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Editor Interview: How2Conquer

This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.

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

A: informative nonfiction

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

A: At How2Conquer, our passion is connecting subject experts with the subject curious through empowering and informative nonfiction books. We’re proudly women-owned and based in Atlanta, Georgia.
We’ve worked with authors from a variety of fields and a range of different backgrounds, from high-level corporate executives to experienced volunteers, and veterinarians to school board members. Our authors generally come to us because they’re working on a book they think could help people, but publishing can be difficult to navigate. We support them throughout the publishing journey, from translating their extensive knowledge into streamlined, accessible books and workbooks, to helping build their platform and marketing efforts.
How2Conquer books generally share three things in common: use of story, an emphasis on graphics, and an encouraging tone.

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

A: No matter where you’re submitting a manuscript, it’s always a good idea to check what the publisher is looking for in terms of categories or lists they’re trying to build. We accept manuscript submissions on a wide range of subjects, but it helps to know when you submit how your book will fit into a publisher’s catalog. This can also give you an edge when you put together a pitch.
Since we publish informative nonfiction, one piece of advice I always give our authors is to own their expertise. Read back through your manuscript and look for instances where you use filler phrases like: “I would recommend,” “I’d suggest,” “I think,” “My advice would be,” and similar – and delete them!
It doesn’t matter how much someone knows or how far they’ve progressed over their careers – some people will still undercut what they’re about to say with such introductory phrases. These phrases actively create space between you, your expertise, and the advice you’re giving – advice the reader already knows is yours, since they decided to pick up your book.
Of course, there are places where phrases like this are needed – for instance, when arguing a position or emphasizing a break from the expected. But in general, it’s better if you just get to the point of the sentence.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: Our ideal submission is a manuscript with an encouraging tone that includes stories and aims to help the reader learn or accomplish something new – whether it’s on a specific business/career topic, industry knowledge (like security or business resiliency), personal/professional growth, or something closer to home, like parenting or pet care. We prefer completed manuscripts with a target range of 40,000 – 70,000 words, but you only need to submit the first three chapters.
We like manuscripts that encourage readers as they go, because we know that when you’re learning something new, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. We’ve been lucky to find authors whose passion for their subject and genuine desire to share knowledge naturally translates into approachable, reassuring, and inspiring writing.
We encourage our authors to include stories in their manuscripts. The stories they share – sometimes funny, sweet, or even cringe-worthy – help convey nuance and exhibit ideas in action, promoting understanding and retention of information for the reader.
Finally, it’s always exciting to find a writer who’s already thinking about marketing and how they want to promote their book. While we do a lot to support our authors in this endeavor, readers really want to hear from the author. You don’t need a massive, existing online platform – a lot of our authors are just starting to build theirs when they approach us. But it definitely helps to already be thinking about marketing and what you might like to do.

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

A: We haven’t experienced this yet, but I have worked with other publications before where writers will send submissions by email, or send a short message through a contact form asking how to get published, rather than using the submission form or reading information provided on the website.
I always want to help these people, but as a publisher begins receiving more submissions during a reading window, it can become overwhelming. As a writer myself, I know it can be frustrating to sometimes go months waiting for a response to a submission. Most publishers have a specific submissions review process to make sure they can review and respond to writers as efficiently as possible, and making sure you follow their instructions helps them do this.
Be sure to check the publisher’s website for any information provided about submitting and getting published before reaching out – you might find an answer to your question on their submissions page or in the FAQs. If you don’t find it there, definitely get in touch!

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

A: Our submission form collects information about the writer and their manuscript. We don’t require that writers include a book proposal, and if they don’t, we’ve included questions on the form they can fill out instead to give us the important details. We also don’t require that writers include a cover letter, but of course they are welcome to if they feel it will provide additional details or context important to the submission.

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

A: Our editorial process includes seven steps, including: initial manuscript assessment, structural editing, developmental editing, content editing, copyediting, final content quality control (QC) review, and an editorial roundtable.
During initial manuscript assessment (part of our submissions process), we complete a higher-level review to determine if a manuscript is a good fit for us. If we offer a contract, and sometimes if we want to offer a contract but feel the manuscript isn’t quite ready yet, we send the writer initial feedback detailing any advice for strengthening that manuscript, based on what we’ve seen so far. Once under contract, the author makes edits based on this feedback.
In structural editing, we generally focus on the overall structure, typical manuscript elements we encourage (such as subheadings, examples, key takeaways, etc.), and edits the author has made from the initial feedback. At this step, we may reorganize large pieces of content (at the chapter or heading level) and add paragraph breaks, or make smaller suggestions like adding tip boxes or infographics.
Developmental editing takes a deeper dive into the structure and content, considering overall structure and flow of the manuscript, areas that need more detail or to be tightened/shortened, and opportunities to improve reader comprehension. Where structural editing may suggest adding a heading to flesh out an idea or create balance, developmental editing may make suggestions about what specific items to address under that heading. Or, on seeing a structural editor’s suggested heading, they may decide a chapter needs to be broken into two chapters to allow enough room to cover everything.
After this step, we send the author a developmental editing feedback report, and they have another opportunity to make edits, write new content, and make any other larger changes they’d like to.
Next, in content editing, our editors start to really dig into the words on the page. This is the stage in the editorial process where we begin to suggest specific rewrites and opportunities to rework how something is written. Sometimes called substantive editing, content editing deals with the organization and presentation of existing content. It involves rewriting to improve style or eliminate ambiguity, reorganizing or tightening disorganized or loosely written sections, adjusting or recasting tables, and other remedial editing. A content editor reads and carefully edits the manuscript with an eye on the completeness, flow, and construction of ideas and stories, working paragraph by paragraph and chapter by chapter.
Copyediting, which may also be called mechanical or line editing, helps create the most readable, professional version of a manuscript. Although content and line editing may sometimes overlap somewhat, copyediting looks at specific elements of consistency and mechanics of writing that makes it the “buck” where significant changes and queries for the author should conclude. After this edit, we go back to the writer with any final questions or suggested edits.
During our final content QC review, we complete a final proofread of the manuscript before it’s approved to move into our production process. In the production process, the manuscript is added to layout in InDesign with any graphics and infographics we create.
Our final step is an editorial roundtable, where our team sits at an actual table and reviews the book in its entirety as it will look when published. We each review every page, passing it on to the next person as we finish reading. This review is a final QC/proofread and opportunity to review design/layout elements.
Finally, we send the author a digital proof of the book, which is a PDF showing how it will look when printed. The author reviews this proof before signing an official Approval for Publication.

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

A: Yes! We nominate all our books for the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. We also nominate our books for additional subject-category awards as possible.