I had the pleasure of interviewing Terri Schaefer from Liquid Silver Books, and today I’m sharing our chat with you all. Terri wears many hats, but the one(s) we are going to talk about today are her roles with LSB. I think both readers and writers will find a little something interesting in this interview. So kick back, relax, and enjoy the read….
Tami’s Thoughts: So you work for a book publisher. That sounds glamorous. Is it?
Terri Schaefer: It can be! I love reading new submissions, especially the ones that just grab me :). Sometimes, not so glamorous, especially when it comes to rejecting someone :(. And obviously, as a publisher that’s been around a bit, we get a bunch of submissions.
TT: Tell us about Liquid Silver Books.
TS: LSB is one of the longest-running e-houses still in existence. We’re getting ready to celebrate our 15th anniversary (under our parent org, Atlantic Bridge Publishing). We only publish romance, so there needs to be a romantic arc, and characters that grab us. We pay quarterly, but give sales updates monthly, so if our authors are working targeted promotions, we can see what works and what doesn’t.
TT: What is your role at LSB?
TS: I’m the acquisitions and editorial director.
TT: As an aside, here’s the definition of each aspect of Terri’s title (from work.chron.com):
Acquisitions editors are responsible for acquiring and developing content that publishers can market profitably. They review unsolicited manuscripts from authors to evaluate the commercial potential of the proposal, or they approach authors to take on projects that the organization wishes to publish. As part of the process, acquisition editors build relationships with authors, authors’ agents and other content producers so that they can identify sources for future projects.
The editorial director is an executive who works with other executives and senior management to plan the overarching vision that encompasses all of the company’s publications. This includes the short-term and long-term goals for the parent company and the individual publications, websites and divisions, as well as the coverage, target audience and tone for each. The editorial director conveys this information to the editors of each publication, site or division. In some cases the editorial director may be the editor of some of the publications.
(And if that sounds like a lot of work – keep reading. This isn’t Terri’s only job!)
TT: Do you read every single submission, from cover to cover?
TS: Alas, no. I read the first chapter, and determine if it’s even a romance (you’d be AMAZED at the number of submissions we get that aren’t romances, or even readable). If it IS a romance, then yes, either myself or one of our readers go through it cover to cover.
TT: How far into a manuscript do you get, generally, before you know it’s a keeper… or not?
TS: If we make it past the first chapter, then I usually will know *after* the third chapter. Honestly, that’s the old-school RWA chick in me… when contests were the “thing,” you honed, refined, and then honed your first three over and over and over again. And then sometimes it fell apart in chapter four. So I often wait to see how we’re going after that.
TT: If it’s not a keeper, do you send form letter rejections?
TS: We don’t. We send form letter rejections for things that aren’t a romance or are obviously not ready for prime time. Everything else gets a personal note that explains why it didn’t fit with our customer base.
TT: How long do you think is too long, for a publisher to decide to keep or reject an author’s work?
TS: We tend to work on a 7-10 day turnaround for house authors, and try for 14ish days for non-house folks. Obviously that is a VERY ambitious turn time :). We meet it a majority of the time, but sometimes life occurs—LOL. That is all a VERY long lead in to my answer, which would be—I see absolutely NO reason for a house to go longer than 30 days with either in/out of house authors. This is my personal opinion only, but given the ever-increasing transparency and tech speed available to everyone, going longer than that might be acceptable to a publisher, but it’s not to the authors that fuel the industry.
TT: As one of those authors, I have to say, I applaud your answer. And as one of YOUR authors, I can testify that LSB’s turnaround time is really quite impressive. Okay, back to the interview. Do you have one crazy/funny story you can share?
TS: Fun for me is when we connect with an author who then becomes one of our long-term house authors. Sorry, I’m kinda unglamorous that way :).
TT: Not unglamorous at all. Everyone needs friends and connections. Especially those who share the same interests. Speaking of friends, do you ever read just for fun?
TS: Oh yeah! I LOVE a whole bunch of indie authors, and have a few standard NY authors on my auto buy list. I find that helps me be objective as I read our subs. This may be over-sharing, but I treasure my tub time where I enjoy a glass of wine and some non-submission reading :).
TT: Not over-sharing. And I highly doubt you are the only reader who enjoys the company of a good book while lounging in the tub. Or a glass of wine, for that matter. Okay, so tell us, what’s your favorite non-reading/editing activity?
TS: I love gardening and finding new ways to improve our 105 year old Colonial.
TT: A woman after my own heart… when I find the time, that is! Here’s another question: why did you choose to work for LSB?
TS: I’ve actually been with LSB since their inception. I was one of their inaugural authors (I also write…yeah, I’m an overachiever :)), and then Linda (our owner) asked me to come on as an editor, and then editorial director. I did that until 2011, and took a break to write and take care of family biz, then came back into the fold. I love reading subs and editing, so even if I were to take a “I wanna write” break in the future, I’d still be doing those things, just on a limited scale. I just love this company that much.
TT: I’m impressed. I think it is awesome when someone loves what they do that much. Do you have any advice for wannabe writers?
TS: Find yourself a critique partner who you trust, and who really scrutinizes your work. Constructive criticism is one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever get.
TT: Excellent advice. Anything you’d advise a writer not do? Anything they definitely should do to help become successful?
TS: While self-pubbing is becoming an increasingly viable option for authors, please, please, please, pay for an editing/proofing service before you put your name on something. It’s one thing for me to read submissions from authors who are in the developing stages…that’s to be expected in a publishing house. But if you’re putting your work out there direct to the reader, it needs to be tight and as close to perfect as it can get, otherwise you risk turning off readers forever.
TT: Again with the excellent advice! Thank you, Terri, for taking the time to chat with me today. This was an informative interview. One last thing before we go – ask a question of our readers. They can respond in the comments below.
TS: As authors, what’s your greatest wish from a publisher? As readers, what’s the one thing you think is most lacking in the e-publishing industry?
TT: Well, that’s it, folks. Although, that was a lot of information to digest. If you’re curious about Liquid Silver Books, this is their website. Readers can buy books directly from the website (including a few of mine!), and if you’re an author interested in submitting your work, all the info you need is right here (just be sure to heed Terri’s advice before submitting!).
Thank you, fair readers, for joining us today. Check back again soon. During the month of November, I’ll be blogging a lot more frequently, as I showcase several of the authors (we call ourselves the Writing Wenches) who are featured in the Unwrapping Love anthology, which comes out on December 1. You can pre-order it for a ridiculous price here. If you want to join our Facebook release party, click here. Our parties consist of lots of author takeovers, a bunch of freebies, and a guaranteed cache of hot guy pics. The Writing Wenches know how to throw a party.
We’ll see you there!