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Better Know an Editor - With Dakota Rebel and Michele Paulin

So I was stumped. My blog date was coming up and I couldn’t think of anything witty to write about. I thought and I thought. “What do people want to know about? What knowledge can I share with readers and my fellow writers?” And then it hit me: Use someone else’s knowledge to make me seem smart and witty. Yay me!

Today I have a special guest with me on my guest appearance at Hitting the Hot Spot. And she has promised not to correct the grammar in my questions.

Michele Paulin is a Senior Editor for Total-e-bound Publishing. She currently has over 25 writers assigned to her and she is a very busy cookie. She is also an incredible editor. My favorite thing about her – She shows me how dumb I am without ever calling me stupid. That’s always nice. For instance, when she edited Kit and Mouse for the Bound Brits Anthology, she just mentioned that my character cannot call herself an “asshole,” then she moved on to the next item at hand. Super nice.

And now it is time for: Better know your Editor with Dakota Rebel and Michele Paulin.

1. Hello there. So I know that I am your favoritest author (mostly because I use words like favoritest and I know how much you love it.) But as far as TEB goes, what kind of writers are they looking for? What are the genres that are “hot” right now?

What’s hot? Right now…ménage is hot. BDSM…M/M...Vampires…Shapeshifters…Older women/younger men. But I’d quickly advise writers not to chase the market. Write a story you’re comfortable writing. If ménage isn’t your ‘thing’, don’t try to write it. To be honest, readers want good stories and they’ll know if you’re faking it.
I don’t decide which books I’ll take based on trends. What’s hot comes and go. What’s in demand this month might not be what readers are looking for next month. By the time you finish writing the next epic shapeshifter story, readers may want something else.
One thing I look for is writers who are already promoting themselves when they send their work. Do they blog? Do they have a website? The ebook market is tough. I need to know a writer is going to get out there and sell him or herself.

2. What elements does a story have to have for you/TEB to offer a writer a contract on it?

Of course, every editor appreciates good writing skills. Beyond that, please send me romances. I prefer a happily ever after or, at very least, a promise of happily ever after. The hero and the heroine should meet early in the story and be together at the end of the book. I want to see strong characters who are heroic and motivated in their actions. And their actions need to lend themselves to a solid plot with steamy sex.

3. I know every writer reading this right now is waiting for this question, so I will bite the bullet early. What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to writers? What do we do that drives you absolutely batsh*t? (I promise if you tell me I won’t do it on purpose….very often.)

Well, this is a landmine of a question…I work with wonderful authors at TEB. They’re a lovely group. As long as you answer emails and don’t act like a diva, we’re all good.
Generally speaking, my pet peeve is when I read a book and the author has failed to get into the characters’ heads. As a reader I shouldn’t have to ask, “What’s he thinking?” or “Why doesn’t she have a reaction to this?” over and over. Again, I’m not speaking about my TEB authors.
(She’s being polite, this is totally about me. My character’s heads are as empty as mine. But see, she is super sweet. In my defense, I am trying to get better at this.)

4. I recently won the Irish, British, AND Nigerian lotteries (The Rebel household is VERY excited.) If you won the lottery what would you do first? What is the very first thing you would buy? (Ok, so this question is for me. Mr. Rebel said he would buy a “Forty” which for anyone who doesn’t know is a forty ounce bottle of terrible beer, usually held inside a brown paper bag to drink, and I told him that was dumb. Now I want to know what everyone would buy first.)

You won those too? What about the Yahoo lottery?
The first thing I’d do if I won a legitimate lottery is faint. Then I’d buy a new house.

Questions from the Peanut Gallery:

5. Kelly Kirch would like to know - What is a “dangling participle” and why is it so bad?

Oh, how to explain…I don’t call these dangling participles in my edits. Usually I’ll say something like, “this says the party is wearing a tutu. Is the party wearing the tutu?” Specifically, a dangling participle causes confusion. It’s when you have an –ing phrase that doesn’t agree with the subject of the sentence. An example: Wearing a tutu, the bachelor party embarrassed Bob.
See where I might ask if the party has on a tutu? Corrected this would be: Wearing a tutu at the bachelor party, Bob was embarrassed.
I think we should leave tutus, Bob and his fetish behind.

