We are very lucky to have a huge number of industry professionals attending the RNA conference in Leeds this year – agents, publishers and editors – and over the coming weeks, we will be hearing from them about what they do and what they are looking for from their one-to-one sessions with RNA members over the weekend of the conference in July.
Today, we welcome Katie Seaman, who is an editor at Ebury Publishing. So, over to you, Katie.
1. Please could you start by telling us what your current role is and what it involves?
I’m an Editor at Ebury, which is part of Penguin Random House UK. We’re home to authors including Rowan Coleman, Mandy Baggot and Sheila Norton. My role is really varied as I work on books from acquisition to publication – editing manuscripts, briefing cover designers, writing copy and planning publication campaigns with our marketing, publicity and sales colleagues. I’m currently looking to bring new authors to the list so I love reading exciting submissions from agents and meeting aspiring writers with a great idea.
2. What type of submissions are you personally looking for at the moment?
Top of my wishlist is finding some escapist fiction – a fun holiday romance in a picturesque location. I’m always on the lookout for funny and relatable voices, and novels that feel fresh and different so if that sounds like your novel I’d love to read it.
3. Is there anything you or your publishing house wouldn’t accept right now?
We want to find brilliant commercial fiction – it could be a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy or a heart-warming, epic love story. We also love quirky characters that leap off the page and stay with you after reading. That’s quite a broad brief but I’m afraid anything outside of that probably wouldn’t be quite the right fit for our list.
4. RNA members are sending you only their first chapter and a synopsis. Can you give them any tips on how to grab your attention in such a short submission?
I think it all begins with your cover letter. If you can write a strong pitch for your novel that summarises the concept in a sentence or two that will grab my attention straight away, especially if it’s a novel with an emotional dilemma at its core. With the first chapter, don’t spend too long setting the scene and try to really bring your characters to life so I immediately engage with them.
5. And what about the synopsis? Do you have any tips for writing a really good one?
I’d try to be as succinct as possible, writing no more than two pages. Focus on the key events that shape the story – watershed moments and how these impact on the characters. Emotional development of characters and relationships are pivotal so concentrate on this rather than getting bogged down in insignificant details.
6. What are you most looking forward to doing over the conference weekend aside from your one-to-one sessions?
It’s my first time at the conference so I’m really looking forward to attending some interesting panels and meeting lots of new people.
7. Can you tell us the last published book you read which you really enjoyed and why?
I just read Days of Wonder by Keith Stuart which I thought was beautiful. It’s definitely a book that gives you all the feels, it made me laugh and cry. It had real heart to it and I loved that it focused on a father-daughter relationship which felt different and refreshing.