Interview with Chuck Sambuchino

By Theresa Rizzo

Date:November 2011


Bio: Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and a writer. He works for Writer's Digest Books and edits GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS as well as CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. Besides that, he is a produced playwright, magazine freelancer, husband, cover band guitarist, chocolate chip cookie fiend, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham


Which categories do you currently acquire?Which category has a special/constant place in your heart? 

Answer: As an editor for Writerís Digest Books, I only acquire articles and books that have to do with the craft or business of writing.


In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?

Answer: The field of writing book ideas is pretty narrow. Concerning book submissions, there is virtually no book I see a query for that I havenít seen before. Thatís why platform and marketing are key. You donít have to new idea or even a particularly intriguing one if you have a platform and can sell books.



Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?

Answer: Sure. When you contract a book or article from someone, you are, by definition, entering into a business deal with someone. And it always helps to meet the writer in person to see theyíre a fine person to work with.



Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc?


Answer: In my world (nonfiction), I look for platform, an understanding of the business, past writing credits, organization involvement, drive, and, frankly, how much they cost to work for me.



Do you have any pet peeves?

Answer: If a writer has an ego, thatís an issue. Writing is difficult, and writers can sometimes get bitter regarding thingsóand bitterness is a big turn-off for me. Or if a writer feels the need to argue with me, that is an immediate bad sign. For example, a while back, a writer queried me with an article idea, which I ended up passing on. The writer wrote back and asked why I passed. (Please know that the reason editors and agents donít give personalized rejections detailing their thoughts is because they simply donít have time. Itís really that simple.) Even though I was busy, I threw out a few reasons why I said no to the query. The writer then responded with a long e-mail detailing why I was wrong in my assessment. I didnít even read past a few sentences of the e-mail. All the writer had to do is say ďThank youĒ and then send me a different query some other time for my consideration. Instead, they wanted to argue. I donít have time to argue with anyone. I want writers who are easy to work with.



What are you addicted to?

Answer: Refined sugar and caffeine. 90s rock as well as trashy pop music. Making fun of my dog. Oh yesóand, of course, writing.



What have you always wanted to do?

Answer: Write a screenplay that is produced as a major motion picture.



Do you have a favorite quote?

Answer: I do, but itís not to be repeated here. Ask me in person.