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Interview with an Editor Series: Leah Hultenschmidt, Dorchester Publishing

Dorchester PublishingLeah Hultenschmidt is an editor with a unique perspective. She majored in Journalism and English; did internships at newspapers; was an editorial assistant at Dorchester and was Dorchester’s Director of Public Relations. In 2002, she was named in the Who’s Who of Professional Management. Two years ago, Ms. Hultenschmidt took over the editing at Dorchester. Authors like Alesia Holiday are so enamored with Ms. Hultenschmidt’s tireless work on their behalf, characters are named after her (Shop ’til Yule Drop).

Can you briefly describe what an editor does? I think that readers assume that you get to do what we all dream of doing and that is get paid to read for a living. I suspect that the truth is less romantic.

There's really no such thing as a daily routine. One of the things I love most about my job is its versatility. Because Dorchester is a relatively small company, the editors are responsible for a lot. We read submissions, negotiate with agents, help devise cover concepts, write the back blurb, write marketing copy, keep an eye on sales figures and inventory–and, of course, edit our books. We work very closely with Publicity and Sales on packaging and promotion. A big part of my days are also responding to telephone calls and emails with authors and agents.

How many romance books do you release each month? (ie. is there a set amount released in month and under what imprints?

We typically release 3 romances under our Leisure Books imprint and 3 with Love Spell each month.

The Legend of Banzai Maguire (2176)

Dorchester has published two series of books that inhabit the same fantasy world but written by several authors. This is very innovative. How did that idea develop?

Dorchester has done several continuity series by different authors in the past –" 2176 conceived by Susan Grant and the wildly popular Crimson City series created by Liz Maverick. Jennifer Ashley gets complete credit for coming up with the whole concept of The Immortals. She came to me with the proposal and then I invited the other authors on board –" Crimson Rogue (Crimson City)Robin Popp because of her action-packed Night Slayers series and Joy Nash because she specializes in Celtic stories, which we needed for the third book, and has a great touch for the very sensual. They've all done a wonderful job of bringing their talents to Jennifer's vision and creating a highly unique series.

Are there any trends you see growing, expanding or contracting? What do you think is driving these trends?

An exciting trend I've seen a lot of lately seems to be a mixture of subgenres – paranormal historicals, chick lit time-travels, etc. And one we've been doing a lot of lately is mystery romances. To me, it speaks of romance authors' versatility and the desire to keep the genre new and fresh.

Killer in High Heels

What is the most interesting story of how you came to buy a manuscript?

Most of my books have come about the usual way –" either through an agent or by meeting an author at a conference.

How much time do you spend actually reading as part of your job?

It really depends on the day. Some days I don't get any reading done, and other times the majority of my day is spent editing. I try to set aside a little time each day, but it doesn't always quite work out that way.

Do you get to read for pleasure? If so, do you have favorite authors?

I make the time for pleasure reading–both within the romance genre and in different ones. I loved Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, Audrey Niffenegger's “The Time Traveler's Wife,” the historical novels by Sharon Kay Penman, Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, J.R. Ward, and Naomi Novik's fabulous Temeraire fantasy series, to name a few.

Remember the Alimony

What are you looking for in terms of a romance these days? Any particular themes? periods? subgenres?

I know it sounds so clichà©, but I'm really just looking for a fresh voice and a good story –" no matter what the setting. I've done everything from Regency-set historicals to futuristics in Siberia. Most of all, I want a story that teases me, draws me in with interesting characters and a fast-paced plot. I want something that compels me to keep reading long past business hours. When I find those books, I feel like I've hit the jackpot.

Do you think readers today are more accepting of rule breaking romances (pushing the envelope) or are we still very traditional in our buying habits?

I think it's impossible to generalize romance readers as a whole. There are some who enjoy a more traditional read, and others who are always looking for something new, something that doesn't quite fit the mold. My goal is to make sure everyone finds something to like.

Method Man

We’ve heard some about the loss of young readership or the inability to gain that young readership. Is that changing? What are you doing to try to attract the younger readers?

So glad you asked. ;-) In July 2007, we're launching a new line called Shomi, which is specifically geared toward the 18-35 year-old age bracket. These books are ground-breaking new line of cutting-edge romances that blend action and fantasy, and feature strong women in situations that push the boundaries of the genre.  Liz Maverick's WIRED will be out first, followed by Marianne Mancusi's MOONGAZER, then DRIVEN by Eve Kenin, a pseudonym for Eve Silver, who's also written several historical titles.

