Interview with SAMHAIN Editor Holly Atkinson
|Editor Holly Atkinson|
FF&P Member, Nancy Lee Badger, invited Holly Atkinson, an editor with SAMHAIN Publishing, to give our readers a new perspective from the other side.
I became an editor almost by accident, actually, which is strange considering how much I wanted to be one. When I was in college, all of my critiques for creative writing classes were extensive and somewhat brutal. I was exposed to Track Changes on MS Word in my fandom days, when I exchanged fanfic notes with fellow Buffy-writers.
As I said, my dream job was always editing. People would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’d waffle with what I thought were more realistic answers, but when I allowed myself to fantasize, my answer was always the same. Some people shoot for movie stardom, some for athletics—I just wanted to edit books and spend my days reading.
I debuted in the publishing world in 2009 or 2010, and after a while, decided to look for editing positions. My first editing gig came from Lyrical Press, where I served as a line editor. I next worked at Mundania Press as a content editor. After a couple years, I applied for a position with Samhain, and the rest is history.
Describe the genre of the most recent release, and is this the only genre you represent?
I believe the most recent release was in the urban fantasy genre, and I know I have another coming up. I do love urban fantasy, but it’s not my only genre. My authors write contemporary, fairytales, paranormal, BDSM, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, historical and fantasy. The only requirement, as far as I’m concerned, is to tell a good story. I have preferred genres, but I do like taking a break from those and sampling what else is out there.
What is your weekly routine like?
I am a copywriter by day and an editor by night, so my weekly routine can be a little hectic. From 8-5, I work at a local advertising agency and write content for blogs, websites, print media, television, radio spots, and so on. Before work, during breaks, and over lunch, I check my editor email, chat with authors, squeeze in edits, read submissions, and do the administrative paper-pushing. When I get home, I answer author emails, do my best to meet self-set edit goals, and then read until bedtime. Over the weekend I focus almost entirely on edits and submission reading.
What do you see ahead in your career?
I would like to transition to editing full-time. This is my five-year goal. Working with authors and helping bring their vision to life is incredibly fulfilling.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep submitting. If you receive a rejection, try to distance yourself from the manuscript. Have a friend—one who’s not afraid of hurting your feelings—read it and listen to what they have to say. Demand brutal honesty, and don’t shy when you get it. You’re not going to agree with every piece of advice you receive, but you have to allow yourself to take some lumps to make your manuscript better.
Critique groups cannot be overvalued. Online communities are fantastic, but check for local groups where you can meet and discuss ongoing writing projects with regional authors.
How can our readers find your submission guidelines?
The submission guidelines are available on the Samhain website: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/submissions/
Since she can remember, Holly Atkinson’s professional ambition has revolved around fiction editing. She was fortunate to receive her first taste in editing when she was thirteen and wrote copy for a local realtor show. In 2008, Holly graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor’s in English, specializing in Creative Writing. Her first real job in the literary world came in the role of line editor for Lyrical Press. In 2011, she joined Mundania Press as a content editor and finally landed her dream job at Samhain Publishing in 2012.
Holly describes herself as the quintessential book nerd. In her spare time, she writes erotic romance under a penname, though she hopes to produce more mainstream works in the future so the more conservative members of her family can read her work. She lives in Missouri with her husband, loves to travel, and goes a little crazy around the holidays. Her largest writing influences include Pamela Smith Hill, Aaron Sorkin, JK Rowling, Stephen King, and Joss Whedon.
Thank you, Holly, for the great insight.
Readers: Feel free to leave comments or questions.