It is with great pleasure that I welcome our newest visiting professor, Leslie Wainger, Editor and Book Doctor, to Romance University. Before making the decision to write for the purpose of publication, I picked up her book, Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies, and read it from cover to cover. It is now a sea of pink and orange highlights. All my questions were answered in an informative and personable way. I consider Leslie’s book my most valued writing reference guide and owe her a great deal of thanks.
Today, we’re here to talk about about her role as a Book Doctor. Read on to find out how a 30-year veteran can help take your manuscript to the next level.
Tracey: Hi, Leslie! Tell us what it means to be a Book Doctor.
Leslie: The main thing I do is analyze partial and complete MSs for authors. Each report is totally individualized to the book, with the goal of making it stronger and more marketable. I work with both unpublished authors and published authors who’ve hit a wall or are looking to make a change.
Tracey: How long have you offered this service to writers?
Leslie: This is the third year, but I’ve been an editor for 30.
Tracey: What issues are you typically addressing when writing your analysis? Does it include grammar and plot structure?
Leslie: I’ll talk generally about grammar if it’s an issue, but an analysis is not an edit, so I don’t go through and correct all the grammar. (I do offer freelance edits, but not only is that a much more expensive proposition, I will only do it for a book I feel is ready for an edit, not a book that still needs major structural work.) My main focus is on characterization, plotting, structure…the big-picture creative issues.
Tracey: Do published or non-published writers use your service the most?
Leslie: More unpublished than published, but I do work with both.
Tracey: When does it make the most sense in one’s writing career to hire a Book Doctor?
Leslie: Basically, if you’ve done everything you can think of and the book’s not selling, or you know there’s a problem and aren’t sure how to fix it, it’s time to consider a book doctor. Think of it as going to your GP. You know when you can’t fix something with aspirin and a bandage, and this is pretty much the same thing. I also vet query letters, which is less about the book itself and more about helping the author to sell it effectively.
Tracey: What’s the turnaround time for a partial manuscript analysis? A full?
Leslie: I don’t differentiate between the two. Everything goes in the same line-up. My turnaround has been running 6-8 months, because my analyses (4-12 single-spaced pages) are very time consuming, which is why they’re so thorough and book-specific. The turnaround for query letters is a couple of weeks.
Tracey: Do you know if any of your clients have been published as a direct result of your service?
Leslie: I know one incorporated my suggestions into a series she sold, but I’m not sure which version the acquiring editor saw. A number of other projects are on submission now, but that can be a lengthy process, so I haven’t heard news yet (and of course no one’s under any obligation to tell me).
Tracey: What do you enjoy most about being a Book Doctor?
Leslie: I’ve always liked helping and finding new writers, and that’s a big part of what book doctoring is about.
RU Readers, there you have it. Do you have a burning question for Leslie? Be sure to post it in the comments section. Leslie’s generously agreed to pop in a few times during the day.
Leslie Wainger joined Silhouette Books as an editorial assistant in August 1979 and was part of the editorial team that launched the company’s first series, Silhouette Romance, as well as numerous series since.
Her experience has brought her to her current position as Editor-at-Large, Single Titles. Now she works with a number of MIRA, HQN and Silhouette authors, including Linda Howard, Emilie Richards, Heather Graham, Curtiss Ann Matlock, Rachel Lee, Maggie Shayne, Kathleen Eagle, Susan Krinard and Sharon Sala.
She is also the author of “Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies” (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004), the 2005 recipient of Romance Writers of America’s industry award and a freelance book doctor. Visit her site at www.lesliewainger-bookdoctor.com for more information.
Please be sure to join us on Monday when Adrienne gets “straight talk” from Susan Gibberman, RWA’s 2007 Librarian of the Year.
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