Hi, Charlotte! Welcome to The Romaniacs’ place, we’re delighted you’ve made it, especially as you’re so busy with HarperImpulse. Can you tell us a bit more about your role at HarperImpulse and how you came into the world of publishing, please?
I came into publishing in quite a roundabout way – having graduated from Edinburgh University with a Classics degree, I ended up as an intern at a place called Chawton House Library, a gorgeous historical house in Hampshire with connections to Jane Austen. It was during that six month internship (and those endless days of dreaming of Darcy) that I decided I wanted to work in publishing and indulge my book addiction.
I’ve always been such a massive fan of romance (I put this down to my obsession with Dawson’s Creek when I was younger –no one writes a teen love triangle like Kevin Williamson) so when I got the call from Mills & Boon about an Editorial Assistant position I was over the moon. I spent two very happy years there working across all the series and getting, in my opinion, the very best training in editorial and women’s commercial fiction.
Now I’m at HarperImpulse tackling all things digital! My official title is Content Developer and that covers a really wide range of things – I edit the books and work with our authors, buy new authors for the list, contact and liaise with bloggers and reviewers, brief the covers, help out with our social media by tweeting and writing content, put our titles up on NetGalley, make sure all the metadata for the online retailers is ready and correct by the deadlines and I even generate the epubs myself using a very fancy new online programme (which I’m finally getting to grips with!). It’s a very varied and exciting role, and luckily I have an awesome and super talented team around me to help with all this.
Can you give us a quick low-down on your day to day routine at work, or is there no such thing as a routine?
No day is ever the same – usually it starts with a cup of tea and a quick check through my e-mails, answering the more urgent queries, and then a look into the Impulse inbox where I log the new submissions that have come in. The rest of the day is made up of meetings and fitting in all of the above! Evenings and weekends are for reading new submissions!
Roughly how many submissions does HarperImpulse receive each week and what makes a manuscript stand out over others?
It’s hard to say exactly as every week is different – in our first month we had about 500 submissions! Now, we get a steady stream coming through – maybe about 30-50? Sometimes less, sometimes more (that’s not very helpful is it?! ;))
It really varies as to what makes a manuscript stand out over the others –sometimes it’s a title or a really great hook that immediately catches your eye, such as Lorraine Wilson’s Confessions of a Chalet Girl. Kim had just come back from a ski holiday and I thought what could be a more perfect submission for her to read! But then you have to have the talent to pull off an exciting concept, which Lorraine definitely did – an author’s voice and storytelling ability is very important. It’s so difficult to define the ‘x factor’ but I would say to play to your strengths and write what YOU want to write – not necessarily what you think a publisher wants or what might be ‘the next big thing’. Your passion and enthusiasm for your story and characters will shine through… and that’s wonderful to read.
HarperImpulse have just launched a Christmas competition, can you tell us a bit more about it?
Yes, our Winter Wonderland Competition!!! I’m very excited about this because I LOVE books and movies that feature Christmas… crisp white snow falling softly outside, roaring fires…… that episode of Dawson’s Creek (yes I am obsessed) where Joey and Pacey watch the Christmas lights… it’s such a magical time of year!
So we’re looking for novels of ANY length with a romantic element that is set around Christmas, Winter, New Year or Hanukkah – simply submit to firstname.lastname@example.org and mention the competition in the subject heading. The closing date for entries is midnight GMT October 16th and it’s one entry per person. Kim and I will then read all the submissions and pick our favourite!
The winner will receive a three book contract with us and afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason’s in London (it’s worth it just for the tea right?!). And if you can’t make it to London then we’ll organise for a Fortnum’s hamper to be delivered to you wherever you are in the world!
Feel free to tweet us @harperimpulse or @girl_on_a_ledge if you want more details!
And finally, keeping on the Christmas theme, what has been your worst Christmas present ever?
Ooo worst?! I don’t think I can say that… they might be reading this!!! My birthday’s the 14th December so occasionally I do get the odd joint birthday and Christmas present which used to annoy me… I want two presents. TWO!!! (in a very undemanding and bratty way..ehem)
Thanks again, Charlotte and good luck to all the competition entrants.
Thank YOU Romaniacs for having me on your wonderful blog!