Monday, December 21, 2009

Professionalism is the ticket for this small press editor

This week Write Stuff conference co-chair Tammy Burke interviewed editor Renee Rocco, who with husband Frank Rocco owns Lyrical Press, a small general fiction publisher based in New York. Write Stuff conferees may request an opportunity to pitch their work to Renee. Although Lyrical Press is actively seeking erotica and romance and paranormal sub-genres, they welcome all submissions (including action-adventure, fantasy, historical, horror, humor, mystery, science fiction) except screenplays, young adult and poetry works. At this time Lyrical Press is closed to self-published and/or previously published works and will not consider works longer than 100,000 words.

Tammy Burke: What writing qualities do you look for in an author? What do you admire? What are your pet peeves?

Renee Rocco: I look for professionalism, above all else. An author who treats their writing as a career is open to constructive criticisms that will result in better story structure, richer settings and stronger characterization. I admire writers who respect that publishing is a business and seek to grow in storytelling ability. As for a pet peeve... I’d say writers who call their books/characters their "children." When a writer makes the decision to publish their work, that's exactly what it becomes. Work. They need to look at their writing as the foundation for their career and not get in their own way by being "motherly" toward their written words. Those words are the tools of their careers.

T: What tip would you give a new author trying to get published?

R: Always present yourself in a professional manner. Follow submission guidelines. Be open to constructive criticism from critique partners, publishers, editors or friends. If you're blocking constructive criticism and only open to praise, how can you ever learn your writing weaknesses and improve upon them?


T: Where do you see the publishing industry going in the future?

B: As kids who are born and bred on computers grown up into eager readers, I see publishing heading toward a more digital era. We're already pointed in that direction, but I really do see digital books gaining momentum and popularity in the years to come. I also see print never leaving us—thankfully! But as technology advances, publishers would be best served to find ways to keep up with whatever the future holds by way of digital reading. 

T: How do you prefer to receive submissions? Do you prefer established authors over new authors? And how likely is it that a new author will join your stable?

R: I personally love to find that shining new voice. I was given the chance of a lifetime when I was offered my first publishing contract, and I love giving a new author that same chance. Although having an established voice join Lyrical Press is just as rewarding. With the help of the Internet, authors have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips and can learn plenty about any given publisher prior to submitting. Each submission, to me, is an honor, since it means an author trusts Lyrical enough to publish their work. I never take any submission for granted and we truly do give everyone a fighting chance at impressing us at the submission stage.

T: What are your expectations for an author’s business and promotional skills?

R: I expect an author to act as the business they are. Lyrical expects them to go out to the public and prove to readers their work deserves to be seen. Authors like that make Frank and I take notice. It motivates us to help them promote. In this day and age—and with small presses especially—authors can't sit back and think their books will sell themselves. Publishers won’t throw opportunities their way if they lack the motivation to so much as secure a website for themselves. That smacks of bad business and trust me: publishers notice that as well.

T: What do you like to read for your own pleasure? What are some of your favorite authors and books?

R: My favorite book is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I love all things medieval, so I mainly read historicals for pleasure. And paranormals. I'm still a sucker for a good vampire story—pardon the pun!

Happy holidays everybody! Watch this blog and the GLVWG Yahoo Group for news about the conference website, which will soon go live. Write Stuff registration opens in 25 days!


  1. Fantastic interview! I am honored to be a member of the Lyrical Family and look forward to meeting up with Renee and Frank and the conference!!

  2. Stephanie, have you been published by Lyrical Press? What sort of book? Anything you could add here about your experience would be of interest to conferees interested in pitching to Renee, I would think.

  3. I am in the process actually! My book is Chick Lit. Just started copy edits with my fantastic editor!! Everyone at Lyrical has been wonderful and I truly feel like my book has landed in the right hands!!

    I came across Lyrical's website on and was immediately blown away by their cover art. I perused their titles and thought that maybe my book would fit too. I followed their submission guidelines and a week or so later, I received the most exciting email of my life!