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Editor Interview: CamCat Books

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Books to Live In

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: Tor Books, Tanglewood Press, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Crooked Lane Books, Felony and Mayhem, Ellery Queen Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: I admit I cop to Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Donna Andrews, Carolyn Hart, and, of course, all of our CamCat authors.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: We seek a long-term relationship with our authors and encourage them to submit sequels or standalone second books. A good portion of our 2022 acquisitions calendar involves our current authors, but we actively acquire new voices as well.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: Be well-read in your genre. The biggest mistake we see is an author who submits for a particular genre and hasn't read in the space lately, so employs over-used tropes or other mechanisms that will disappoint that genre's fans.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission is one that (a) follows our submission guidelines, especially with regard to genre and word count; (b) is properly formatted; (c) is well proofed (ie, the occasional typo won't kill you, but ten of them on page one will); (d) fits well with the other books that we publish; (e) and most importantly, makes us want to keep turning the page.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Not troubling themselves to check out our website and submission guidelines. We publish genre fiction. We receive memoirs, cookbooks, picture books, and poetry almost every week.

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: Our submission questionnaire is pretty extensive! We ask a lot of questions about the author, the story, the reader, and marketing ideas. We don't care about cover letters, in fact, there is no place on the form to add a cover letter. There are plenty of spots to list previous publication credits, but those are not as important as the ability for the author to describe their work in a way that intrigues us and also have a good sense of her readership. The very last question on the form asks for the full manuscript.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: We can generally tell if the writing is good within the first few pages, but we give each manuscript at minimum a read of 6-7 chapters from the beginning, middle, and end before a rejection. If a piece gets past that initial read, it is assigned to a reader for a full manuscript read. Our questionnaire also gives us a lot of information about the story, and sometimes we can tell just from the descriptions and synopses that a story isn't for us, but we still give each piece that initial read.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: Taking a book from raw manuscript to finished product is a long process, so our team has to collectively love a story. We're all going to spend a lot of time with it, so there are multiple sets of eyes who will weigh in on the acceptance decision. We also look at our existing list - we've had to turn good books away because they were too similar to books we already had in the pipeline. We also look at authors' marketing ideas and their platform, because readers don't usually connect with a publisher, but they do connect with authors they like.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: I review submissions in my queue almost daily. We do have a first-round process that culls stories that just aren't for us (those infamous cookbooks, for example), otherwise, most stories come to my queue. I check the author's responses to our questionnaire (over fifty questions!), read the descriptions and synopsis, and then, depending on the genre, will assign to myself or another reader on the team for that initial in-depth read. The initial reader makes a recommendation and then it comes back to my queue. Submissions that get past that initial read are discussed in detail in our weekly acquisitions meeting, and then may be assigned a full read if we see the potential. We work on submissions continuously and strive to, at least, get the author a 'no' decision within thirty days (we don't always make it). 'Yes' decisions may take a little longer.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: Embracing technology is incredibly important. The way people are consuming content has been changing and will continue to change, especially for younger audiences. We do believe that we must be well positioned to adapt.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?

A: That does depend on the piece, but at least one developmental edit pass (sometimes two or three). Line editing, copy editing, and proofreading are all part of the process. Our authors work closely with our editorial team throughout all edits.

Q: Do you nominate work you've published for any national or international awards?

A: Absolutely! Just this year, we had a finalist for the Bram Stoker Awards (The Taxidermist's Lover), a finalist for the Benjamin Franklin Awards (Dead Air, for audio fiction), and two finalists for the Foreword Reviews Awards (Dead Air, Dead Men's Silence)