|Helping writers write for over a
Interview done on June 24, 2007
Charlotte Dillon: Tell us about yourself as an editor—and as a person
too if you like.
Savannah Clinton: I think I can do both in just a few lines. I started
as a book reviewer and then the opportunity to work with Red Sage
came along. I love being an editor. I get to be in on the groundwork
of some great manuscripts. Working with the authors as they fine-
tune their manuscript is great. Having a sense of satisfaction when
the work is finished is wonderful.
Charlotte Dillon: Tell us about your publisher.
Savannah Clinton: I’m so proud of what I do at Red Sage. We try to
recruit the best authors to tell their stories in a sensual but erotic
romance setting. Our publisher Alex Kendall has a vision that first
started when she incorporated the company around twelve years ago.
Her dream of publishing sensual women’s romance without
compromising on quality has been the paving stone for some awesome
Secret Volumes over the years and will remain the same for our
Charlotte Dillon: What is a normal workday like for you?
Savannah Clinton: I’m not sure you can call my workday normal. I
work full-time out of the house five and a half days a week. Once
home, I am editing submitted manuscripts, culling what can’t be used
and working on my own writing. I also oversee the marketing and
media relation’s for Red Sage.
Charlotte Dillon: Any special lines, projects, or plans that you would
like to mention?
Savannah Clinton: Professionally at Red Sage Publishing we will be
launching a new website eRedSage.com in the very near future, which
will be the center of our new Ebook operation. There you will find the
latest in our newly acquired work and our much loved Secrets line, as
well as a newsletter and blog, giving readers and writers the latest
news on the company.
Charlotte Dillon: Is there one mistake you see too often in
Savannah Clinton: Submitting before the manuscript is ready,
meaning proofreading for spelling errors, holes in the plot and over all
formatting. Also, for me, head hopping. I can’t get into a manuscript
when the point of view is changed without warning and for no
Charlotte Dillon: What are a couple of the biggest reasons for you to
reject a manuscript?
Savannah Clinton: Pov that would take forever to fix, a lot of
unnecessary narrative and an author not willing to work with me on
revisions. However, I have been blessed with some outstanding and
Charlotte Dillon: Is there a particular setting, theme, or type of story
that you enjoy more than most? Is there a type of the above that you
prefer the least?
Savannah Clinton: Although, Red Sage is acquiring all types of
romance sub-genres, I prefer medieval and paranormal. But, I have
to tell you Sci-fi is fast becoming a new best read for me. I love all
romance so I couldn’t really say what I loved the least.
Charlotte Dillon: What is you favorite type of hero and your favorite
type of heroine? Is there a type of either that you don't care for?
Savannah Clinton: I love alpha males. They are strong, sensual and
so hot. Give me a medieval warrior with a sword, a vampire or
werewolf with a heart and I’m in hero heaven. But again, the hero
could be penned into other genres and make me fall in love with him
as long as he knows the way to a woman’s heart. Heroines need to
have a kick-butt attitude even in historicals. Allow the man to help, it
strokes their ego, but be prepared to take matters into your own
hands if need be. I really do prefer my h/h to have some age on
them. I want to read about a man that I could not possibly have
diapered. Of course that is my personal preference. Heroines do not
have to be stick figures, give them some weight and flaws. I don’t
care for insipid heroines or cruel heroes.
Charlotte Dillon: Is there one type of plot that you have seen way too
often? A type you would like to see more often?
Savannah Clinton: As we all know in this industry, plots are a dime a
dozen. You have a formula that each individual author can make
their own. If you are writing about a heroine who suddenly finds
herself penniless, it doesn’t have to be a tale where a man saves her,
she can save herself. See what I mean? I like various plots, although
I have become hooked on paranormal but I don’t particularly care are
for demons in the books I look at.
Charlotte Dillon: Are there any taboos or big no-no’s that writers
should avoid in their stories if they hope to land a spot with your
Savannah Clinton: Too much RUE. Don’t over hash every scene.
