interviewed and posted by Aunty Cindy
We are excited and pleased today (and Aunty's extra tickled) to have Sourcebooks acquiring editor Deb Werksman as our guest in the Lair! Deb is taking time from a very busy day full of meetings so she will be popping in and out to answer your questions in the comments as time allows.
AC: Please tell us a little about Sourcebooks Casablanca, your job/workload on a daily basis, and your previous experience in the publishing industry.
DW: Sourcebooks Casablanca was started in 1997 with Greg Godek's 1001 Ways to Be Romantic. I've been running it since I joined Sourcebooks in 1998 and it has been the #1 non-fiction romance imprint in the country. Before joining Sourcebooks I had my own publishing company (started in 1989), specializing in political satire. In addition to running Sourcebooks Casablanca, I was also acquiring for the rest of Sourcebooks' list--gift books, humor, women's interest, self help, parenting, calendars and Jane Austen sequels!
(Aunty wipes the sweat from her brow just thinking about all that work!)
We launched our romance fiction list in 2007 and my non-fiction responsibilities have been taken over by other editors and I'm acquiring single title romance, Jane Austen sequels and women's fiction.
My daily workload varies every day, which is part of what I love about my career! If anyone REALLY wants to know what my typical day looks like I'll be happy to give you details!
(Aunty would prefer a cocktail from a cabana boy, or a foot massage from Sven.)
AC: Do you maintain an awareness of what other publishing houses are doing as part of your assessment of what to buy? Do you have certain "specialties"? Or do you buy what you love and want to read?
DW: Part of my criteria for acquiring is that I have to feel we can successfully sell the book, so we're always looking at the marketplace to see what's working. I don't "specialize" per se, although I have more experience with historicals and paranormals than with, for example romantic suspense right now, but I want my list to be balanced across all the subgenres.
My four criteria are:
*a heroine the reader can relate to
*a hero the reader can fall in love with
*a world gets created
*a hook--a 2-3 sentence description that I can use to sell the book
(Aunty scribbles furiously on her Bandit notepad.)
AC: We've all heard that contemporary romances are not selling and that paranormal is over done. What trends do you see in the marketplace?
DW: I think this is such a robust marketplace that there are readers for every subgenre all the time. When a subgenre gets overpublished it's tougher to launch there, but the established authors will continue to thrive. If a book has a strong enough hook, it will transcend what the subgenre is doing.
AC: And any advice for writers about trends? Or what to do if your book is not a current "hot" trend?
I begin to feel like a broken record, but the hook is the most important thing ESPECIALLY if your book is not in a current hot subgenre.
AC: What book did you find recently that you believe will be a hit on the shelves?
DW: Romeo, Romeo by Robin Kaye is one that I think is going to be a hit--because EVERY woman wants a man who's as good in the kitchen as he is in the bedroom!
I'm also really excited about The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary--an Irish tale of deadly deeds and forbidden love. This one is a hot read with a suspense element and a paranormal element and Ireland is an incredible location for the story.
(Aunty blushes, no small feat, and wonders if she mentioned lately how much she LURVES her editor...)
AC: What kind of submission is guaranteed to receive positive attention from you?
DW: A submission that actually follows our submission guidelines is going to get my attention, because, believe it or not, most don't. But really, it's the hook that gets me--so putting that upfront is really helpful.
And--please include you and/or your agent's contact information (phone number essential) on EVERY piece of the submission and on every page is great (a header in a small font works fine).
You can find submission guidelines on Sourcebooks' website: http://www.sourcebooks.com/
AC: What's your strangest submission story?
I once got a submission with a $100 bill paper-clipped to it. I was horrified.
(Aunty is equally horrified! Sven and the cabana boys also gasp.)
AC: I know you will be at RWA National in San Francisco in two weeks. Anything you'd like to add about it?
DW: I'm really looking forward to seeing many of you at RWA. PLEASE, if you see me, please come up and introduce yourself. I want to meet/talk to as many of you as I possibly can.
Our SPOTLIGHT on Sourcebooks is at 11:00 on Saturday morning--please come and meet me and our publisher and get all your questions answered in person!
AC: Oh, you will NOT be Nigella NoFriends, Deb. Rest assured! And I have the Sourcebooks Spotlight highlighted on my color coded agenda (thank you Tawny-Depp)!
And now it's time for everyone to chime in! If you have a question for Deb, please ask away. If you have read any of the Sourcebooks Casablanca romances please give us your opinion. Also, please tell us what subgenres are your favorites and why. Anything you'd like to see more of on the shelves?
Aunty, er, um that is Loucinda McGary and her Sourcebooks sister Marie Sullivan Force will each give away an IOU for their new fall releases. Marie's contemporary romance Line of Scrimmage will hit the shelves on September 1st and Loucinda's The Wild Sight will be out in 75 more days, on October 1st!
UPDATE: Robin Kaye is also generously offering an IOU for Romeo Romeo, another 75 day wait, but WELL WORTH IT!