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Behind-the-Scenes of a Bestselling Book

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Where the Crawdads Sing is one of my favorite books and it’s becoming a movie! It takes a team of people to create a bestselling book.

And one of the most important people on that team is your book editor! The editor of Delia Owen’s bestselling book is Tara Singh Carlson, who joined me on Inside Scoop.

Tara is an Executive Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons and has worked on The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo (which was also a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick), on The Family by Naomi Krupitsky (which was a Read with Jenna pick in November), We Must Be Brave also by France Liardet and many celebrated and bestselling authors.

Here are a few points from Tara about what editors do and how they can help your book become a bestseller.

1) What Editors Do Every Day.

The short answer is: a lot. Editors are working on multiple books in various stages at the same time.

“The runway to publication is so long, 18 months is average, from when I’m reading something to when it’s actually going to be published. I’m publishing between eight to twelve books a year and you can’t be working only on one book at a time,” Tara explained.

But it’s not all reading amazing manuscripts and working with authors.

“Editing is more often what happens after hours and weekends. It’s a lot of email. It’s a lot of making sure everybody knows what they need to know, about different projects, in their various stages,” Tara said.

But that’s for the books an editor is already working on.



2) Acquiring New Books.

Agents submit pitches and manuscripts for editors to consider.

“The volume is already so high that to also consider receiving things directly from authors would make it almost impossible for me to actually consider anything,” Tara said.

But if you don’t have an agent right now, or if an editor passes, don’t get discouraged. There are a lot of editors and literary agents out there.

“Based on the pitch, sometimes I’ll recommend that they actually send it to a colleague, because not everyone knows exactly what you’re looking for at that moment,” Tara said.

If you are one of the lucky ones who’s pitch and manuscript are exciting to the editor, the next step of the process is a conversation.

“Before I make any kind of offer, I always want to have a phone call, or a video call with the author to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we have the same vision for this book. Because even if I love a book, if the reasons that I love it, or the vision that I have for what that book could become are really different from what the author wants that book to be, that will not be a successful publication, or it will just be a very painful editorial process,”  Tara explained.

Like in any field, setting up clear communication and expectations sets up a good collaboration and working dynamic.



3) Where the Crawdads Sing: A Case Study.

Of course, I had to ask Tara about the experience of editing one of my favorite books to further explain the editor’s role. (And she got to be one of the first readers of this book!)

“What really drew me in was the love story between Kya and Tate. So, that’s really what kept me up reading. And also the natural scenes.The nature writing is just so beautiful,” Tara said.

After Tara fell in love with the manuscript, she spoke to Delia about what could use adjustments.

“One of the things that we did work on was the timeline and when the timeline of the past met up with the timeline of the present, so you experience the past in real time. Which made it feel much more immediate rather than having it as a flashback,” she said. “I hated Chase so much when I first read the book. So we really worked on trying to get across on the page, what it is that Kya gets from that relationship and why she might have engaged with Chase,” Tara added.

It’s so interesting to think about the book not having those elements now after reading them. Proving that the right editor can help bring elements in your book forward that feel like they were always there!

For about what editors do, the publishing process, and Where the Crawdads Sing, watch the entire interview here.

BONUS FREEBIE: Your message deserves the media’s attention. So how do you get out there in a bigger way? I’ve got you covered. CLICK HERE to grab my free “Checklist to Become a Go-To Media Expert.”

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