And don’t’ leave any holes in your plot.
Charlotte Dillon: How quickly does a story have to grab you?
Savannah Clinton: If a plot doesn’t grab me within the first page or
so, I usually don’t read any further.
Charlotte Dillon: Could you name at least a couple of your favorite
books and tell us what the authors did so right?
Savannah Clinton: Too many books to name…lol. But I love
Christine Feehan. Her work is tight, the pov is great and she reels
me in with her dark heroes. I also like Suzanne Brockman’s work,
Lindsay Sands and Kathy Love; just to name a few. And we must not
forget some of our wonderful authors at Red Sage--Rae Monet, Kate
St. James and Bonnie Dee. Remember, I have been reading a long
time and there are so many outstanding authors out there who are on
top of their game.
Charlotte Dillon: What is the best way to submit to you? Query,
query and synopsis, chapters, through e-mail, snail mail, the address,
what ever we would need to know?
Savannah Clinton: Unless I have spoken to an author before hand,
say at a convention, they should submit a brief synopsis and the first
ten pages by email.
Charlotte Dillon: Could you tell us a little about what kind of
submissions you are looking for, things like word count, sexual level,
and story lines? In other words what will fit with your publisher and
Savannah Clinton: With the new ebook line, we will be accepting
different word counts for novelettes, all the way up to epic novels. We
are always looking for books that will blow us away with the story and
characters that you fall in love with. Right now, we would prefer
stories of 15,000-30,000 words.
Charlotte Dillon: How much weight does a synopsis carry when you
are judging a submission? What about a query letter?
Savannah Clinton: I glance at the synopsis to refresh my memory if I
have already spoken with an author. I prefer to read the pages and
go from there. As for a query letter, I do look at those. Keep them
short and give me the 411 quickly.
Charlotte Dillon: How often do you buy from a unpublished
Savannah Clinton: At Red Sage, our mission is the highest quality of
writing period. It doesn’t matter if an author has been published
before or not. If the quality isn’t there we will not make an offer.
Charlotte Dillon: How often do you buy something that you found in
the slush pile?
Savannah Clinton: We have always been extremely selective and will
send rejection letters fairly quickly and if a manuscript needs another
look, it is assigned to an editor, who would make the decision to reject
or try to work with the author on revisions. Our basic turnaround on
getting back to an author after they submit is within a few days to
acknowledge their submission and then two months for a yes or no.
Charlotte Dillon: Would you share with us the names of the last
three authors you bought stories from?
Savannah Clinton: Rae Monet, who won the RWA Golden Hearts
award last year for paranormal as well as Kathleen Scott and Anne
Rainey. All who are outstanding authors with great plots and
Charlotte Dillon: Do you accept un-agented or unsolicited
Savannah Clinton: Yes, we do.
Charlotte Dillon: What is the average wait time on a unsolicited
submission, and on a requested one?
Savannah Clinton: Sorry, I think I answered that above but again,
two months on both.
Charlotte Dillon: What would you call a dream submission?
Savannah Clinton: One that needs little revisions. The words
literally jump off the page and all I have to do is sit back and enjoy.
Charlotte Dillon: What would you call a nightmare submission?
Savannah Clinton: Having to put in red comments every other
sentence. I like to help authors with their craft but if they have not
already done their homework, then a rejection is almost guaranteed.
Charlotte Dillon: If you could give a new writer one piece of advice,
what would it be?
Savannah Clinton: Write from your heart, but don’t forget the
fundamentals of writing. Most newbies can’t get away with what
some of the more established authors can. Read your work aloud.
This is a good way to hear the mistakes you might not see on the
screen. Also, join writers groups and work on your craft by getting
feedback from critique groups before they submit. Everyone wants to
work with a professional. Above all, as our wonderful publisher
advised me a couple of years ago, “A winner never quits and a quitter
never wins.” Keep writing!
Interview with Red Sage
editor Savannah Clinton