’s book is their baby, and at times it can be very difficult to reconcile a rejection as a business decision since the work itself is personal. I try to remember this when I encounter resistance from authors. And since I double as an author, I also try to frame my criticism in ways that would reach me if I were on the receiving end. Ultimately, some decisions are going to be more difficult than others; no matter how much I empathize, I have to remain objective.

Q: Ebooks or print. Do you read both? If you read ebooks, what reader do you have?
A: I still buy print books, but all of my reading is done through the Kindle app on my Nexus. Ebooks makes traveling incredibly easy (and light), and I’m never without something to read.

Q: Conferences and conventions. Do you attend any and how do you decide which ones to go to?
A: Yes, I attend when I can. I decide which ones to attend based on location and amount of time I have to prepare. For instance, RT this year was in Kansas City, which is a three hour drive from where I live, so I was able to counterbalance cost with convenience. Add to the fact that I have a day job on top of my editorial duties, and my conference attendance becomes largely dependent on cost, distance, and how much time I’ll need to take off work.

Q: What are your guidelines for a writer/author to submit a book/manuscript for a review or to sell?
A: Samhain’s guidelines for manuscript submission are available on the website. Follow those and you’re golden.

To editorialize (pun intended), I advise authors to review publisher submission guidelines carefully, and double-check you have met all criteria before clicking “send”. Be sure the manuscript you’re submitting is appropriate for the house. For instance, if you’re trying to sell a YA—even if it’s the best thing since Harry Potter—a house that doesn’t currently publish YA is not the place to send it. Be patient, but don’t hesitate to ask questions. Be sure your cover letter is professional, your correspondence is courteous, and if you receive a revise/resubmit or a rejection, don’t argue with the editor. We don’t issue those lightly.

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. Where do you appear?
A: I have a blog, which I don’t update as much as I could. The best way to find me is via Twitter, @EditorHolly. My Facebook page is relatively private, though a few authors have discovered me. I don’t mind being found out, but I do warn those who try to find me that I can be highly irreverent and vocal about certain issues, and Facebook is typically where I let loose.

Some suggestions and important information:
Have fun with your work. The first person you have to please is yourself. A rejection is not the end of the line; no successful writer got to where they are without first hearing the word “no”. Stephen King, JK Rowling, Nora Roberts—you name any artist, and odds are they dealt with rejection.

Consider feedback from all angles—do your best to distance yourself from your work before dismissing comments from editors, agents, or crit partners. As I mentioned above, writing is incredibly personal, and perceived negative remarks can be very difficult to accept. However, your writing cannot mature without criticism and experience. You will know more about writing tomorrow than you do today, and the best authors are those who accept there is always room for growth.

If all you hear is how great your work is, you’re not asking the right people. That’s not to say your work isn’t great or those people don’t know what they’re talking about, but all-praise-all-the-time shouldn’t be considered reliable feedback.

All of this should sound familiar, if not recycled advice from many, many others. I can’t claim I came up with it, but having been in the industry on both ends, I can definitely attest to its truth.

Thank you so much for having me. Three books offered by Samhain:

The Mountain’s Shadow
Series Name: The Lycanthropy Files
Series Number: 1
Author: Cecilia Dominic
Length: 81,000
Genre: Romantic Elements > Urban Fantasy
Theme: Shape-Shifters
Price: 5.50
Publication Date: October 1st 2013

Some mistakes can literally come back to bite you.

First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor. However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

Dweller on the Threshold
Series Name: A Beri O’Dell Book
Series Number: 1
Author: Rinda Elliott
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Price: $6.50
Publication Date: March 26th 2013

On a hunt to save her sister, the last thing Beri O’Dell needs is love. Aren’t demons bad enough?

Beri O’Dell is investigating paranormal creatures because she wants to know what she is. Taller and stronger than most men, she astral projects and can peel through dimensional layers to see the creatures and spirits beyond.

She once helped her foster sister, Detective Elsa Remington, track down killers in Jacksonville, Florida, but stopped when a nasty fire elemental turned her strength against her. Now, she finds herself pulled back when something steals Elsa’s soul and puts her into a coma.
With little time to spare, Beri searches for the reason behind her sister’s coma. She has help in her spirit guides Fred and Phro, but others come along for the ride, including a pyro-nervous witch, and an androgynous necromancer.
The last thing Beri needs is to fall in love with a mysterious stranger. But the handsome Minoan warrior Nikolos knows what creature she’s after because he’s battled it before.
It’s bad.

Scent of Salvation
Series Name: Chronicles of Eorthe
Series Number: 1
Author: Annie Nicholas
Length: 95000
Genre: Romance>AW>Paranormal
Theme: Vampires, Shape-Shifters
Price: 5.50
Publication Date: July 30th 2013

Love blooms across species, culture, and time.

Stranded in another dimension, on a primitive version of Earth, Dr. Susan Barlow needs to find a way to survive. There’s no electricity, no cities, and to her shock, no humans. Instead, she faces a population of werewolves, vampires and incubi. The people are vicious but she must find her place among them. And live.

An illness is killing Sorin’s pack. As alpha it’s his responsibility to save them, but it’s a battle this warrior doesn’t know how to fight. Then a blue light in the sky brings a creature he’s never seen. She calls herself human, but to him she smells like hope.

Sorin offers Susan a safe haven in return for a cure, but she’s not that kind of a doctor. She’s a doctor of physics, not a physician. Yet as they search for a cure to save a dying people, they find something special—each other.

But even with Sorin’s protection, Susan can’t help but wonder how long she can survive in a world without humans…

Warning: Feral shifters, power-hungry vampires, and a sole human female suffering culture shock.


Paris said...

Welcome, Holly!

We share a favorite writing influence--Joss Whedon. Love his Firefly series!

Cara Marsi said...

Welcome, Holly. Very interesting interview. Thanks for the advice. I hear only good things about Samhain. I'll follow you on Twitter.

Rose Anderson said...

Welcome Holly. Great advice. Your interview comes on the heels of a recent conversation with Ms. Howson there. I've decided to submit to Samhain and see what happens. Thanks for your tips on the best way to do that!
Again, thanks for coming today. Best wishes for your novels.

Melissa Keir said...

Wonderful interview. I really appreciate your comments on editing and what publishing houses are looking for. I find that so many people fail to read the submissions guidelines. It is important!


Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating books Samhain Publishing has in the line-up! Thank you for the concise advice and insights, Holly. Happy writing!

S. D. Keeling said...

It's really great getting an editor's perspective on the process. Thank you!

I agree about the importance of quality criticism in shaping your work. Whenever I read feedback from my two favorite critique partners, for a minute or two I want to throttle them--because I know they're right. After I've struggled through the changes, I LOVE them, because I know they've helped me make the manuscript that much stronger.

I agree about Joss Whedon and Aaron Sorkin too. Great list of influences. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you all very much for the warm welcome, and for dropping by to say hello!

Nancy said...

Lovely interview, Holly. You shared many great facts that will help writers. I hear great things about Samhain Publishing, too.

Anonymous said...

Samhain recently agreed to publish all my old gothics as ebooks. I'm so thrilled about about this because I truly enjoy gothics and hope others who enjoy theme will now have the chance to read mine as ebooks. Thanks, Samhain! Jane Toombs

Anonymous said...

Thanks again, everyone!

Sandy said...

Sorry to be so late, Holly. All three of your books interest me, but the first one the most. Our children have health issues that the medical profession only guesses at, and it would be nice to find the real answers.

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