Eighteen of the UK’s leading fiction editors describe the kinds of books they are looking to commission in 2013…
I publish fiction, mainly crime/thrillers, and I thrive on discovering new talent. My list ranges from ‘up and comers’ Belinda Bauer, S. J. Bolton & Wiley Cash, to brand names Mo Hayder and Tess Gerritsen. I am excited by genre-busting authors such as Kate Atkinson, Rosamund Lupton and S J Watson.
Forgive the clichés, but I’m looking for compelling storytelling, quality writing and a killer concept that taps into our everyday fears. For me to publish a book passionately, I want it to give me palpitations because I haven’t read anything like it before, or because it is twisting the genre, bringing a unique voice to the table, taking me into a world not so different from my own and terrifying me.
If this is a series, give me characters I’ll yearn to meet again. It helps if an author is prepared to work hard to establish themselves and compete with the heavyweights in a very crowded area of the market. It is also important to know what ideas new authors have beyond their first book.
Katherine Armstrong, Editor (Crime), Faber and Faber
The e-book explosion over the past couple of years has been particularly good for genre fiction, especially crime and thrillers, and I don’t see this appetite abating any time soon. My first acquisition as a Commissioning Editor, Chris Ewan’s wonderful Safe House, has been incredibly successful on e-book, as has Julia Heaberlin’s debut Playing Dead. For an editor the e-book age heralds a different way to think about the written word and how it’s read by people, especially a more technologically adept new generation.
I specialize in crime and thriller fiction and I am always on the lookout for books that have strong central characters, good writing but, above all, a narrative that hooks me in and keeps my interest right to the end. If it’s a ‘whodunit’ then nothing annoys me more than guessing the killer by chapter five (my record is by chapter four!). I always like reading manuscripts that offer a different take on the genre: something that, while it might have been done before, delivers in a surprisingly different way.
Emma Buckley, Editor, Random House
I am a fiction editor at Transworld lucky enough to publish across a range of genres, which is perfect for me as my tastes are quite eclectic. I currently have several women’s fiction, historical and crime novels on my list and am always on the lookout for the next book I can’t put down, or that I’m still thinking about days after finishing, or which I find myself re-reading paragraphs of because it’s so beautifully written.
The fiction that appeals to me tends to be character-led with a strong voice and a compelling central hook. In terms of women’s fiction, I love novels that are well-written but deal with fairly substantial or gritty themes – stories that can combine a huge emotional punch with commercial appeal. I love historical fiction with a really strong, appealing protagonist who can convincingly take the reader with them on their adventures in another period. And I love a good mystery – crime novels that race along, twist and turn and keep you up at night.
Regardless of genre, I am ultimately looking for unforgettable books that demand to be talked about, that you feel a need to share and pass on to others as soon as you’ve finished them.
Read the rest at Andrew Lownie Literary Agency