Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Interview with TWRP Editor-in-Chief Rhonda Penders

Hi everyone! Today is our very special interview with The Wild Rose Press's Editor-in-Chief, Rhonda Penders. Thank you for this opportunity, Rhonda. Let's give her a warm Deadly Vixen welcome! =) Feel free to ask questions as Rhonda will probably be around off and on. Enjoy!


1. Tell us a little about The Wild Rose Press's history.

The Wild Rose Press opened its doors on May 1, 2006 with 2 owners and 6 editors. The company was started by RJ Morris and Rhonda Penders as a publishing house “by writers – for writers”. The owners knew what they did not want a publishing house to be like and set the world on fire by giving romance writers a kinder and gentler experience. The garden grew very quick and now is home to over 1100 titles and 500 authors. There are 14 sub-genres of romance and there are close to 70 staff members including artists, editors, professional readers, marketing folks, etc.

2. Where do you see The Wild Rose Press being five years from now?

The reputation of the company is such that in five years it will be considered one of the top romance publishing companies within the small press arena. It will rank up there with Samhain, possibly Ellora’s Cave, and a the others who today set the standards for small press.

3. What do you see in the future for ebooks? The romance genre?

eBooks are the future. I’ve said all along that today’s generation, the kids coming up who are in their early teens, and even early 20’s won’t care about holding a printed book in their hand. They are all about the download. They buy their music this way, their movies, they will buy their books in the same manner. eReaders will become more and more affordable and more and more people will own them. Once these become the norm, it only make sense that ebooks will skyrocket in sales. The romance genre will never go away. The readers of romance and the future readers of romance still want the happy ever after. They will evolve as they have today offering more and more choices – inspirational or erotic, historical or paranormal, there will be tons of choices of romance but in the end the boy will meet the girl, the boy will lose the girl but the boy will always get the girl back.

4. What draws you, as a reader, to romance novels?

That’s easy. The happy ever after. I’ve been reading romance novels literally my entire life –cutting my teeth at around age 11 on the old Harlequin Presents. I adore the fact that no matter how bad things get in the book, the hero and heroine will work it out and be together in the end. I need to know that going in. Life is tough enough, there’s enough heartbreak out there in reality that when I read for pleasure I want to know its all going to be ok. I think most romance readers agree with that. The second thing that draws me to a romance is that chance to feel that “high” of falling in love, whether for the first time or a reunion story, there’s nothing like that chemistry, that amazing feeling when the hero and heroine first kiss or first connect.

5. What do you look for in a manuscript for it to be publishable?

I like to be drawn to the characters and the storyline. I like that “need” to turn the next page. If I can set it down and walk away, its not working for me.

6. What do you like most/dislike most about your job?

I love the people I meet, whether virtually or in person. I love helping someone’s dreams come true. There’s not a lot I hate about the job unless it’s when I have to deal with sensitive issues. There are times when I’ve had to make an unpopular decision that leaves an author “upset” I hate that part. I hate it when due to poor communication or something, a problem escalates until it hits my desk and I have to sort it out, generally this means that neither party is happy with me.

7. What is your pet peeve when dealing with authors?

My biggest pet peeve is that an author on occasion thinks because she has one story published she is now Nora Roberts. She can call the shots and decide how things are going to go. She thinks we should publish everything because we published one story. There are very few authors who will see everything they write published. Authors need to realize that while their work is important, they are one author among many. I try hard to treat them all fairly and individually but they are one author in a house with over 500. Authors tend to think they should be the only project on an editor’s desk. It simply isn’t true.

8. What sort of reactions do you get when you tell people you work for The Wild Rose Press?

People in the romance writing world are usually very enthusiastic and love the company; people who aren’t in writing or romance reading really have no idea what it’s all about and can even begin to imagine how busy we are.

9. What is it like being an editor?

It’s a great job for the most part. Like any it has its ups and downs. Editing a really awesome book is such a huge thrill, seeing it come out in print and watching it evolve is great. But editing a book that isn’t so hot and you need to go back and forth with the author several times is basically very painful and tedious. I’ve made some wonderful friends in this business, authors who I never would have met had I not been in this job.

