Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Q&A with Editorial Consultant Marcela Landres

Marcela Landres
Author of the e-book "How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You"

When I became committed to my journey to publication, one of the first "book people" I heard about was Marcela Landres.  As a former editor at Simon & Schuster, publisher of the award-winning ezine Latinidad, and through learning about her editing expertise first hand by reading her phenomenal ebook "How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You", Marcela quickly rose to the top of the ranks of people publishing whom I greatly admire.

When I found Landres on twitter, I was looking for an editor to assist me on the polishing of my middle grade novel that I had "finished".  Through the wonderful thing which is social media, I reached out to Landres about editing my work.  Although I was extremely disappointed to find out that Landres does not handle middle grade (she works with YA and up) I decided to ask her if she would consider answering some questions for Musings.

I have to admit, Marcela Landres was by far the most intimidating person I've reached out to so far in my work at Musings--and if you've been reading this blog for some time, you've undoubtedly seen that I've been lucky to have many incredibly talented and powerful people participate in interviews and guest posts in this blog.  Why was approaching Marcela Landres so intimidating to me? I don't know yet...it's something I'll have to reflect upon.  However, in reality, Marcela Landres was one of the most generous, kind, and open individuals I have interviewed for this blog, and I'm thrilled to share some of her insights into publishing, agents and editors with you now.  I'll shortly be posting a review about her ebook, but until then, if you are serious about becoming a published writer, purchasing this book will be the best $10 investment you've made in your career (yes, even more so than that moleskine notebook).


Q: Marcela, can you walk us through the publishing process for a writer?

A: Great question! It would take me hours to properly answer it, though. My best advice is to read The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book: Everything You Need to Know in the Order You Need to Know It by Susan Page. After reading it, you will have a realistic understanding of the publishing process. Every writer--even published authors--should read it.

Q: In your opinion, are writers at a disadvantage if they deal with publishers without the assistance of an agent? 

A: Yes. There are several reasons why writers should have an agent, primarily because publishing companies can and do pay smaller advances to unagented authors than to authors who have agents. I can’t tell you exactly how much less money you’ll make without an agent, but I assure you it will be less than what you and your book is worth. 

Q: What services can a writer can expect when working with an editor, and conversely what should raise red flags for a writer?

A: It depends. If you mean an editor at a publishing house, the kind of relationship you will have is often defined by the size of the publishing company and by the company’s expectation of how profitable your book will be. 

At the larger houses, very few authors--the Dr. Phils and Stephenie Meyers of the world--are expected to be hugely profitable. Those authors are given the lion’s share of the publisher’s time, energy, and promotional budget. All other authors will receive, comparably speaking, a minimal amount of handling. In terms of the writing itself, expect your big house editor to invest a weekend of two of her time editing your manuscript; manuscripts that require more substantial editing are usually rejected. 

At the smaller houses, every author is likely to receive much more time and energy than the average author is given at a larger house. The trade-off, however, is that the smaller houses have less money with which to promote your book. On the plus side, editors at smaller houses are more likely to work with you to properly edit your manuscript. Having said this, many talented writers whose sales are too modest for large houses are being snapped up by smaller houses. This is great for small house editors who have their pick of a larger pool of top-notch manuscripts; this is not so great for those of you whose manuscripts need more than a light polish to be ready for publication. 

Alternatively, if you’re really asking what writers can expect from working with a freelance editor, the services are defined by the editor’s experience. There are a lot of freelance editors, but very few of them have worked in the book business, and even fewer have worked in the editorial department of a publishing company. A good editor should not only help you hone your writing craft, she or he should also offer concrete guidance on how to manage your writing career. Reputable freelance editors should have experience:

     1. Working for a book publishing company, not a magazine or newspaper or their school’s literary  journal.
     2. As an acquisitions editor (as opposed to a managing editor, production editor, or any other kind of editor who has not actually acquired books).
     3. Editing the kind of book you’re writing.
 For example, if you write children’s books, the ideal editor would be someone who was an acquisitions editor at a publishing company that published children’s books, and/or has a track record of editing children’s book writers who have gone on to be published.

A freelance editor’s web site should clearly indicate his or her experience and areas of expertise. If not, proceed with caution.

Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You, publishes the award-winning e-zine Latinidad, and is an Editorial Consultant who helps writers get published by editing their work and educating them on the business side of publishing. A member of the Women’s Media Group, she has acted as a judge for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and was formerly an editor with Simon & Schuster. For more information, visit http://www.marcelalandres.com/


  1. Excellent article! Thanks for sharing it! And I really like your musings, chica!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Great interview. Thanks Nilki and Marcela!

  4. As always, Marcela speaks clear words of wisdom. Her mission of helping authors succeed is so admirable and is being accomplished each time she is profiled anywhere. Thanks, Marcela, and continued successes to you in your outstanding work!

  5. I enjoyed reading this interview!

    Especially informative is Marcela's answers about editors.


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