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Recently I had the chance to speak with Laura Haywood-Cory about what it’s like to be an Associate Editor with Baen Books. Laura is a native of North Carolina (she graduated from UNC at Chapel Hill) and has made her career as a professional editor. When I contacted her initially, she was quick to warn me:
“I don’t have anything to do with the slush pile!”
Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how different things are to what most people think. What most of us imagine (publishers who schedule all book signings, author tours, and appearances; an instant to market copy as soon as our favorite author finishes the manuscript; editors who only fix typos and search for new things to publish) turns out to be pretty far from the truth. Instead, she manages social media promotions (Facebook and Twitter), contributes to the web presence for the publisher, proofreads ads and marketing materials, coordinates with conventions and authors to send along promotional stuff (and copies of books) for appearances, and even feeds the office cats!
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200 Words With Editor Laura Haywood-Cory
Write Naked: What is your biggest challenge when working with authors?
Laura Haywood-Cory: One of my favorite parts of the job is being able to interact with people who create the books I love to read. That said, I have to remind some of our authors, they need to let us know about their bookstore signings and convention appearances, so that we can promote them online.
WN: How about with other parts of the publishing process?
LH: Even though a manuscript has been turned in, we can’t publish it the very next week. It can be a challenge to convey that to authors and fans. It actually messes with my sense of time. If you asked me right now about the new David Weber, you would probably be thinking about “A Beautiful Friendship,” which landed a couple of weeks ago, whereas my mind goes to “A Rising Thunder,” which will be out later in 2012.
WN: How is technology changing the publishing industry?
LH: The rise of easy digital self-publishing has led some people to predict the downfall of traditional publishers, but I believe there will always be a place for professional editing, typesetting, cover design, marketing, and ensuring that the books we publish are the highest quality and the best stories that the genres have to offer.
E-books are growing fast, but I’d like to point out something that Eric Flint said a while back: people who love books like to decorate their homes with books, even while buying e-book editions of those books. We plan to continue being a leader in DRM-free e-book publishing.
WN: What differences do you notice between first time authors and authors with multiple publications under their belts?
LH: First-time authors tend to be more emotionally invested about the whole process. Or rather, they’re more likely to show their emotions. Larry Correia, for example, was over the moon when we gave him the news about “Monster Hunter Vendetta” hitting the New York Times bestseller list. It’s great to be able to see it through the eyes of someone like Larry; it’s all fresh and new to him. On the other hand, more experienced authors are also good to work with. They’re not jaded by any means, but they know how the process works, and they’re comfortable with it.
WN: You’re pretty active when it comes to social media. Is this a must do for
publishing industry professionals and authors? If so, do you have any tips?
I think it is. Many years ago, Jim Baen set up Baen’s Bar, where fans, editors, and authors can communicate directly with each other. Some authors are fairly active, like Mike Williamson; others, like David Drake, just pop in occasionally to answer questions. But readers appreciate the chance to have direct interaction. When many of our fans got onto Facebook, we created a presence. Ditto Twitter.
Go where your fans are. It can be a time-sink, so it helps to set aside time for social media. Look at what other authors and publishers are doing, pick a couple of examples of things you like and things you don’t, so you’ll have an idea of what you want your space to be.
WN: And, finally, your James Lipton question: What is your favorite curse word?
LH: Shit; it’s so earthy.
Laura is a professional editor with more than ten years of experience. Her hobbies include swimming, reading, gaming, traveling to the NC mountains, and spending time with her husband, family, friends, and cat.