Editor Interview with Leis Pederson

We’d like to welcome Leis Pederson of Berkley, a division of Penguin USA to Liberty States Fiction Writers’ blog.

Liberty’s members and blog readers would love to get to know a bit about you. Can you tell us a little about your: background, what inspired you to be an editor, how long you’ve been an editor, what types of books your handle, which authors do you edit, and maybe something a little unexpected.

I come from a Clinical Psychology background and made the move into editing for the simple reason that I love books. I’ve been in publishing for over three years now and I have had the pleasure of working with authors such as Michael Walters, Kimberly Frost, Beth Kery, Nancy Haddock and Christine Wells. I currently edit all kinds of romance, erotic romance, women’s fiction, mysteries and thrillers.

An author first has to submit his or her manuscript to you in order for their story to be considered for acquisition. Do you accept unagented manuscripts? If so how do you prefer to be queried?

We generally prefer agented submissions but for those who don’t have an agent we ask that you send a brief synopsis and the first three chapters including a brief description of the plot, previously published works (if applicable), as well as any other pertinent information.

Let’s talk a little about the querying process. What intrigues you to want to see more of a story? What about either the story description or the query letter itself would quickly turn you off of a story? Is there something you haven’t seen that you would love to see in a submission?

I’m always looking for something unique that will make a submission really stand out from the rest, whether that is the voice or the story itself. I really hate getting submissions riddled with errors. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

Based on a query letter or pitch, you ask to see a partial.  You love it, ask for the complete, but eventually reject the manuscript.  What are the top reasons for a manuscript’s rejection in such a scenario?

Each circumstance is unique so it’s really hard to generalize.

Can you tell us a how the acquisition process works at Berkley? If you read a manuscript and love it can you acquire it? Is it a committee that decides what books to purchase based on your recommendations? What is the response time on queries? Partials? Completes?

The process varies. Sometimes it goes to committee and sometimes maybe just one other editor will read it along with me. Our response time for all requested submissions is approximately 6 months.

You’ve acquired a novel and it’s moving along the path to release. In order for the book to do well there is going to need to be some promotion and marketing. How involved are you in coming up with a marketing plan. Do authors who submit manuscripts along with solid marketing plans have a better chance of acceptance than a good manuscript with no marketing plan?

We have wonderful publicity, marketing and promotions departments that work with our authors to ensure that each book gets the attention it deserves.

Clearly editors are very busy individuals. What do you like to do when you want to turn off the editor for a little while?

Believe it or not, I like to read something just for fun. No editing hat required.

If there was one piece of advice you could give to writers what would it be?

Just keep writing!

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