Friday, January 27, 2012
Natalie Hanemann, Senior Fiction Editor at Thomas Nelson
Cara here. I invited my editor, Natalie Hanemann, to join us at Seekerville today and chat about the editing process.
Natalie is a Senior Fiction Editor at Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville, Tennessee. Before moving to Nashville in 2004, she lived in the Raleigh Durham area of North Carolina where she worked at Duke University Press. She earned her degree from Appalachian State University.
Natalie is passionate about editing Christian Romances and Women’s fiction, contemporary and historical. “Evangelizing is easier when done through story and can often leave a longer impression.”
When she isn’t reading a manuscript or changing diapers, you can find Natalie watching football or Food Network, teaching religious education, cooking, or folding the never-ending mountain of clothes in her living room.
Welcome to Seekerville, Natalie!
CARA: I know you edit historical romance and Amish fiction. Do you work on any other sub-genres? Which are your favorites?
NATALIE: I personally work on Amish, historical and contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and general Christian fiction; a little bit of everything. My favorite? I enjoy the variety. Too much of the same thing gets tiresome.
CARA: What are the acquisitions editors at Thomas Nelson looking for? What are the most popular fiction genres and sub-genres right now? What do you find the least popular?
NATALIE: We’re always on the lookout for a unique and moving story, no matter the genre. But if I had to be specific, it’d be nice to see some proposals for Biblical fiction. We’re also interested in supernatural stories and young adult novels for girls that illuminate the drama and struggles of high-school life.
Our Amish titles are very popular, for example, Beth Wiseman’s The Wonder of Your Love is doing quite well. So is the Triple Threat suspense series by Lis Wiehl/April Henry.
CARA: What are the current trends and how long do trends usually last? Which ones have lasted the longest? Are there any sub-genres that are always popular?
NATALIE: I wish I had an answer for how long a trend would last. I’d be very popular. There’s really no way of knowing how long a topic will be in-demand. We’re still seeing vestiges of the Harry Potter phenomenon. And of course, the vampire/werewolf/zombie offerings. Mostly, though, trends come and go – and then come back, usually based on a popular book in that particular subgenre. For example, when Redeeming Love hit the charts, historicals came in to fashion. Readers loved that story and wanted to prolong the experience, so they gravitated to novels with a similar setting or in the same time period. After awhile, historicals fell out of fashion—probably because the market was deluged and readers wanted some variety. The same goes for all genres, be they contemporary romances or suspense.
The longest trend we’ve seen in recent years is Amish stories. It’s safe to say that it is no longer a trend, but its own subgenre. Christian fiction readers have an insatiable appetite for Amish novels. The market has piqued and what will remain in the years to come is the best of the best. The authors who have a true passion for this peaceful people and who are master storytellers.
CARA: Tell us about the different parts of the editing process? When you buy a book what happens between the contract and the finished product?
NATALIE: Every publishing house is different. Here at Thomas Nelson fiction, once the contract is signed and the manuscript is turned it, a developmental editor will read it and make suggestions to strengthen the story. We’re a collaborative house, so we work closely with authors on their stories; the plot, character arcs, theme, and overall tone and pace. After the story is intact, it gets line edited. If the developmental edit is laying the slab and framing the house, a line edit is installing the dry wall. It’s an intricate look at the scenes, tightening the language, and cleaning up the text to meet the standards of The Chicago Manual of Style. Lastly, your book is typeset and then proofread. This stage is like applying paint to your walls and putting down the carpeting. Consistency in punctuation, capitalization, usage of numbers, and a hundred other little things is what the proofreader is catching. Then the book goes to the printer! A happy day for everyone involved.
CARA: At Thomas Nelson how are e-books selling compared to print books? Will you ever switch over entirely to e-books?
NATALIE: There isn’t a time in the near future where the printed book will just go away. Readers enjoy having the option between an actual book and downloading one onto their e-readers.
It’s an exciting time to be in book publishing as consumer habits are changing and it’s affecting how books are sold. Fortunately, it doesn’t change the content. An editor’s role is unchanged: make the story the best it can be.
About 30% of Thomas Nelson Fiction titles are e-books; and this number is growing. Opportunities to modify the way we market and sell books are endless and we’re experimenting with new ideas all the time.
Publishing hasn’t experienced so much change since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press. While where you purchase your book may be different – and what you’re holding may feel different – I’m thankful that the art of storytelling will stay the same.
Thanks for being with us today, Natalie!
If anyone has any questions for Natalie, please ask away.
She’ll be giving away an advanced copy of Beth Wiseman’s upcoming contemporary women’s fiction novel, Need You Now.