Ask BHP: How Do Editors Work With Different Authors?

I love some of the fun questions readers had about the editorial process. Here’s our June question to answer: “How does an editor tailor their approach to a specific author’s writing and work style when making suggestions/corrections? Or, are editors and authors paired up because of similarities in their approaches to such a project?”

Of course, because I (Amy Green, fiction publicist) work in marketing, I have no idea how editors do this. That’s why I give you…interviews with the fantastic Jessica Barnes and Jen Veilluex, two of our fiction editors here at Bethany House. Even I learned as I read their answers, so I hope you enjoy them.

 

Jessica Barnes

What a great question! I work with about ten fiction authors here at Bethany House, and all of them have different writing styles. I also have a slightly different editing relationship with each of them. Editors aren’t “matched” to authors here in the way you’re asking; it’s usually more about workload and schedule than personality. But as an editor, I see it as my job to be flexible and adapt my working style to my authors’.

When it comes to staying in an author’s writing style while making changes to a manuscript, my initial reaction to the question of how I do it was, “…I just do?” This is so part and parcel of an editor’s job that I don’t even realize I’m doing it anymore. The best answer I can give is that when I’m editing a book, I’m immersed in the story, the characters, and the writing. So if I think a scene needs an extra line at the end, usually that line naturally stems from what came before it, and it fits both the story and the style. By this point I’m so familiar with how my authors construct sentences and how they tell their stories that I’m able to slip into that same voice and add little bits and bobs (or subtract them) when necessary. It’s no different than people who unconsciously take on the accent of whatever place they’re visiting.

As a side note, here’s something that I hadn’t thought of in years that this question made me remember: My freshman year of college, my writing professor started the semester by giving us short passages from famous writers—Hemingway is the one I most clearly remember—and having us rewrite the passage by changing the subject and content, but exactly copying all the sentence structure. In this way, we learned how it felt to construct sentences and paragraphs in that writer’s rhythm and style. Perhaps that has turned out to be more helpful than I could imagine at age 18?

When it comes to matching an author’s work style, this is more straightforward. Some of my authors are extremely collaborative, and I will spend a couple hours on the phone with them at revisions, brainstorming ideas and solutions to trouble spots. Some of my authors work better alone, and they disappear with their edits for two months and then reemerge with a shiny new manuscript, ready for more feedback. For the most part, I let the author lead the way in how involved they want me in their writing and revision process. So far, it seems to be working!

 

Jen Veilleux

Our editing assignments come from our managing editor, who works with our acquisitions editors to determine which editor has the most availability. Most of our authors are contracted to write a series of books, which means that an editor is going to be working with a particular author for years! So while editor or author preference or experience are sometimes taken into consideration, mostly it’s timing.

When I first started at Bethany House, I made it my mission to read the books of as many of our authors as I could. Reading widely across all genres, I began to get a sense of different authors’ voices and styles, which helped me immensely when I became a line editor and began working directly with the authors. The authors I work with vary from biblical to contemporary, from Gilded Age to Regency, and from fantasy to Amish!

Above all, good editors are working with the author. There is a lot of back-and-forth between the author and the editor throughout the process: rewrites, discussions, e-mails, phone calls, drafts, questions, second opinions, fact-checking, more rewrites. You get to know authors over time, like what method of communication they prefer, what characters they’re attached to or will be important in the next book, what phrases they like to use, and how they like to incorporate faith and God into their writings.

As an editor, I am doing my best to support the author’s vision of his or her book, but I’m also advocating for the reader. While authors’ genres and voices may differ, the basics of a story do not: Does the plot make sense? Are the characters well developed? Should this chapter be cut or moved? If I get hung up on a plot point or a strange POV shift, readers might as well. But at the end of the day, it’s not my name on the book. It’s the author’s.

I am grateful for the relationships that I have developed with my authors over the last several years, and I am so humbled and proud to work alongside them. Sure, it’s great when books sell well, but oftentimes I’m just so proud that these books exist. An author had a dream and did the hard work of writing, rewriting, and rewriting some more, and then, with a little help from me and with a lot of help from so many others at BHP (copy editors, proofreaders, art and design, and on and on), it became something tangible, something you can hold in your hands or scroll with your finger on an e-reader. Editors are kind of like midwives—helping, encouraging, gently correcting—but it’s the authors who do a lot of the hard work. And when we’ve laid the newly created being in the hands of its creator, we quietly pack up our tools and slip off into the night to help bring the next one into existence.

Let’s hear it for editors! Readers, what do you think would be the most interesting part of working in the editorial department at a publishing house?

Summer Activities That Are Better With a Book

Libraries all over the country are beginning their summer reading programs, and we here at Bethany House always love encouraging people to dive into their next great book. But let’s face it: summer is a busy season, packed with events and gatherings. Where’s the time for a good summer read?

