Interview with Editor/Author Rhonda Helms
Please welcome Rhonda Helms to our blog. She is here to give our readers a new perspective from the other side. Rhonda, please tell our readers a little bit about you, such as why did you become an editor?
Rhonda- Well, I started in the publishing industry as an author, but since I got my Master’s degree in English, I was drawn to the editorial side of publishing. I began at Siren Publishing, and a new love was born. I haven’t looked back. 😉
Nancy- Please tell our readers about the publisher you represent.
Rhonda- To be clear, I’m not here representing Carina Press. 😀 I’m here as a freelance editor who works for Carina Press, but I also do editing on my own for authors seeking to polish their manuscripts or self-publish (rhondaedits.com is my site). Now, that said, I LOVE being a Harlequin editor. At Carina, I’m not restricted to one genre or line specifically. I can acquire a wide variety of manuscripts in many genres, so long as they fall within our guidelines of what we’re seeking. If you go HERE , you can see what we publish.
Nancy- What is your weekly routine like?
Rhonda- I’m also a writer, so my days are typically split. I do editing for half the day and writing for the other half. I live and die by my daily calendar—I’d be lost without it!
Nancy- Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
Rhonda- My mom. She took me to the library whenever I wanted. I devoured everything I could get my hands on. She’s always been one of my biggest supporters, and she proudly displays my own books on her shelves.
Nancy- For authors or prospective authors: what influences your decision to read a submission: the query letter, synopsis, the plot, etc?
Rhonda- I read at least a few pages (I aim for the first chapter, though) of every submission that hits my inbox. For me, it always comes down to the pages—I want strong and interesting characters I can’t stop reading, who hook me early and make me crave more. I don’t look for perfect books. I look for compelling reads. We can clean up the story, fix plot problems, etc.
Nancy- What is the biggest no no you see in submissions that makes you reject them?
Rhonda- Some of the biggest issues I see in manuscripts are 1) info dump. When you stop your storyline to relay a bunch of background information in your opening pages, you’re killing your pacing…and most likely, I’m going to start skimming to see when you get back to your story. Keep that pacing tight and hook me early! 2) Dull characters. I want to read about characters with strong goals, motivations, conflicts, with good emotional stakes and compelling storylines.
Nancy- Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract? Also, how can our readers find your submission guidelines?
Rhonda- My two biggest tips for authors: 1) keep reading. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read amazing books. Read terrible books. Learn how to analyze what makes them amazing, or terrible. Once you start understanding craft, you can start applying it to your own writing. 2) keep writing. You don’t have to write every day to be a “legit” author, so figure out what works for you. And just for kicks, I’m going to add a third tip: 3) Be wary of what writing advice you take. Everyone has an opinion on what works and what doesn’t, so weigh it ALL carefully. Don’t let others stifle your voice or tell you what you HAVE to do or not do to write a “good” book! There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to publishing; it’s mostly guidelines.
Our guidelines are HERE – check them out, and send me your submission anytime! If you address queries directly to the editor of your choice, it will hit our inbox much faster.
More about author/editor Rhonda Helms
I have a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in English, creative writing. I have several novels published in Young Adult and New Adult fiction with Simon Pulse and Kensington (more details at my Rhonda Helms author site). I also taught college-level English composition for several years. I’ve edited first-time authors, multi-published authors, and NYT and USA Today bestselling authors.
In 2015, I edited a Romance Writers of America RITA© award-winning romance, as well as a RITA© award-nominated romance.
I’ve been a professional, full-time manuscript editor for several years, starting my career at Siren Publishing. Right now I’m a freelance acquisitions/developmental editor with Harlequin’s digital-first imprint Carina Press. I’ve been freelancing for several years as well, and I love taking on new projects! Rhondaedits.com is my freelance site.