JP: Sadly, there are just so many submissions coming in from agents, that we do not have time to also look at the un-agented materials that come in.
AC: It's said that the publishing industry has changed a lot in recent years, that some of the work once done by editors is now done by agents. How would you describe your role as an editor at HarperCollins?
JP: I personally love the editing process. Though agents do quite a bit of editing before they send the books out, there's usually still more work to be done. Working closely with the authors is for me, the best part of the job. But once the editing process is finished, my role changes from editor to salesperson and marketer. Like I said earlier, one of my main roles is to make sure everyone in the house knows the book and why it will appeal to audiences.
AC: Could you briefly explain what an author can expect once his or her novel has been accepted?
JP: Once the book has been accepted, it generally takes 9 months before it is published. Within those 9 months the book is copyedited, designed, and proofed multiple times. The author will get to see and approve the cover design and interior design and have a chance to see the flap copy. The editor should also send the book out to other authors for blurbs as soon as the manuscript is ready.
About 3-4 months before publication, the marketing and publicity push will really get started. The publicist will do large galley mailings to all the publications he or she thinks the book is right for and pitch the book to radio shows, tv shows, and magazines. The marketing department might do large mailings to book sellers and bloggers, who are increasingly involved in bringing books to audiences. The best thing the author can do is write a letter to booksellers explaining the story behind the book and introducing themselves. It's also never too early for the author to start a website or MySpace page.
AC: Do you have any final advice for authors seeking to get publish?
JP: Never stop writing and never stop submitting your work to agents and publishers. I've seen some great writers get frustrated because they haven't been offered a deal yet, but perhaps their next book will be the one. I think it's really helpful when writers join workshops or take a writing class. That way they can get the early criticism they need as well as make contacts in the writing world. Also, good authors are great readers. You should read as much as you can. And a little tip -- most authors thank their agents in the acknowledgments. If you're looking for an agent, check out books that are comparable to yours and see which agents represent them. This way you know which agents are interested in representing books like yours.