Francesca Main, commissioning editor of Simon & Schuster, spoke at last week’s LWC Live and during her talk she told us what she was looking for in a book. Very simply, she needs to love a book – and needs to be able to sell it.
Commissioning a book is a hugely subjective process – editors all have their own tastes and loves – and this is reflected in the books they buy. That said, there is a tick list that can be applied and this includes – but is in no means limited to – the following:
* the book must have a unique voice – it should feel like you are in good hands. The voice identifies the writer.
* brilliant and assured writing – but not overwritten.
* plot – must have a story that works.
* humour – even if the book is sad or dark, there should be moments of humour.
* characters should come to life – and they don’t have to be likable but as readers, we do need to want to know what happens to them – to follow their journey.
* great sense of place/atmosphere.
* must make the reader feel something – or cause us to ‘think’ about it beyond the actual reading process.
* sell-able – ultimately a book must have volumes of sales.
* would retailers like the book?
*could the book be entered for prizes/promotions (these can be instore promotions).
*does the book have a wide readership?
If you’d like to hear Francesca’s talk, then join the club and receive the recording.