Submitting your manuscript to a publisher can be a frightening and confusing adventure. Lynn West, Editor in Chief of Dreamspinner Press, shares her advice on what publishers look for and how you can prepare.

Don’t miss the giveaways from our #IndieMonth2017 sponsors at the bottom of this article!

 

Sue “DaVinciKittie” Brown-Moore: Lynn, thank you so much for joining us today! Dreamspinner is one of my favorite publishers as a reader, and I’m excited to be working with you as a freelance editor now as well. I’m looking forward to your publisher-perspective insight in this interview for all the new and aspiring authors out there! Welcome to the 2017 Indie Celebration! ❤

Lynn West: Thank you for the invite to take part!

LOVE this shot of Dreamspinner Press Editor in Chief Lynn West!


“How do I get published?”

Sue: The biggest question in a new or aspiring author’s mind is often, “How do I get published?” That’s a big, overwhelming topic, so let’s target some specifics. At Dreamspinner, what are the top qualities you look for in a submitted manuscript? How can an author stand out from the depths of the slush pile?

Lynn: I want my attention hooked on page one, ideally, or at least in the first chapter. If I’m not interested in going on, readers won’t be either. A slow build doesn’t mean a slow start to a story. Snappy dialogue and strong characterizations are very important. These elements right off will help a manuscript float to the top of the pile.

Sue: Once a manuscript has been acquired for a Dreamspinner publishing arm, what happens next? What can an author expect from the editing process, and how long do stories typically spend in the various phases of development?

Lynn: Our current Editorial Production process, from the start of editing through publication, is approximately twenty-two weeks. This varies based on length of manuscript, author availability for edits, the manuscript’s genre, etc. Editing takes several rounds of work, including in-depth macro development, structural review, copy editing, and proofing, as well as design checks and final file reviews. We provide our authors with a full Editorial Production Guide up front that explains all the steps they’re involved and what they can expect.

Dreamspinner Press’ current Editorial Production process, from the start of editing through publication, is approximately twenty-two weeks.

Sue: What are some things you’ve found often surprise or challenge new authors when working with the Dreamspinner team toward a release date?

Lynn: I am continually surprised when authors think editing is a snap of the fingers and done. It’s a multi-level process and a lot of hard work. You can’t expect your manuscript will just coast through. Anything can be made stronger, and authors need to be willing to accept and work for that. When an author is resistant to all suggestions for improvement, it’s a big red flag. So I ask authors to try very hard to keep an open mind.

Sue: What advice do you have for authors seeking publication through a publisher? Any cautions? Words of wisdom? Best practices you can pass on?

Lynn: Put your best foot forward. Be professional from Day 1: Don’t send a casual mail full of typos to Submissions. Definitely find betas for your manuscript before submission, if not a full editor on your own for some thorough polishing. Research the company before you submit and be sure your manuscript fits the content guidelines. Contact the publisher and ask if they have an Editorial Production Guide you can read. Talk to authors who already work with that publisher. The more information you can get up front, the better.

Definitely find betas for your manuscript before submission, if not a full editor on your own for some thorough polishing.

Sue: Are any of the Dreamspinner imprints looking for new manuscripts right now? How can interested authors submit for consideration?

Lynn: While we have closed general submissions to the public, the Dreamspun category romance lines are open and all submissions are welcome. Authors can submit complete manuscripts to submissions@dreamspinnerpress.com or they may send pitches to me directly at lynnwest@dreamspinnerpress.com. There are also occasional open calls posted on our Publish With Us page, such as the States of Love and World of Love collections, and any special anthologies.

Authors can submit complete manuscripts to submissions@dreamspinnerpress.com or they may send pitches to me directly at lynnwest@dreamspinnerpress.com

Sue: Lynn, thank you so much for sharing your insight today. Best wishes to all the authors out there submitting to Dreamspinner. I’ll be looking for some new faces in the upcoming releases!

Lynn: Thank you, I hope some authors read this and decide to submit fresh manuscripts.

About Lynn West

Lynn West is one of the founders of Dreamspinner Press and was one of the first two editors employed by the press in January 2007. She was named Editor in Chief in January 2009. She has edited the work of more than a hundred authors, including many of the bestsellers in Dreamspinner’s catalog.
Before and during the early years of Dreamspinner, Lynn worked as a professional editor in fiction, nonfiction, journalism, and technical writing and was a fiction and nonfiction author, a public relations writer, and an award-winning print journalist before that, thus racking up twenty years of publishing experience as of January 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in modern languages and a master’s degree in management, as well as a variety of advanced educational and training certifications.

All that boring stuff aside, Lynn’s love of reading and writing comes thanks to a dissolute youth spent devouring Science Fiction Book Club tomes from her dad’s bookshelves. Her nickname is the Wicked Witch West, though her flying monkeys (staff) insist that “wicked” is a good thing in gay romance.

Giveaways!

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  • Authors: Share one of your publishing adventures and what you learned from your experience. Or, what questions do you still have about the publishing process?
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