10. What is your favorite romance sub-genre?

I like contemporary romance. Pretty much that’s it. I’m not a fan of paranormal or historicals or suspense. I like a good sold modern day romance. My particular favorite are cowboys. Put a man in a Stetson on the cover, toss in a horse and a cute title and you got my money every day. So for The Wild Rose Press, I’m a huge fan of the Yellow Rose line.

11. What is your favorite part of the editing process?

My favorite part is the first read.

12. What is your least favorite part of the editing process?

Having to tell a writer this isn’t working especially when there’s nothing really “wrong” with the manuscript, you can’t put your finger on it, but the story is just boring or blah. Its hard to tell a writer you’re story has put me to sleep.

13. What is your response time?

I’m pretty quick. I can read a full manuscript in a few hours if I clear my plate, a few days for the norm. I also know within a very short few pages if the story is going to work or not for me. Sometimes it takes me a while to compose a rejection because I need to word it just right but generally I know within a couple days if the book is going to make it or not.

14. What is your advice to an aspiring author who wants to be published with your company?

Read what we publish. We have free reads all over the web site for most of the lines, read them. Study them. Read our submissions guidelines, don’t submit something to us we don’t publish in the hopes that we will take it “just this one time for you”. We won’t. We only publish romance and there are some amazing articles on our site that tell you what a romance is and what it isn’t. Once you’ve followed all the rules, go through your story for mechanical errors; don’t send us something with typos in it. Get involved if you are a new writer. There’s a Rose Trellis which is our critique group; there are loops and blogs, study them. Don’t just send something in hoping we’ll review it if its not ready to be reviewed. Study our self-editing articles that are in the Greenhouse. Once you’re manuscript is ready, follow our submission guidelines and send in the very best product you can. Write the story from your heart and put your passion for it in there. Remember the rules of romance writing – make your reader fall in love with your hero, write a heroine that we all want to either be or have as our best friend. Don’t try to write something for what you think is “the market”. Write what you are good at writing and what you like reading. Above all once you submit, be patient, but know our timelines and if you think its been too long past our deadline (we respond to queries within 30-45 days – if you haven’t heard something in 60 that’s a problem) you should politely inquire as to whether your query is still under review.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed by the guest blogger do not necessarily reflect those of The Deadly Vixens.

9 deadly screams:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ms. Penders,

I have two questions.

1. When an editor requests a full manuscript via email, should you email her in return to thank her and let her know you received her email?

2. How long does an editor expect to see a full manuscript after s/he requests it?

Thanks so much.


Molly Daniels said...

Great advice, Rhonda:) I like the fact your comapny has different roses for the sub-genres! In fact, I'm getting ready to submit to your company; I'll be sending it in a week or two, when it's polished.

And as I've stated, the best rejection I ever got came from TWRP; not a form letter, but with a detailed critique of how I could improve the storyline.

Sonja Foust said...

Thanks for doing that interview, Rhonda! It was fun. :)

Helen Hardt said...

Excellent information. Thank you!

Rhonda said...

I posted an answer to this already so I apologize if it suddenly shows up twice.

Thanks for the question TLC. Yes you should always let an editor know you've received her email concerning a request for the full manuscript. You should also try to give her a timeframe of when you will get back to her. Editors would rather you take 6 months if it means a cleaner manuscript; but let her know that it will be a while so she isn't waiting each day for it.

If we don't hear from you, and we don't get teh manuscript in a reasonable timeframe, we assume you aren't interested and after a month or so we mark your record as "author never responded".

Thanks for the question.


Rhonda said...


Thanks for the kind words about our rejection process. Our policy is to only send personalized rejection letters and when possible some brief edits on your work to give you an indication of what we're seeing wrong. We want every writer who comes "to the garden" to have a positive experience even if they are being rejected. I wish you the best of luck with your next query.

Thank you.


Gracen Miller said...

Thanks so much for blogging with us today, Rhonda. It is a huge honor to have you! I enjoyed hearing about the ebook industry from the owner/editor point of view. It helped me understand where you are coming from.

Thanks for the helpful advice as well. Us writers can always use advice.

Thanks again.

Sarah Mäkelä said...

Thank you so much for the interview, Rhonda. It's an honor to have you here at The Deadly Vixens. =) You gave excellent advice and insight.

Sierra Wolfe said...

Excellent interview Rhonda. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us. I really enjoyed reading your comments.