Right in the middle of all the fun, of course! Here’s how we think a few of your favorite summer fun activities go well with books.

 

Camping

I love swimming, hiking, making pudgie pies while telling stories around the campfire, and all the other staples of a good camping trip. But when it (inevitably) rains one of the days, you can either sit sullenly on your sleeping bag swatting mosquitos and muttering threats at whoever came up with this whole camping idea…or you can pull out the novel you brought just for this occasion. I think you know which options comes recommended by our team.

Oh, and make sure that either your tent is thoroughly waterproof or that you store your books in a plastic gallon bag for safekeeping. Maybe both…you can never be too careful. Let my soggy fourth-grade copy of Stuart Little be a cautionary tale for you.

Road Trips

I like the license plate game as much as the next person, but that’s not going to make for hours-long entertainment the way books will. If you’re not an ebook fan and have family members who complain about the space you’re taking up hauling around your personal library, remind them that each ten-inch block contains an entire world, so you’ve actually economized. Or just ask if they want to get tied to the roof of the car for the rest of the journey to make space, your choice.

To all of you who get car sick when focusing on lines of text: first of all, I’m very sorry. Second of all, audiobooks were invented for just this purpose! I’ve found that, for me, first-person or epistolary novels are especially fun to listen to, since it feels like the characters are talking directly to you.

Bonfires

Just kidding. Don’t put your precious books anywhere near fire! Ash and smoke aren’t good for them either. Sticky s’mores hands are also a no-no. So basically…no bonfire reading.

Sports Events

Sure, I understand that you’re probably going to this event to watch what actually happens, but is anyone really going to notice if you glance down at a book a few times during a baseball game? Probably not. Or you can at least get a little reading in during intermission—I mean halftime—I mean…[Googles baseball terms] seventh inning stretch? The point is, having a book handy is never a bad idea. You never know when you’ll be able to sneak in a chapter or two…or twenty.

(This seems like an appropriate time to apologize to my cousin, whose baseball games I completely do not remember because I was reading the whole time. Sorry, Jeff!)

Yardwork

This one is more for audiobooks, but nothing makes pulling weeds more fun than immersing yourself in a fictional world. Plus, you can take out your anger at the fictional villains on those stubborn weeds. “Oh, so you’re going to thwart the couple’s declaration of love again, are you? Take that.” [Yank dandelion out by the roots] Highly satisfying.

Lounging by the Pool/Beach

Sure, it’s nice to get a little sun, with the sound of the waves in the background (or, let’s be realistic, kids hollering and splashing). But that can get boring after the first five minutes, so it’s important to tuck a good summer read in the beach bag on your next trip. As a bonus, if you hold it right, it can serve as a sunblock and a shield from sand getting kicked in your face. Bonus points if you pick a book set by the seaside or during summer (not that you can’t read about pioneers surviving a blizzard while you’re sunning on your beach towel, but it would be a little weird).

One caution: the swimmers and splashers around you will need to be made aware of the serious consequences they will face if they intentionally get your precious pages wet. This is the right time to employ the Death Glare, and if you really want to communicate effectively, That Tone. (You know the one I’m talking about.)

These are just a few ideas—I’m sure you can come up with more. Readers, do you have any tips for getting in some summer reading?

June 2019 New Releases

June is all about historical romance here at Bethany House, but what a wide variety of fun stories we have for you! (And some beautiful covers, as well.) Take a look at all four of these new releases, and if you’d like to read more, click on the covers to read an excerpt.

A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

The Bride Ships #1

Plot Summary: After facing desperate heartache and loss, Mercy agrees to escape a bleak future in London and join a bride ship. Wealthy and titled, Joseph leaves home and takes to the sea as the ship’s surgeon to escape the pain of losing his family. He has no intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, they must fight against a forbidden love.

 

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

The Codebreakers #1

Plot Summary: In the midst of the Great War, Margot De Wilde spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But after a sudden loss, her world is turned upside down. Lieutenant Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by a destructive enemy. Immediately smitten with Margot, how can Drake convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

 

Wherever You Go by Tracie Peterson

Brookstone Brides #2

Plot Summary: Mary is one of the best sharpshooters in the country, but unless the man who killed her brother is brought to justice, her accomplishments seem hollow. Journalist Christopher is covering her show, and he is immediately captivated by Mary—but getting close to someone would threaten to bring his past to light. Can they find healing from the past together?

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

Plot Summary: After being railroaded by the city council, Abby needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed, and a man she can control—not the stoic lumberman Zacharias, who always seems to exude silent confidence. She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him. But as trust grows between them, she finds she wants more than his rescue. She wants his heart.

 

Which of these eras would you be most interested in actually living in?

