Editors Who Write (and Sell)
by Malle Vallik, Internet and Digital
When I worked as a Harlequin editor, I read a lot of slush*. A lot of it was really bad. I mean bad.
Reading slush is a curious act of sadomasochism for editors – we live in the hope that the next manuscript we pull from the slush pile is going to be good, but it’s usually not. We continue to hope and keep reading. And everyone once in a while there is a truly amazing story. One with voice and originality, and it makes being an editor great.
But I was also really impressed with the bad stuff. Why? Because the writer dared to try. This anonymous scribe had a dream and spent time, creativity, energy into crafting the best story she could and then she had the guts to send her manuscript to an editor to be critiqued. Wow. It’s like handing over your baby to a judging competition, one where the judges will tell you your baby isn’t beautiful enough or smart enough.
Do you have the guts to do that?
It was these aspiring authors who inspired me to write. (The fact that I knew Harlequin did acquire previously unpublished writers eventually made me submit, but it was the slush authors who made me decide to write). These women had written – could I?
It took me four years. When I finished the first draft of my manuscript it was only 140 pages long when it needed to be at least 220 pages. The hero and heroine were nothing at all at the ending of the book what they can been at the beginning. It had a sagging middle. The romantic conflict was unclear.
But I was happy that I had written a book from beginning to end – and that is the best piece of advice I have to share with aspiring authors. You have to write to the end. Then you can revise.
I revised it many times. Then I submitted it to Harlequin and revised again. And again. And sold. I wrote six novels for Harlequin Temptation under the name Molly Liholm, and one Bantam Love Stories as Malle Vallik. Then I switched careers at Harlequin, became immersed in learning everything about the digital world, wrote a few proposals that never went anywhere. I was sad when Harlequin Temptation ended because those were the stories I really like to write. I kept busy but have several stories in my head that I’ve been spending time putting to paper – and I’ve been looking at opportunities in digital publishing which could publish short humorous contemporaries that I love to read. I think I’ve found my new frontier…now I just have to submit!
Thank you slush writers! You were an inspiration to this editor.
*slush: manuscripts sent by unpublished authors to a publishing house