If I offered one, today’s contributor should receive an award for most-frequent-interviewer! Tamika Burgess brings us another interview, this one with former Simon & Schuster editor Marcela Landres. Below we learn where an editor’s responsibilities end and what duties remain entirely on the shoulders of writers. Check out Tamika’s past guest posts, her interviews with author Natalia Sylvester and author Alaya Johnson.
200 Words With Marcela Landres
By Tamika Burgess
While growing up in Queens, New York, Marcela Landres never considered a career in editing. Although she frequently visited her local library and checked out as many books as she could carry, her parents—Ecuadorian immigrants—expected her to become the first doctor in the family. With that in mind, Marcela was pre-med in college until…
“Organic chemistry taught me I wasn’t suited for a career in medicine.”
When she was faced with having to figure out her own career path, Marcela considered jobs in the area she had always loved: Reading. Marcela never had the desire to be a writer, so she pursued a career in editing. She changed her major and graduated from Barnard College with a degree in English Literature.
Marcela went on to have a successful career as an editor, including a position at Simon & Schuster. She now runs her own freelance editing business in which she focuses on helping writers get published, find the right agent, and on how to manage their writing careers.
As a Latina in the book publishing world, Marcela has always tried to provide Latino writers with opportunities to get published. This includes conducting workshops, consulting, and being one of the founders of The Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference, which offers Latino writers an opportunity to meet with agents and editors seeking Latino writers.
Marcela is the author of How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You – An eBook that covers what editors look for in writers and common mistakes writers make when trying to get published. Marcela is also the publisher of the award-winning e-zine, Latinidad.
Interview With Marcela Landres
Write Naked: Where did your desire to work in publishing come from?
Marcela Landres: Books were my first best friends. I love stories and storytellers. But even as a child I noticed few authors were Latino. I figured if there were more Latinos who worked in publishing, more Latino writers would be published.
WN: How did your position at Simon & Schuster prepare you for your current position?
ML: Few freelance editors have worked as acquisitions editors inside publishing companies. Many of the writers who hire me tell me they chose me primarily because I used to work at Simon & Schuster (secondarily because I am Latina). I can not only edit a manuscript, I can teach writers how editors think, how the acquisitions process works, and how to work the system to their advantage.
WN: How do you define success as an editor?
ML: My success is defined by the success of the writers with whom I work.
WN: When editing can become somewhat of a routine and even a mundane task, how do you maintain interest in your consulting work?
ML: Editing can only become routine or mundane if you work with the same kind of material repeatedly. I work with one manuscript at a time, and usually don’t work with the same writer again. Most of the manuscripts I edit are novels or memoirs, and each is by its nature unique.
WN: What brings you the most satisfaction in your job?
ML: My job brings me the most satisfaction when writers tell me that as a result of working with me they’ve found success, e.g. won an award, got a piece published in a literary journal, and/or had a book published.
WN: What is the most important piece of advice you offer writers regarding their manuscript?
ML: Agents and editors at publishing houses are not paid to help writers hone their craft or polish their manuscripts. Instead, agents are paid to sell, and editors are paid to acquire publishable manuscripts. Producing a manuscript that is ready to be published is solely the responsibility of writers.
Tamika Burgess is a NYC-based writer, blogger, and editor. Her articles have been featured on various sites including Cosmopolitan. She is also the force behind The Essence of Me; where she blogs about all things that catch her attention and spark a reaction. Find her on Twitter @TameeksB.