Prayer for Authors: June 2019

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in June:

Jody Hedlund
Tracie Peterson
Roseanna M. White
Karen Witemeyer

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Romans 15:5-6 (NLT)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For patience for the hard times or times of waiting, and moments of encouragement.
  • For those who work behind-the-scenes to get books to readers.
  • For good rest, especially sleep, during busy seasons of writing or marketing.

Thanks again for taking time to pray along with us. I’m always encouraged to know that so many readers care enough about our authors and their books to pray for them.

Ask BHP: Why Do Some Translations Have a Different Cover?

This month’s Ask BHP question is about the hidden world of translated editions: “I’m always confused when foreign language books have a different cover. Can you tell us why?”


The answer to this one is actually pretty simple. Bethany House currently does most of its translations by licensing translation rights to a foreign publisher. That way, we don’t have to have in-house translators—and the publishers in other countries often know what will work best in their market. For fiction, sometimes very United-States-specific stories, like Amish fiction, won’t work as well in some countries as something more universal, like biblical fiction.

This also answers the question some readers submitted about how we decide which books are translated. Sometimes we’ll pitch a particular author for a translation we think will do well, but ultimately it’s up to their team what projects they’d like to take on.

As the foreign publisher works out the contract with our Rights department, they can specify if they’d like to be able to use the current cover art or create their own That’s why you’ll sometimes see different versions. One publisher might decide that for their market, a different image would be better, or they just prefer contracts without cover art rights.

You may occasionally see authors posting about their new translations from all over the world. This is the behind-the-scene process that goes into it! Here are some fun recent examples for you to enjoy.

This one is interesting…the publishers bought the rights to the cover for the novella collection Hearts Entwined and wanted to use that cover for More Than Meets the Eye (it fit better with their other Karen Witemeyer books).

Book Giveaway and a Personality Quiz!

There are many things I love about my job, but near the top of the list is helping readers find a brand-new author. That’s why I’m excited that Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes entered the bookish world this month.

First Lines: “One minute a guy is splitting wood in the northeastern corner of the country, stomach rumbling and heart afire with ambition in the wake of his eighteenth birthday, and the next minute he’s pumping water from the old kitchen sink to clean the work off his hands and pick up a letter from the president of the United States of America himself. It lies there on the red, paint-chipped kitchen table, like an old friend who has let himself in and put his feet up, the most natural thing in the world. But it’s anything but natural.”

Plot Summary: In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Its message? Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss’s humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the harbor village on the coast of Maine, and he sets his callused hands to work.

Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when GrandBob, the man who gave her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is the one in need of help. But what greets her is a mystery: a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Memories of stone ruins on a nearby island ignite a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

Together with the handsome and enigmatic town postman, Annie uncovers the story layer by layer, yearning to resurrect the hope GrandBob once held so dear and to know the truth behind the chasm in her family’s past. But mending what has been broken for so long may require more of her and those she loves than they are prepared to give.

To celebrate this debut novel’s release, we’re having some fun on the blog. First, take the personality quiz below that tells you which location in the charming town of Ansel-by-the-Sea best fits your personality.

Then, comment on this post with the location result you got from the quiz, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Whose Waves These Are! I’ll choose three winners by May 27, 2019. Have fun!

Bethany House Reading Road Trip 2019

Time for your guide for planning a summer road trip. First stop: a bookstore or library! If you’ve ever wanted to travel but didn’t quite have the budget to get to all the locations you’d like, you can explore new places through the pages of some of our books. To make it easy for you, we’ve listed all the settings for Bethany House novels published from July 2018 to June 2019 below.

Need more suggestions, or want to find a specific state not listed here? Check out our archives from 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015. Enjoy, readers!

Alaska: Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

California: In Dreams Forgotten and In Times Gone By by Tracie Peterson

Florida: A Simple Singing by Leslie Gould (also set in Pennsylvania), The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

Georgia: Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan

Illinois: Caught by Surprise by Jen Turano (also set in New York), Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin, Searching for You by Jody Hedlund

Maine: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Maryland: Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey

Minnesota: A Season of Grace by Lauraine Snelling

Missouri: Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

Montana: When You Are Near and Wherever You Go by Tracie Peterson

Nevada: The Reluctant Warrior and The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy

New York: A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

Oklahoma: The Lieutenant’s Bargain by Regina Jennings

Pennsylvania: The First Love and The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis, Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano, A Faithful Gathering by Leslie Gould

Texas: More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

Washington: Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Wisconsin: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond and The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Bonus! Novella Collections (aka Multi-Stop Trips)

Since these were all set in different locations, we thought we’d break down all of them for you.

