Publisher Updates

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Dec 11 2008

Daily I am talking with editors, whether via e-mail, on the phone, or over lunch, and catching up on what they are looking for now and what types of things they are having trouble selling either in-house or to readers. And today I’ll pass some of that on to you.

A nonfiction editor at Penguin is very actively looking for fun reference nonfiction. In addition to acquiring business books this editor likes fun reference nonfiction, books like beer guides or wine guides. Books I actually think are fun myself.

A romance editor and a fantasy editor, from two different houses, recently shared with me their frustrations for the paranormal romance market. It’s tough. Most publishers have fairly full lists and to take on something new it has to be remarkably different. While paranormal romance continues to sell, publishers are being very cautious about what they’re taking on.

An editor I’ve worked with for years has a new position at a new company and is very excited to be seeking different projects from what she was doing previously. She is looking for commercial fiction (suspense, thriller, historical, and anything page-turning with terrific characters) and on the nonfiction side she would like to see diet, health, fitness, memoir, and narrative nonfiction, of course all from authors with big platforms.

I had a really fun lunch with a new editor recently. Well, she’s not exactly new, but we have made our first deal together. She’s smart, enthusiastic, and we ate dessert! She’s looking for all kinds of mysteries from cozies to medical thrillers to all kinds of thrillers.


17 responses to “Publisher Updates”

  1. Avatar linda hall says:

    Well darn. I write para and obviously missed that market. 🙁 Oh well, like anything else the writing world can be very cyclical, I’m gonna continue writing what I love and I’m sure eventually para will be the next hot thing. It is a bummer though.

  2. Linda, Kathleen is right. It just means you have to have a fresh take on paranormal, or write such amazing characters that an editor will buy and fall in love with your voice. At the end of the day you need to write what you love. When my agent was getting ready to pitch my paranormal, she told me it wasnt’ going to be a slam dunk because the lists were so full already….it would come down to the book and the story and finding an editor that loved it. I was lucky, and we sold in September….but not once did I consider writing another genre….I love paranormal and I think it’s here to stay….it’s just that the bar has been raised to an even higher standard, which I think is a good thing. Good luck with your work!

  3. Avatar Parker Haynes says:

    While attempting to write to the “market” has its attractions, and certainly may be the route for some writers, I have my doubts.

    I honestly believe most of us produce better work when we WRITE FROM THE HEART! Only if you have a deep emotional connection with both your characters and your story can you hope to evoke in the reader that ever-important “Powerful Emotional Experience.”

    Just my opinion.

  4. Avatar Jeanie W says:

    How about writing a paranormal romantic mystery?

  5. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Parker, that’s exactly the way I feel. A good story comes from deep within. If you don’t love what you are writing, it won’t be that special book the publishers are looking for. Linda, keep on writing your paranormals if that’s what you love. Juliana, I also totally agree with you paranormal is here to stay. The publishers are going to hurt themselves if they steer away from paranormal because they think it’s a fad. Everyone I know, young and old, are reading paranormals. It’s a way to get away. Who wants to read about stuff they see everyday. Well I’m sure there are some people, but we have the soaps and the news for that. (Yuck). Anyway I love paranormals and fantasy, they make the imagination stir, make you young. I would like to see less sexuality in the younger books and older for that matter. Let me use my imagination, I’ve got a good one, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a mom. My teen daughters feel the same way. GO LINDA!

  6. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    FYI, I read this blog for the terrific comments from the other readers as much as for Jessica’s posts. As a writer, I think you can tell when the story works, no matter what the genre. You know, the ones that just seem to write themselves, where it all clicks in your head and you have a perfectly clear visual of every scene? THAT’S the book you want to send out to an agent or an editor. *sigh* I just wish they happened more often that way…

  7. I’m really glad to see this responsibility toward the paranormal market. While it’s a bummer for anyone not doing anything fresh enough for current buying trends (and it’ll be hard for those authors to know if they make the grade if they don’t send stuff out, possibly keeping them from a better, fresher idea), it’s also nice to see a reluctance to saturate the market as thoroughly as, say, chick lit did.

    Kudos to the publishers for this move. And thanks to you, Jessica, for passing this news on.

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Great news that editors are still seeking new books, esp after last week’s publishing fall-out. Now if you agents would only get back to us ASAP on our requested partials/fulls before the next trend or wave of depressing economic down-turns…We don’t stop reading or writing just because the economy sucks–in fact, it propels us to read or write even more!

  9. Avatar Dara says:

    Thanks for the update! It’s nice to know that I have a chance still…and that historical fiction is still sought after!

    Even if it was something that editors didn’t want any more of, I would still write it because it’s my passion. So, even though it can be disheartening to those writing paranormal I would still keep writing! Never give up 🙂

  10. Avatar Jessica says:

    Yum. Dessert is a good sign. 🙂

  11. Avatar Kathleen Peacock says:


    I could be misreading, but I wouldn’t take that as you missing the market… merely that you may have to bring something unique to the table in terms of story and characters if you are planning on coming into it after the swell. While I don’t read para-romance, it seems to have established itself as an actual sub-genre rather than a fad.

    This is all pure speculation.

    Don’t feel bad. I’m getting ready to shop a collection of vignettes despite frequently reading that short story collections don’t sell.

  12. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Editors want different, but most agents seem to be stuck in the same-old mode with paranormal.

    Even with a sold publishing background and major awards in PNR, I can’t get an agent to look at my series because it doesn’t have vamps, weres, and a Buffy clone.

    Catch 22 lives.

  13. Avatar Helen Ginger says:

    Well, this was nice. Editors still acquiring. Makes me smile.

    Thanks Jessica.

  14. Avatar Linda Hall says:

    awww, I come back to read the posts and see all the wonderful support! 🙂

    I actually did understand that paras are not being bought for the simple fact that they are a para. Which is wonderful on the one hand because oversaturating anything is a bad thing, but on the other hand agents and editors might be a tad more jaded when a para comes across their desk and that’s mostly my worry. Will para writers get a fair shake or will someone see it, cringe, and cry “next!”

    But yes, for better or worse para/fantasy are my passions and I will likely write them until the breath leaves my body. 🙂

    Though it’s always good to hear what’s hot and what’s not in the market. Not because I’ll change what I write, but because I do like to know what I’ll likely see more of in the future.

  15. Avatar Anonymous says:

    The biggest thing that screams amateur in these posts is the endless fussing over what’s hot right now and the hyper-classification of genres. “I don’t know if I should submit my para because it doesn’t have a were in it!” lOLOL omg maybe it’s time to take a step back from your perpetual “WIP” and actually think for yourself for a few minutes.

  16. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Anon 9:59
    You speak like you want us to believe you’re a seasoned published author (it’s impossible to tell, you’ve left no clues what so ever. No advice, no name, just a heartless comment). So what if some of the people blogging on this site are unpublished. Doesn’t mean they haven’t wrote something wonderful. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you really are such a proffessional, maybe somewhere in the back of your brain you can find some compassion and remember what it was like when you started writing. The unknowns are scary. You think for yourself when you are writing, and write with your heart, from there it’s in someone elses hand. Maybe it would be better for you to give constructive advice if you are such a professional, instead of just criticism. Or maybe your worried about your career being bitten by these amateurs.

  17. Avatar Anonymous says:

    The advice is, in fact, in there.