Breakfast at Tiffany’s Lunch at Saks! (Day at Avon, part three)
I had the great pleasure of having lunch at Saks with Avon editors Tessa Woodward and Esi Sogah. Tessa and Esi are good people to know. Not just because they’re fun, smart, sassy women, but because they read ALL the queries that come to Avon. That’s right – ALL the queries. They take turns – one week, Tessa will read them, and the next week, it will be Esi’s turn. Most of the questions people gave me beforehand had to do with queries and submissions, and Tessa and Esi were happy to dish. Here’s a primer on how NOT to query Avon:
Don’t describe your book in vague terms. (“It’s a thrilling story of love and adventure!”) Be specific about what sets your plot apart and makes your characters unique.
Don’t spend five paragraphs talking about yourself and one paragraph describing your book.
If you get a form letter rejection, don’t write back and accuse them of not reading your query. They read every query. Every. Query.
If you get rejected, don’t write back and tell them they clearly have no taste in books.
Don’t resubmit the same query the next week. They do talk amongst themselves, and they do remember.
Don’t resend the same query addressed to a different editor. As I said, in any given week, they all go to one person.
If you’re asked to submit a partial, don’t obsess about fonts, font size, margins. So long as it’s professional-looking and legible, they don’t really care whether you use Courier 12 or TNR 14 or whathaveyou.
If, after submitting, you discover a tiny typo on page 34 of your partial – don’t write the editor a letter to ‘correct’ it. A few typos aren’t going to make or break your submission. A query riddled with typos doesn’t sit well with them, but if you misspell “the” as “teh” once, it’s no big deal.
If your submission isn’t accepted, don’t give up. Esi said there was an author who submitted two or three manuscripts – she liked the writing, but the projects just weren’t right for Avon. When she needed to fill a spot in an anthology, however, she remembered that writer and gave her a call.
I also asked about trends in romance. Esi said paranormal doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. She said that in historicals, there seems to be a trend toward more heroes and heroines who are “commoners” rather than the ubiquitous lords and ladies. That will be welcome news to several of you, I think!
Lastly, I asked them, “What makes a submission really stand out?”
Their oh-so-specific answer?
“If it’s good.”
So there you go. Write a good book. Then write a good query. Don’t act like a paranoid fruitcake. Hope that helps! *wink*
Oh, and then we talked titles. Evidently, an author has about as much chance of choosing her book’s title as I have of fitting into Audrey Hepburn’s capris. The editors have meetings to bandy around title possibilities. Tessa and Esi’s latest favorite? The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell. Because who wouldn’t be intrigued by that title? A secret passion – yum!
So leave me a comment – your favorite title, perhaps? Or maybe you have another question about submissions I didn’t answer – chances are we might have covered it, and I’ve forgotten to write it here. One commenter will win a copy of The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell, a stylish Avon baseball cap, and – in honor of my 5th Avenue luncheon – a copy of This Little Piggy Went To Prada.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about my conversation with Carolyn Pittis, the marketing brains behind the FanLit competition. She wanted my feedback about the contest, and I want yours!