An Interview with Editor Michael Signorelli
Michael Signorelli, a Senior Editor at Henry Holt and Company, Inc, will be a featured editor at this year’s Agents and Editors Conference. Learn more about Michael 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?
Michael Signorelli: I aim to publish the books on my list with attentive and unflagging enthusiasm. My working relationship with an author is based upon my belief in their work. I’ve signed up an author because I want the privilege of finding his or her book its readers. And I strive to be the author’s advocate at every stage of the publication process.
MS: As in any environment, work or otherwise, having a thankful and positive attitude will win the day. I don’t ask that writers be grateful because I’m their editor or because we paid them money or because they owe us, but because they’ll more fully appreciate the life of the book. If you’re being published, you’ve beaten long odds. The ensuing publication process is all gravy and should be enjoyed. And everyone you’re dealing with in the publishing house is in the business of finding your book its readers. That’s a nice set of circumstances. Of course, if you see that we’re not doing our job, there’s no reason to feel grateful for that; and when you, the so far wonderfully gracious writer, make your dissatisfaction clear, we’ll have very good reason to listen.
What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to receiving submissions, reading work, etc.?
MS: I go a little crazy when I send a rejection and in response the agent immediately sends me another submission. I feel like I’m being suffocated in a burlap bag. I don’t see how that’s a very selling strategy. Is this new book really for me? Or am I just being showered with everything and anything you have on offer? As for reading submitted material, you might think that bad writing in all its forms would be a constant irritation. But once I have encountered the offending text, I simply stop reading. Bad writing actually makes my job easier.
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?
MS: I don’t have a check list. I don’t need to see anything in particular. But I need to feel that I am in capable hands.
If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
MS: Read widely.