I'm back with another interview! This time I'm visiting Krystal Wade, the Young Adult and New Adult Acquisitions Editor from Curiosity Quills Press. Not only is Krystal an amazing writer (see below), she is deeply committed to her job in acquisitions. She considered submissions carefully and agonizes about her choices. In most cases, Curiosity Quills sends personalized rejections (at least for now! They can't make any promises as their slushpile grows) and is open to working with writers whose manuscript has promise but still needs work. Krystal is approachable and nice to work with...and I should mention that she reads books faster than anyone I have ever met!
1) Tell me a little bit about a day in the life of a acquisitions editor:
One word: BUSY. I'm not sure what every other acquisitions editor's life is like, but it's not just about reading and making decisions on books. We have to craft thoughtful rejection letters, or find a way to tell people we liked their story but we want them to "fix" it before publication, and then there's the pleasure of making people's day (and then answering a bunch of excited emails about the contract procedures)!
I labor over submissions. Sometimes I put off making decisions until I've at least voiced my opinions/concerns with a couple other staff members of Curiosity Quills. You see, opinions of books are subjective. What one of us may like, the other may hate. So, I attempt to get everyone on board with my decisions. Curiosity Quills does everything as a team!
2) What do you like most about your job? What don't you like?
What I like most is also what I don't like the most. I'm always reading. As a writer, this makes balancing everything that much more difficult. I do believe my time spent reading queries has given me a lot of examples of what "not" to do when subbing to a publisher, and at the same time, I feel like I've read so many soon-to-be best sellers. There are even a few authors who've rejected us that I occasionally stalk. (You know who you are!)
At the end of the day, I'm satisfied. That's all that matters.
3) What are some of the most common query mistakes you see? Any particular pet peeves?
Most common query mistakes . . . hmm. This is a tough one. I'm kind of funny when it comes to my "procedures". I don't really read the query letter until after I've read the first page or so of the manuscript. I do this because I've read some fantastic queries and then been majorly bummed by the writing. I've also read some horrible queries and then the writing pleasantly surprised me. However, the writing is what's important, right?
As for the first few pages, what I look for is plot/voice/style/editing (in that order). If your story is riddled with so many punctuation, spelling, etc errors and I can't "see" the story, I'm going to reject. But if you have a good plot and a nice voice, I'm willing to overlook a lot of editing problems. We have people who can fix that, and mechanics can be taught.
However, I have two pet peeves, and neither have to do with the writing: If I take the time to write a personalized rejection letter, don't yell at me when you don't get what you want. You'll surely never get published with a bad attitude. And if take the time to read over your manuscript, offer you a contract with slight editing modifications, and start working with you to make those changes, don't (and I repeat: don't) announce through a widely-used website that you've signed with a DIFFERENT publisher without at least first giving me notice.
4) What do you wish you saw more of in your inbox?
I'd love to see more New Adult. I like teenagers, I really do, but fifteen/sixteen seems to be the going age. How about twenty-two? How about someone just out of college, trying to figure out what they want to do with their life while being blasted by a laser-beam of death . . . or something.
5) How do you know when you've found a project that you're going to offer a contract to?
Gosh. This is always such an exhilarating thing. I just KNOW. I read the book, and I can't stop. I read it and say "WOW. I wish I wrote this." I get nervous, and start thinking of all the ways the writer may say no. I know, right, the publishers actually worry. Who knew?
Once it hits me, and it's usually within the first fifty pages or so, I start looking at the story differently. What needs editing, who should edit, will the author want to sign with us, etc. I even dream up cover ideas, and no one has taken my advice yet. Boo. I come up with fantastic cover ideas, really I do.
Anyway, then I search out the author. Do they have a web presence. Are we going to spend a bunch of money on an author who cares not for self-promotion? I've even been known to nudge a few authors. ;-)
Then, I write an epic e-mail (length depends on what the author actually needs), and bite MY nails!
6) Curiosity Quills asks that you don't include writing credits or awards in your query. Why not?
Does a degree in Creative Writing mean you're a good writer? Maybe, but why don't we let the words speak for themselves? You can tell me you sold 1.5 million copies of your last book on Amazon in a week, but that was the last book. You can be a member of hundreds of writing community sites, but does that mean the novel you are submitting is going to be a winner? No. Probably not.
We don't want to get our hopes up only to be let down when we start reading. This happens; trust me. So, rather than drool over awards, degrees, follower counts, etc, we read. If the book moves us, we accept it.
Krystal, thank you so much for taking the time to share those thoughtful answers! If you have more questions for her, please post them in comments. If you'd like to submit to Krystal, check out the submission guidelines.
As I mentioned earlier, Krystal is also an author! Her debut novel, Wilde's Fire (Darkness Falls), was released in May and the next novel in the series, Wilde's Army is coming out on 7/4! To celebrate, she'd like to giveaway a couple of cool prizes. If you've already read Wilde's Fire, that's okay, we also have a Wilde's Army swag package with magnets and posters AND a digital ARC of Wilde's Army.