As many of you probably know, I’m the editorial assistant for Heartwarming. I'm looking forward to working with all of you. If we haven't been in touch yet, I'm sure you'll hear from me soon! And whether or not you're a contracted author, you're always welcome to drop me a line with quick (or not-so-quick) Heartwarming questions.
I correspond with our authors almost every day, but another big part of my job is coordinating the unsolicited submissions—also known as the slush pile. When an author sends her manuscript to Heartwarming, I’m usually the first to see it, and it's my job to record the submission and to ensure it makes its way to the right reader. It's pretty thrilling to have so many stories cross my desk, but since I started at Harlequin in August, I've felt a bit like a character from Freaky Friday: as a working poet, I'm used to being in the writer's role. I am the slush pile.
I've sent my fair share of manuscripts to literary journals and publishers, so I'm familiar with that particular mix of satisfaction, anticipation and anxiety that bubbles up whenever you send a piece of writing—of yourself, really—out into the world (every time I slip a manuscript into the mailbox, I swear my stomach drops to the bottom along with the manila envelope). But having been on both sides of the slush pile now, I'm hoping I can give some advice that will make the process feel less agonizing and more exciting.
First of all, I want to stress that we REALLY want to read your story. Yes, yours. But before we dive into the first few chapters, we like to find out a little more about you and your work. Besides listing your professional writing experience, it's helpful if your cover letter has details like word count and whether the manuscript is complete. And we're always interested in why you chose to submit to Heartwarming.
We've all heard rumors about hard-nosed editors who dismiss submissions at the first sign of a typo-don't worry, we're not them. That said, some errors—like misspelling an editor's name—can come across as unprofessional. And it can be distracting when manuscripts are full of grammar issues like wonky verb tenses or punctuation. We don't expect perfection, but the more attention you pay to polishing your manuscript, the more we can dedicate to what really matters—the story.
I feel totally privileged to have a job that allows me to come into contact with talented, creative people and the wonderful worlds they create on a daily basis. Whether you’ve submitted dozens of manuscripts or it’s your first time figuring out where to send that warm, printer-fresh hunk of ink and paper, you can be sure that there’s someone out there who just can’t wait to read it.