Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Your Questions For the Editor

Forensics and Faith will soon be running an interview with Sue Brower, senior fiction acquisitions editor at Zondervan. (This is in response to your suggestions from last December of interviewing editors/agents in the industry.) When I first approached Sue, I didn’t know that another wonderful blog, Novel Journey, was about to run a two-part interview with her. I held off, figuring our two blogs could work in tandem. When Sue’s interview ran on NJ, I gave you all the links to click over and read it.

So … now I suggest that you read it again. Because I am asking you to supply me with follow-up questions you’d like to ask Sue. This is a unique opportunity. Usually we read an interview and wonder, “What did she mean by that?” or “Wish she’d have taken that answer a little further…” Now here’s your chance for some dialogue. Or maybe you want to pose the burning question she was never asked.

Remember that, before becoming fiction acquisitions editor, Sue was the marketing guru at Z for a long time. So she’s highly qualified to answer questions in both categories.

Part 1 of Sue’s interview is
here. Part 2 is here. Or you can simply go to NJ’s January archives and scroll down to dates Jan. 8 and 9. Please remember to come back to Forensics and Faith and leave your follow-up questions in the comments. Don’t be shy about posing hard ones!


Eden said...

Thanx for the links, Brankilyn. I'm going to go check them out. How have you been? We're doing alright over here. Steve will be leaving in less than 2 weeks. :-(

Kristy Dykes said...

Thanks, B., for bringing us an interview with Sue. And thanks, Sue, for taking your time to "talk" to us at F&F. We appreciate it.

I follow Novel Journey regularly. I'm trying to glean as much as I can about this vast business, and NJ is a good place to learn some things. I'd already read your interview there; it was full of interesting and informative things.

You said, "(Zondervan is going to be) a company that takes advantage of new opportunities, trends, and fresh voices in fiction."

K: Do you have any idea what those new opportunities, trends, and fresh voices are? Or will you simply know them when you see them? Any insight into this?

Again, thanks so much.

PatriciaW said...

"Zondervan fiction...will appeal to the core Christian market." Although I have an idea, can you clarify "core Christian market"?

Anonymous said...

Karen Ball just stated that most authors' ideas of how to market their work are usually not successful and/or generally don't work, yet that question is repeatedly asked of new authors at every application. How should a new author know what will work for his/her book since marketing techniques seem to be in flux right now with internet exposure and "gimmicks"/ideas?
Also, realistically sales reflect interest, but how many times do readers buy a book and then are disappointed? That statistic is difficult to compute. It seems that publishers, like movie producers, keep repeating what appears to work until it's worn out. Is there a genuine interest by publishers today to stretch the "formula" for "successful" novels? And by that I refer to length and material in that "fresh" Christian voice?

Eden said...

Hey Brandilyn! Steve is leaving on the 29th of January for BMT (basic military training). He'll be at BMT for almost 7 weeks, then he's off to Monterey for school. That's when Olyvia and I will join him.
We're going to miss him alot until we're reunited in CA.
Your prayers will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for stopping by!!

Anonymous said...

Sue spoke of a "category strategy" in her previous interview. What does that mean exactly, and how do authors fit into that?

Also, what advice would she give to a writer of ETP (easy to place :) ) books who'd like to publish a breakout novel?

What does Z use when looking at previous sales figures before acquiring authors?

Karen said...

Karen Ball said in part 2 that aspiring writers should go down the to easy-to-place (ETP) road but cautioned "THE ONE THING TO KEEP IN MIND! Don’t expect that your fans will automatically follow you to that big epic. These are two different consumers and the fan of shorter, sweet romances may not have the time, interest, or patience for an epic. They may follow, but you can’t expect all of them to."

My concern and QUESTION: In an industry where first impressions are so important and where writers are quickly labeled and threw into a genre bin, couldn't this path hurt a writer's "street cred" for the genre their heart is really in?

Also, people tend to see writers and entertainers as what they first present themselves as, i.e. an actor who then wants to be a singer...do you have any hard facts or clear examples of where an author made a successful transition from writing ETPs to their desired genre or style? If so, does the bigger picture of the literary field concur with this mode to success?

*Brandilyn, thanks for asking and Karen, thanks for taking the time to answer.

p.s. Brandilyn, you have the best author's blog out there in my opinion...keep on rocking!!

William G. said...

Thanks, Brandilyn, for the opportunity! If it's not too late, I've got a whole bunch of questions that I should probably keep to myself.

First, going along the lines of the emergent fiction post that precedes this, is there any room in CBA (or more specifically at Zondervan) for Christian writers whose tone is somewhat dark?

Second, along the lines of easy to place work--what type of theological statements makes a contemporary fiction piece easy to place in today's market? Does one's work need to be overtly spiritual in order to be considered ETP? Does a lack of spirituality make a book harder to place within CBA?

Finally--and I ask this out of morbid curiosity--if an NYT bestselling mainstream author along the lines of John Grisham were to approach you and express a desire to write the same kind of stories that have populated the NYT bestsellers list but without any profanity or any otherwise objectionable content, would you be interested? If so, how would the development track of that author go? Would Zondervan maintain his/her presence in the general fiction isle of secular bookstores or would their work become Christian fiction by default? Is that choice even in Zondervan's hands or is it up to the individual booksellers and/or the buyers for those booksellers?