Interview with Harlequin Editor Laura Barth
Please welcome Laura Barth to our blog. She is here to give us a new perspective from the other side. Laura, please tell us a little bit about you, such as why did you become an editor?
Laura- Though I currently live in Toronto, I grew up on the west coast of Canada, mainly in rural areas. My family raised various animals over the years. We had horses, goats, and even the odd pig or cow. I loved the animals and being in nature, but I was never really much of a farm girl. Hauling giant buckets of water and mucking out stalls was not my calling. I spent much of my childhood with my nose in a book. In university I loved analyzing literature and helping my peers with their essays. Becoming an editor allowed me to make my passion into my career.
Please tell our readers about the publisher you represent.
Laura– Harlequin is one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women. We publish a variety of editorial, including YA and literary fiction. But we are best known for romance. We have over 1300 authors around the world, and publish over 110 titles a month in 34 languages.
Describe the genre of the most recent release, and is it the only genre you represent?
Laura– I edit category romance. Here at Harlequin we call it series romance. I currently acquire books of 55,000 words for both Harlequin American Romance and Harlequin Blaze. American Romance novels most often have a western setting, low to moderate sensuality, and strong family elements. Blaze is our sexiest series. These stories are contemporary and have engaging, realistic characters. The tone is usually fun and flirty.
What is your weekly routine like?
Laura– I’m generally in the office Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I work at home on Wednesdays. When I’m in the office I try to take care of the more administrative parts of my job—making offers, drafting contracts, scheduling books, editing back and front matter, going to meetings, briefing and approving cover art, and communicating with my authors and the licensors I work with for the Mystery and Suspense program. I take advantage of my work-at-home day to do any actual editing or revision reads. I need this distraction-free time for my more focused work.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
Laura– When I was in fifth grade the teacher came around with a box of novels. She randomly passed them out. We each had to read our novel and write a book report. The novel I received was Children of Morrow by H.M. Hoover. It is a dystopian fantasy. I’d never read anything like that before and I just loved the way the story drew me in and allowed me to experience a whole new world. After that I went to the school library to look for more books. When the librarian learned which book I had liked, she steered me toward other fantasy stories. I was hooked! I still enjoy reading fantasy in my free time.
For authors or prospective authors: what influences your decision to read a submission: the query letter, synopsis, the plot, etc.
Laura– When considering reading a submission, I’m most influenced by the query letter. Is it well written and engaging? Does the story pitch sound like something that would fit either of the lines I work for? Is there something fresh about the plot? If so, I’ll move on to the synopsis.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract? Also, how can our readers find your submission guidelines?
Laura– We sometimes hear stories about authors who submitted their first finished manuscript and were contracted right away and paid many hundreds of thousands of dollars. But for most authors this is not the path. They may be rejected countless times before finally having the right book reach the right person at the right moment. Don’t give up after a few rejections. Take whatever feedback the editor or agent has given you and use it to make your work stronger. If this is your passion, it’s worth pursuing.
Readers can submit their work by going to the following LINK
This will direct you to each different romance series and you can submit your work directly online.
Laura Barth is associate editor for American Romance and Blaze. She also manages the Worldwide Mystery and Suspense program. Laura was thrilled to join Harlequin as a proofreader in 2005. A year of romance emersion was the perfect preparation for her move to Editorial in 2006. Excited by finding new talent and helping authors develop their skills, Laura loves working as a team to bring great stories to life. She is interested in acquiring novels with flawed, relatable characters and strong conflicts for both Harlequin Blaze and American Romance. In her spare time, she loves traveling and enjoying nature, whether hiking, cycling or kayaking. Follow her on Twitter at @LauraBarth2011.