An Interview with Editor Jason Pinter
Jason Pinter will be one of the many great featured editors at our 2014 Agents and Editors Conference. Previously an editor at Warner Books, Crown Publishing, and St. Martin’s, Jason is the Founder and Publisher of Polis Books. Learn more about Jason and what he represents by visiting our Featured Editors page and reading the Q&A below.
How would you describe your personal approach to working with a writer/client?
Jason Pinter: I like to consider any writer I work with as a partner in the future success of their book or books. As a new publisher, it’s important to me that our writers feel that they’re in the loop regarding every aspect of the publication – from editorial to design to publicity and marketing. If an author is happy with how their work is being treated, they’re that much more likely to be an active partner and work towards the common goal. Which is getting their work into the hands of as many readers as possible.
JP: Hitting your deadlines is the most important thing, second to which is patience. Just like the act of writing a book, the act of publishing a book does not happen overnight. There are many things that go into the publication, not all of which happen on a day-to-day basis. So if you haven’t heard from your editor or agent it’s not because they’re ignoring you, it’s because they’re in the process of getting answers to your questions.
What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to receiving submissions, reading work, etc.?
JP: People who submit, then find you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc and continue to pitch their work in those settings. Submit, and the publisher will get back to you. If they don’t, keep on with your search. Tracking down an agent or editor via social media generally will ‘not’ land you in their good graces. Remember, you’re looking to foster a business relationship. If you don’t get the answer you want from a certain person, keep looking for the right person who’ll give you that response.
You often hear that it’s the first ten pages – or even the first page – that sells a story. Is there something particular that you look for in those first few pages?
JP: Voice is the first thing you notice in the first few pages. I was hooked by the very first paragraph of JERICHO’S RAZOR by Casey Doran, and remember distinctly thinking, “I hope the rest of the book is this good.” It was, and we published his book. After voice, it’s basic sentence structure and polish. A couple of typos or errors can be fixed or overlooked, but if your first few pages are littered with mistakes it can be assumed there are many more where that came from and you haven’t done the work necessary. Submitting a manuscript is like going on a first date. You wouldn’t show up to a date with a ketchup stain on your shirt having not taken a shower in three days, would you?
If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
JP: Reward yourself for finishing a first draft, but realize that’s just the beginning. Keep editing and revising until you literally would not change a word. Too many writers finish a first draft and assume they’ve written a book. Well, you don’t shoot eighteen hours of film and call it a movie. Edit, trim, revise, hack, slash, expand and explain. Once you’ve put all the words down on the page, you have to make sure they’re all the ‘right’ words.
Tell us about a project you took on, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on, because there was something special or unique about it that you couldn’t say no to. Or, tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an editor or agent.
JP: One of the first projects I acquired for Polis Books was a Middle Grade novel called THE MISSHAPES. It’s the first in a planned trilogy. I’d started Polis with the goal of strictly focusing on adult fiction, but this story was so unique, the characters so rich and the voice so witty that I just had to publish it. It was like the reading equivalent of going to a Pixar movie. I felt that kids would love it, but there was also a level of glee and wit that would allow adults to feel like they were kids again too.