Saturday, March 9, 2013

Interview with Jita Fumich

by Charles Kiernan

Jita Fumich first began working with Folio in 2006. She has also worked with the editorial department at Berkley Books at Penguin and with Macmillan Publishers at their self-help podcasting website, and is currently the secretary for the AAR’s Digital Rights Committee. She holds a B.A. from New York University and has taken classes at NYU’s Center for Publishing.

Jita can’t think of any better industry to be in than publishing.  Her favorite trips as a child were to the bookstore or the library, and she always tried to take home more books than she could carry.  She is excited about being part of the magical process of making an author’s idea end up on bookshelves.

Charles Kiernan: When you are slogging through romance and fantasy submissions, and your eyes glaze over, what pops out at you, calling you to pay attention to this one? Does romance and fantasy differ in what attracts your attention?

Jita Fumich:  I think it's important to have a strong log line or a succinct synopsis that really pinpoints why your story is so much more interesting or unique than anything else in my inbox.  I am not a fan of queries that try to be different in terms of format (queries that are written by the protagonist of the story, for example), but simply a clean, well-written, properly-formatted query can actually stand out from the crowd.

For that reason, what simply attracts my attention does not change whether it is fantasy, romance, or another genre entirely.

C: I am sure you keep an eye open for storylines that are fresh or have a new treatment of an old theme. At present (I know this changes quickly) what are the storylines that make you say, “Oh, not another one!”

J: Any fantasy story that involves a (generally mis-matched) group going on a quest.  The writing might be great, but this is just not a plot that makes me eager to read on.  I also see too many demons and vampires without sufficient world-building to make me believe in the author's unique vision.

C: What are the storylines that never fail, the ones that will always have an audience?

J: I would say that romance is where common storylines tend to feel tried and true rather than tired.  There are, after all, only so many ways that a couple can get together, so it is more in the drama of the story, the conflict surrounding or between them, and the setting.  However, there is no specific storyline that I can say I don't mind reading over and over--anything gets tiring after a while!

C: When you represent a work, what is the nature of the partnership you enter into with the author beyond signing a contract?

J:  Not only do I carefully work with each author on a project editorially before it is sent out, but I also believe that selling a book is no more the end of my job than writing a great one is the end of my client's.  This starts (but certainly doesn't end) with educating authors on and advocating for them during the publication process, working with them on promoting their books, and making sure to discuss and work toward achieving long-term writing/career goals.

C: Taking new authors as a group, what are their usual weak points in understanding their role in finding a publisher?

J: I wouldn't say that there is much of a role in the author *finding* a publisher--after all, that's my job!  What I would say, though, is that they need to think about building their own platform even before we send out a project.  Get involved in the reading and writing community surrounding their genre, try to make friends with other authors--make yourself and your writing as marketable as possible.

C: Again, as a group, what surprises them the most about their role after their book is published?

J: The exact same thing--that the job isn't done!  Authors need to always be thinking of ways to build their fanbase and connect with their readers.  That can mean anything from making sure to stay up to date on new social media platforms, to maintaining an active website, and other ways to reach their community.  And yes, all of this has to happen while the author is hard at work writing their next book.

C: Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed.

J: Thank you so much for interviewing me.  I very much enjoyed answering such insightful questions!

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