England, Texas, West Virginia, Washington: The Christmas Heirloom by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade

Illinois, Maryland, and South Carolina: The Cost of Betrayal by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, Lynette Eason

Outside the United States

Canada: The Best of Intentions and The Highest of Hopes by Susan Anne Mason, Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green, A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

England: An Hour Unspent and The Number of Love by Roseanna White, The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen, A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter, The Artful Match by Jennifer Delamere

France: Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin (also set in Spain)

Gambia: Outbreak by Davis Bunn (also set in other countries in West Africa)

Israel: Jerusalem’s Queen by Angela Hunt

Nevis: Verity by Lisa Bergren

Russia: Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig (also set in Ukraine, France, Republic of the Congo, and more)

Sicily: Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette (also set in ancient Canaan)

Other Realms

Because the only way you can get to these fantastic settings is through the pages of a book.

Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven by Morgan Busse

What’s one place you’ve only “visited” through the pages of a book but feel you know well?

How I Became a Fantasy Writer

Almost every writer I’ve met said they wanted to be a writer since they were young. At age six, I wanted to be a unicorn. A beautiful, magical unicorn. That should tell you where my life was heading from an early start.

My earliest book memories were my mother reading to us the children’s version of Pilgrim’s Progress and The Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, I couldn’t wait until the next night to find out what happened to the Pevensie siblings, so I found my mother’s copy and hid in a corner and finished it that afternoon.

As the years went by, I added more fantasy to my collection, starting with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. My father was a fantasy nerd before it was cool and introduced me to even more stories: Dune, Conan, A Princess of Mars, and many others. When I wasn’t reading, I was imagining. So it’s no surprise that eventually I started writing my own stories.

In 2004, shortly after the birth of my daughter, I needed a creative outlet. My husband always said I should be a writer. I usually turned him down. I was a reader, not a writer. But then I had this idea and I couldn’t escape it. I started writing about this woman who could see inside people’s souls with a touch of her hand. Using the fantasy genre, I explored what it would be like if we could see people the way God sees people: both the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Years later, that story became my first published book: Daughter of Light. Since then, I’ve continued to write in the speculative genre. I always thought the Frankenstein story was a great story about how we should be careful of what we invent, and how the monster wanted to be loved. So I wrote a similar story about a young woman who—because of science—is turning into a monster from the inside out using a unique genre called steampunk (steampunk is a story set in a Victorian or Wild West era with a high level of technology ran on steam). A year later, Tainted came out, which won the Realm Award for best steampunk and Awakened, the following book, won the Carol Award for best Christian speculative.

It took years for me to embrace the fact that I love fantasy, and that there is nothing wrong with that genre. In fact, the next generation is desperately looking for something beyond our world. Just look at the books and movies young people read and watch. And what better way to introduce them to God (who is the most fantastical!), than with stories set in amazing worlds, filled with flawed and searching people, who find light and hope.

Along with writing fantasy, I attend an amazing conference every year for writers of faith who write specifically in the fantasy and science fiction genres, Realm Makers. It’s probably the only writing conference where you will find people walking around in geeky shirts, debating the eating habits of dragons, and dressing up as their favorite characters for the awards banquet. I have a steampunk outfit I wear especially for the occasion. It’s one of the highlights of my year!

Looking back, I never did become a unicorn. Instead, I became a fantasy writer. Which is almost the same thing. Then again, those silver hairs I see starting to peek out at the top of my head could be an indication that my dream just might be coming true.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Morgan! Readers, you can check out the first chapter of Mark of the Raven, or visit Morgan’s website for more about her and her books. What is a favorite character from a fantasy novel you’ve read?

Prayer for Authors: May 2019

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in May:

Morgan Busse
Amanda Dykes
Becky Wade

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”—Colossians 1:27-28 (ESV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For perseverance in personal and writing tasks that might be monotonous.
  • For first-time readers of these authors to discover spiritual truths in the books.
  • For grace-filled conversations between authors and readers that are mutually encouraging.

I really appreciate these monthly times of prayer. What a joy it is to know that readers are praying for our authors and their books! Thanks so much for joining us.

May 2019 New Releases

Take a look at these lovely new releases for May! We here at Bethany House are so excited for you to read the stories of Britt, Annie, and Selene for the first time, each with their own unique personalities and dreams and struggles. (There have to be struggles, of course…otherwise there wouldn’t be a story!) Click on each cover to read a first chapter…and enjoy!

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Bradford Sisters #3

Plot Summary: Britt and Zander have been best friends since they met thirteen years ago, but unbeknownst to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long. When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Washington to investigate. As they work together to uncover his uncle’s tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also come to light?

 

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Plot Summary: In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving—but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity, and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

 

Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

The Ravenwood Saga #2

Plot Summary: Exiled and on the run, Selene Ravenwood is in search of the real reason her family was given the gift of dreamwalking…but first she must adapt to her marriage with the man she was originally assigned to kill. With war impending and a dark being after her gift, she finds herself at a crossroads—but time is running out and soon her choice will be made for her.

 

So, readers, which of the water-themed backgrounds on these books is your personal favorite? (There’s at least one thing all of these books have in common, besides great stories, of course!)