Giving you the Industry Insight today is Norma Perez-Hernandez from Kensington Books. She is thrilled to be building a list with diverse authors and books.
Norma Perez-Hernandez is an assistant editor at Kensington Publishing Corp. She has worked on a variety of projects, including fiction, romance, mysteries, thrillers, and non-fiction. A New York City native, Norma studied English literature at the Macaulay Honors College at The City College of New York and is a graduate of the Publishing Certificate Program at City College.
We asked her the most pressing questions on our minds as writers all querying into the abyss.
As an editor, what's the first thing that draws you to a story/author?
Usually one of the quickest ways to my editor heart is a strong voice. A voice that has energy and belongs to a well developed character.
We all love a fluffy HEA, but what tips a book over from romantic into cheesy?
I feel like we’ve, in a way, moved past an epilogue that has everything tied up in a bow, with a wedding and 2.5 children for the heroine and hero. I’m not sure if that’s cheesy, but most romances I read tend to show more varied happily ever afters.
What are your biggest bugbears when reading a submission?
Non. Paginated. Documents. Sometimes I read submissions on paper (shocking, I know!) and it hurts when I realize the 200+ pages I’ve printed have no page numbers. If I drop the manuscript, I’m doomed.
Once an author's finished a manuscript and is ready to send it in, what are the key points that should be included in their query letter, and is there anything that shouldn't be left out of the synopsis?
The key points in their query letter (if it’s a romance) should include a few lines about each character, the story line, the word count, and genre. I think if you’re able to get the internal and external conflicts into the synopsis, that is particularly helpful.
What do you think is the next trend in romance publishing and is there a specific subgenre that you think is making a comeback?
If I knew the answer, I wouldn’t share it! In all seriousness, I think romance publishers are showing excitement for the resurgence of the rom-com in fiction.
Has there been an attempt to diversify editors and those working behind the scenes in publishing, as there has been to embrace diverse authors?
Honestly, I wouldn’t know, since I don’t work in an HR capacity. I will say that there are some great initiatives that have existed to support diverse people working in publishing, like People of Color in Publishing and Latinx in Publishing. There is also the Representation Matters program, which offers mentorships to people of color interested in the editorial side of publishing. I’m also keeping fingers crossed that there will be good news coming from Lee & Low’s latest diversity in publishing survey.
How often do you get to read new manuscripts and submissions?
*cries into the kindle queue void*
What's the one thing you wish authors knew about your job?
I wish and hope that authors know that editors are eager for their work to succeed!
And what are you looking for right now?
I’m looking for contemporary and historical romance, mysteries of all subgenres, and select science fiction and fantasy.
Norma Perez-Hernandez is the Assistant Editor of Kensington Books. You can find out more about Norma on Twitter, and about the company at KensingtonBooks.com.
Have you seen results of movements to diversify writers and publishing? Join the conversation with #IndustryInsights and comment below with suggestions for what you want to see in this space.