For Inside the Publishing World Wednesday we are going to get to know Editor Tracy Bernstein. Tracy is currently the Executive Editor at New American Library, a division of Penguin USA. http://nalauthors.com/ She not only acquires new books, but runs their Signet Classics line. I met Tracy at this past summer’s PNWA conference.
What does she acquire? In nonfiction she focuses on the areas of memoir, health and parenting. In fiction she’s interested in women’s lit, romance, cozy mysteries, and erotica. She cautions about queries, “Don’t tell me it’s a nonfiction novel. They don’t exist. Your work is either fiction or nonfiction, not both.”
And if you’re writing a memoir she shared the following, “Memoir is not a collection of stories about your life. That’s ok for your own family, but not necessarily appropriate for general trade.” She also warns that publishers are putting memoirs under a lot of scrutiny now because of past fake memoirs that burned them.
How does she feel about literary fiction vs. genre fiction? “Genre fiction fits in a defined category. Literary fiction is less accessible. But, one is not better than the other. They speak to their own audience.”
How did Tracy enter into the publishing world? At age 19 Tracy was a summer intern at Houghton Mifflin. She fell in love with editing right then and never turned back.
What publishers has she worked for? Tracy has spent time at Pocket, Kensington, Henry Holt, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Who has she published? Among her NYT best selling authors are Montel Williams, Marie Osmond, Wynonna Judd, and Scott Hamilton. She also can boast to being Jane Austin's editor for the Signet Classic line.
What is her advice about sending a query? Follow the submissions guidelines. Make sure you include the word count. And for her personally, she likes it when you mention comp titles to your work.
Will she accepted an unagented manuscript? "Yes."
Where to query? Penguin receives a lot of queries. Please check their website to see what they are accepting at any given time. http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/aboutus/contactus.html#manuscript