Thursday, June 21, 2007

Market Update

I’ve been a busy little bee the last week or so and hope I can remember all that I learned.

One of the best things about meeting editors for lunch is how much you can learn. Sure it’s about connecting, networking, and getting to know each other on a more personal level. But it’s also about getting a better understanding of a house or an imprint. During a wonderful lunch with an editor at Wiley I was told some distinctions between their separate imprints that I had never heard before. Suddenly it all made sense! It’s amazing how one person can put it into perspective.

Unlike a lot of houses where editors can buy pretty much anything across the board, Wiley focuses on keeping their editors specialized. They have someone for business, someone for health, and someone for current affairs, rather than three people buying everywhere. This particular editor’s focus is almost entirely on health titles, the more specific the better. Like a lot of editors doing health books, she likes things to be "disease-specific." It seems that few people will buy books on general issues, but the minute you get kidney stones, diabetes, or heart disease, look out. Suddenly you’re a health book buyer. One thing she sees as an up-and-coming trend in this area are brain health books, which I thought sounded interesting. She would like to see more of these. And then, in an odd switch, she told me that she also really likes pop science books like our own The Medical Science of "House, M.D." The kind of books science lovers read for fun.

In other news, and other genres, an editor from St. Martin’s Press is newly acquiring mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. Her preferences are more along the lines of Louise Penny or a younger, more modern Mary Stewart. Since she’s younger herself it’s not a surprise she prefers those over someone like Lillian Jackson Braun (her words). She likes traditional mysteries but doesn’t fall in love with the hooks that so many cozies have these days, things like recipes or cross-stitching patterns. And of course she’s always looking for something darker or more psychological, which seems to be a common theme.

And in a recent conversation with a Berkley editor I heard an oft-repeated request: women’s fiction. Every editor I talk to wants to see more women’s fiction. Of course it has to be really well written and different. If you’re going to tap into the same old stories—the older woman who’s cheating husband finally leaves, domestic violence, the death of a loved one, etc.—you need to do it with a new hook and some pizazz. Not an easy request.

—Jessica

7 comments:

Reid said...

I wonder how long each editor lasts with each specialization. That would have to be like eating your favorite meal everyday. After a while, you'd need a change.

That's good news they're looking for new mysteries. Quick question, it never seems that I can fit my first novel into a single category, so I fall back on the old "commercial fiction" label. Should I try and explain ("a Southern comedy mystery") or compare ("in the vein of 'It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World' unfolding in the landscape of Wal-Marts, redneck bars, and trailer parks"), or just let the general label stand on its own?

It does make it hard to find the right prospects for representation.

Mark Terry said...

This is probably not the forum for this question, but do have a need for nonfiction writers with medical and science backgrounds to ghost and/or collaborate for health and/or science books?

barb said...

Any news about YA?

Emilie said...

I love your blog! I was so happy to see the editor's interest in popular science books, because I recently sent a popular science proposal to Kim.

Lois Peterson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lois Peterson said...

This is heartening news, and useful, too.

I've shelved my women's novel 'Who Do You Wish Was With Us' for the moment to work on a couple of linked children's novels. But I'd not thought of actually pitching
'WDYW" as a 'women's novel'. I'll think of doing so if there's a real identified need for them. I usually pitch it as a mainstream/literary novel.

Thanks for all the useful info in your blog.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is wonderful. Can you tell me how long it usually takes for editors to get back to you regarding a manuscript? At what point will you send a status request? Thanks for all the great information!