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Notes from the Editor

Editor Notes

Recently I was asked to join Baen Books, a major speculative fiction company, as a consulting editor. In order to save time for both me and for authors, I’d like to tell you what I’m searching for.

First, I’ve been asked to look for epic fantasy in particular, along with adult science fiction.

I personally love young adult and middle grade novels, but those aren’t for us. We also won’t be looking for fantasy or science fiction that acts as a romantic crossover. That’s not what our readers expect of us.

So, when I talk about epic fantasy, I’m interested in finding authors who write in the vein of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Patricia McKillip, or similar writers. You can probably best learn about my tastes by reading some of my own fantasy in the Runelords series, though you can get more of a taste by reading some of my books on writing, I suppose.

I love books with great, original worldbuilding. I want tight plots and writers with a great ear for voice. I demand intriguing magic systems or uses of technology. I want ideas that are original, not ones that are worn.

As for science fiction, I’m interested in military SF (with either male or female protagonists), adventure SFtime travel, or other mainstream genres.

I also love humor and feel that the field really needs some great humorists.

Not much of a fan of horror.

So that’s pretty much it.

What I expect from you.

Query Letter

When you query me, I’ll look closely at your query letter first. I’ll want a strong logline, one that lets me know where and when the story takes place, who the main character is, what the main conflict is, and one that convinces me that the basic concept of the novel is fresh and compelling.

In the second paragraph of the query letter, I’ll want to know more about your book. Simply write a one-paragraph summary meant to sell the book to anyone—to me, to my bosses, to the marketing department, and so on.

In the third paragraph of the query letter, tell me about yourself. What makes you different from other writers in your genre? Convince me that you’re a major writer: one who loves to write, one who has been studying the field, one who knows what he or she wants. You don’t have to have won awards or be a bestseller. You don’t need to have published at all. In fact, I’m particularly interested in fresh, new, undiscovered authors. I’ll be looking at submissions, but I’ll also be watching for them as I read stories for Writers of the Future, or when I look at writing submissions for my classes.

Synopsis

You will of course need to provide a short synopsis of the book—about 1-3 pages, along with an opening chapter of five to 20 pages in standard format. Again, this synopsis is a marketing document to convince the publisher to buy the book and sales department to promote it. So it had better be amazing.

And that’s it. That’s all I need from you.

What to expect from me.

The question becomes, what should you expect from me?  You should know that I’ve been asked to submit an author every six months to a year. I already know dozens of good writers that I believe could be major talents, but my job is to find “the One,” the person who stands out as a probably major talent.

I won’t find that person in the next two weeks. I’ve been asked to look at dozens (more like hundreds) of good books and find the person that I believe in the most. This means that it will take some time. Even if I find ten excellent candidates between now and July 1, I won’t pull the trigger on this until July 2nd.

I already know one of my candidates, but I’m waiting to see how this person handles the pressure of knowing that I like them for this kind of job.

Upon hearing this, perhaps you will understand why it takes editors so long to respond to a submission. I had an editor once who told me that she read from the slush piles for two years before her boss allowed her to pick a novel that she loved—one that she’d loved for well over a year.

I won’t take that long, but just be forewarned.

When I do love your work, I will let you know. I will also let you know when I will be making a decision, and so on.

An editor’s job isn’t just to select great novels, though. I’ll also be working with the author on a regular basis to help them write better and faster, with more direction, and then after the sale, I’ll work to boost those sales by seeking out great critical reviews and seeking for ways to promote the book.

What should you do now?

So, if you’re interested in submitting to me, just send the query package to mystorydoctor@gmail.com. Please know that it will take a few weeks for me to respond.

Angie Hodapp

Tonight on Apex!

Join the Apex-Writers Group, and you’ll get to meet and interact with experts like Angie Hodapp, a literary agent for Nelson Literary Agency. Or, you can watch hers and all other past videos!

Angie has written books, created classes, and developed videos–all to help writers take their craft and storytelling to the next level. She has been a special guest at Superstars Writing Seminars on multiple occasions. She’s extremely good at what she does, and she even wrote the book on how to perfectly craft your queries to editors. It’s called Query Craft: The Writer in the Know Guide to Getting Your Manuscript Requested.

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