Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Melissa Frain- Tor Books Editor

Let's get to know Tor Editor Melissa Frain. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the 2014 LDS Storymakers conference.

What does she want?- Right now she is looking for YA horror. Some of her favorites stories include the novel, Anna Dressed in Blood, the TV show Supernatural and any gory, creepy psychological thrillers. She wouldn't mind a story about a ghost ship or a historical fantasy set on the Oregon Trail.

Regarding her publisher, she told us that Tor is "looking for exceptional that we can't put down." She mentioned that it only takes 50-100 pages to know if they want something.

How does she decide?- Melissa asks herself, "Could I put this down and never think of it again? Reject. Can't wait to get back to it? Accept.

Her advice to aspiring writers?- If you are going to pitch a novel, wait until it is all done. She doesn't want to hear back a  few months later that there is a new revision.

She went on to explain the "life of a book" as it goes through her hands.
First, she has to find the book. Tor takes only agented submissions, but they so have a slush pile for when unasked for manuscripts arrive. She told us, "I have never bough a book that I didn't love personally." During this acquisition stage she gets second opinions and asks colleagues their opinions. If she think it might sell, she takes the book to the P & L meeting where the publisher figures out what the book might earn and what they can pay the author up front. If the publisher agrees with her findings, then she makes an offer to the agent.

The second phase is the editorial stage. Melissa says that she reads the book a minimum of three times. First at the time of submission to get a first impression. She mentioned that she actually doesn't want to know the plot twists ahead of time or the ending. She wants to read it like a regular reader would.

Next is the editorial read. Here she looks for overall content issues, pacing, characters making sense, and overall reactions. She then writes up a 4-10 page editorial letter that lays out the problems and give suggestions for changes. She leaves the changes up to the author though.

The third read through is of the revised manuscript. Usually a lot of time has past and it's like reading it again from a fresh perspective At this time she line edits and rearranges sentences and paragraphs.

After the editorial stage, the book enters the Production stage. Melissa says that the editor takes a middle man station here while the cover artists, content reviewers and proof readers take their turns. Then it goes to print.

You can follow Melissa on Twitter @Frain.

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