6. Molly Daniels wonders - What do you look for in a query letter? How can writers improve on them to make them more appealing to an editor? What are the most common mistakes a writer makes in a query letter and how can they fix it?

There are a few things.
A query letter should be short and well-written. Do not use descriptive writing, just give me the clear-cut facts, using strong nouns and verbs.
I often get letters full of typos, poor grammar and misused words or homonyms. Letters like that don’t inspire much hope on my part. They tell me I’m likely to spend a lot of time on the authors’ manuscripts.
Another query problem is when authors fail to check the publishing house’s guidelines. It doesn’t matter how great your story is. If it’s not erotic romance, I’m not going to take it.
Finally, when I read a query letter, I’d like to know what you’re sending me. Give me a 1-2 paragraph set-up. Then tell me about yourself. I want to know if you’re published, if you have experience, if you’ve been writing for a while, etc. If you’ve won writing awards, by all means tell me, however, I won’t reject you if you have none of those things. Include your blog and/or website addresses if you have them.
Contrary to what an author might think, I do not enjoy rejecting manuscripts. I understand this is a person’s hard work and they’ve put a lot of time into it. When I review any story, I make a list of its good and bad points. If I decide the story should be rejected, I mull it over. Occasionally for days. Why am I rejecting this book and how can I encourage this writer? I don’t use form rejections. I don’t believe any editor at Total-e-bound does. If you receive a rejection from us, look at the information we offer. You can use it to strengthen your writing.

Michele, thank you so much for answering my questions today. I am sure that we have all learned a lot about the kinds of things editors are looking for from their writers. And readers are always curious as to the kind of work writers, editors, and publishers do to get fantastic books in their hands.

Thanks for having me Dakota. Talking about my job is one of my favoritest things in the world. (Did I use your new word correctly, lol?)

Do you have a great novel full of steamy sex and a believable love story, free of dangling participles? If you are a writer looking for a good home with a fantastic erotica publisher I encourage you to check out the TEB site and see what they are looking for right now. Their submission page is always available with full guidelines.

If you are a reader looking for a fantastic erotic love story then Total E Bound is the place to be. I have the good fortune to be listed alongside some fabulous writers at TEB. There are sure to be titles available for any and all romance tastes.

Dakota Rebel


Shermaine said...

Fantastic idea for a blog - interesting as well as useful

Carol Lynne said...

Great interview, Dakota! Although Michele isn't my editor at TEB, she's taught me a great deal. Before she explained commas and their proper use, I used them like confetti. I think that's the mark of a fantastic editor. She not only edits but teaches as well.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Dakota, your posts never fail to get me laughing out loud! But this is also fabulously informative, on top of being entertaining. A big thank you to Michele, and to you!

Molly Daniels said...

Ah...this is why you wanted to know:) Great post, Dakota!

Catherine Chernow said...

Woo hoo! Way to go, Dakota.

Michele is my editor, too, at Totalebound.

You and Michele did a terrific interview blog post - informative and fun.

Dakota, you've got a super witty writing voice.

: )

Catherine Chernow

Dakota Rebel said...

Thanks everybody. I like doing interviews because it seems like I am working, but really Michele did all the work with this one. Yay Michele.

Dakota Rebel

Judith Rochelle said...

Great answers by a great editor. you;re my hero, Michele.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic and very informative interview D! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Michele.

Ashley Ladd said...

Goodie! Now I know how my editor thinks (Brynn is my editor, too). Great interview. I loved it. Thanks!

Lyn Cash said...

awesome post, girl - makes me cringe a bit, though (Chel is MY editor, too - lol) because I know that I'm probably gonna peeve her off (#2) at some point since I drag my heels on narrative. but I'M WORKING ON THAT! - lol

again, good post - and Thanks, Michele, for responding so thoroughly. :)