We’ve heard some about the loss of older readers because of lack of content which is reflective of their lives, specifically baby boomers? Is that still the case? What are you doing to attract older readers?

Actually, it seems the biggest complaint we get from older readers is the type size, and lately we've been doing everything we can to make the font as large as possible without driving up the cost of our books.

Do you have a favorite way of spending time away from books?

I also enjoy working on crossword puzzles, watching really addictive reality TV, or trying out new restaurants.

What is the worst part of an editor’s job?

When a book I love just isn't finding its audience. It makes me want to go out there personally deliver it into readers' hands.

THE IMMACULATE COMPLEXION

What is the best part of an editor’s job?

Just coming to work every day is pretty cool for me. But I always get that excited feeling in my tummy when calling a new author I absolutely adore to make an offer for their first book.

Have you considered writing a book yourself?

Oh no. Coming up with 10 lines of cover copy is tough enough for me. I couldn't imagine having to fill hundreds of blank pages. It gives me immense respect for anyone who's completed a book.

It seems there are two very diametrically opposed growths: erotic romance and inspirational romance. Are those fringe trends or will they become more mainstream?

Since we don't publish books in either genre, it's hard for me to say either way on this one. But I can see how elements of both have blended over into mainstream romance.

Which books are you proudest of having worked on in your career?

I love all the books I've worked on –" it'd be impossible to name just one.

Immortals The Calling

While you are probably excited about all of the books that you have in your catalog can you share with the readers a few that we should be anticipating? Any new authors or existing ones that have exciting projects for 2007?

I wish I had room to talk about everything, but a few titles to keep an eye out for in the coming months:

  • THE IMMORTALS –" a super-sexy paranormal continuity series created by USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Ashley and featuring Robin T. Popp and Joy Nash. It's a four-book series about Immortal brothers who must band together after centuries apart to stop an ancient evil. I know it can be tough to stand out in today's paranormal market, but The Immortals series has the perfect balance of magic, action and sex, complemented by fabulous characters and richly layered plots. These are seriously bad boys to die for. IMMORTALS: THE CALLING will be out in May. You can find more at www.immortals-series.com.
  • MYSTERY ROMANCES
    • KILLER IN HIGH HEELS by Gemma Halliday (March) – Irrepressible shoe designer Maddie Springer takes a road trip to Vegas, where murder, drag queens, and one sexy detective collide in an absolutely hilarious romp.
    • REMEMBER THE ALIMONY by Bethany True (Feb.) –" A former Texas beauty queen becomes Suspect No. 1 in her ex-husband's murder.
  • CHICK LIT
    • METHOD MAN by Naomi Neale (Feb.) –" a recent divorcee gets a whole new perspective on life
      when a pickup artist starts teaching her how guys manipulate women with a process called The Method.
    • THE IMMACULATE COMPLEXION by Edie Bloom (May) –" The Devil Wears Prada of the cosmetics industry

Thanks, Leah! The Shomi line sounds fascinating.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

4 Comments

  1. Kimber An
    Jan 29, 2007 @ 08:38:58

    Very informative. I”ve always enjoyed Dorchester’s futuristics and time travels especially. Rumble on the Bayou and the Star King series are my favorites.

  2. Vivi Anna
    Jan 29, 2007 @ 12:54:21

    I love that Dorchester dares to do new things and take chances on genre bending books.

    I loved the Crimson City series and I can’t wait until the Shomi line hits stores.

  3. Jane
    Jan 29, 2007 @ 13:00:22

    Having been fortunate enough to take a sneak peek at the Shomi line today, I can say that this is going to be great for paranormal readers wanting something new and different. I just started reading one at lunch and am cursing my short lunch period. Lunch should be long enough to finish a book.

  4. Anna
    Jan 30, 2007 @ 09:04:52

    Sorry, but this just leaped out at me:

    “…Irrepressible shoe designer Maddie Springer takes a road trip to Vegas….”

    Ooooh, that’s original. A heroine who has fashionable shoes on the brain and it’s a “hilarious romp”. Just as with vamps and werewolves, I think funny shoe-focused heroines should be stabbed through the heart with a silver spike. Almost makes you long for the romances with cowboys and babies.

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