Date: January 2014
Bio: Editor Tessa
Woodward has been at HarperCollins for 8 years. She edits a wide array of
romance, women's fiction, and mystery as well as selected creative non-fiction
titles. On the romance side, she edits authors across all genres, including the
New York Times bestsellers Tessa Dare, Karen Ranney,
Jennifer McQuiston, and C. L. Wilson. She also edits
Jennifer Bernard, Cynthia Sax, Lecia Cornwall, and
Maya Rodale. She recently acquired the New York Times bestselling New
Adult authors Jennifer Armentrout/J. Lynn, Molly
McAdams, and Nichole Chase. She is looking to acquire all genres of romance!
- Which categories do you currently acquire/
represent? Which category has a
special/constant place in your heart?
Answer: I acquire all genres of romance as well as erotica and New Adult. Historicals are my first love but I’m also a huge
- What length synopsis do you prefer to
see with a partial? Single spaced
Answer: Whatever is needed to
explain the book. A couple of pages usually does it. And it makes no difference if it’s single or double-spaced.
- In terms of submissions, what are you
sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?
Answer: Honestly, right now I’m not
seeing a bunch of the same things over and over again. There’s a ton of variety
out there! I’m probably not looking for Vampires right now. And I’m definitely
trying to find the next big thing in erotica. I also love anything with
are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good
read? What particularly grabs your attention?
Answer: Voice, voice, voice, voice, voice. I want your writing can grab me
right from the start.
- For you, in general, which elements in
a fiction submission are terminal problems garnering automatic rejections
and which are tempting and fixable meriting a look at a revision if a
talented author is willing to accept your advice?
- Voice – Voice is the most
important thing. If it’s not there, it’s not worth it.
- Weak Grammar – always fixable!
- Common plot – sometimes fixable
depending on the writing.
- Poor character development – this
is usually a deal breaker for me.
- Story is too controversial (ie rape, politics, religion—what else?)- If the
writing holds up, and it makes sense in the context of the story, I’m
fine with controversy.
/ uninspired writing – huge problem.
- Excessive use of violence or cursing –
doesn’t bother me unless it interferes with the story development.
- Lacking genre –specific requirements
like, suspense/sexual tension/ world-building – if there’s not enough
tension, suspense, or world building, it’s
probably not for me.
- Pacing is off—plot is too slow – if
the writing is amazing, this is fixable
- Story starts in wrong spot – this
happens all the time! Totally fixable.
- Ending is unsatisfactory – as long
as the author agrees to make changes, this is fixable.
- 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: Not really. I try to be as
specific as possible for any submission I personally receive.
- 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: As long as the writing is
there and the author and I have spoken and can agree on a vision for the book
and her/his career, I don’t need anything else.
- Do you have any pet peeves?
Answer: Not actually telling me
what happens in the story in your query letter.