Faces of Publishing: Michael Homler, St. Martin’s Press (March, 2012)

Michael Homler

Michael Homler is an Editor at St. Martin’s Press.  He has worked on a number of terrific books from the forthcoming JOE GOLEM AND THE DROWNING CITY by Mike Mignola and Chris Golden to Jonathan Maberry’s DEAD OF NIGHT and his Joe Ledger series.  He has also published Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series, and the literary biographies HIDING MAN, JUST ONE CATCH, and JAMES TIPTREE JR.

Michael Homler

Alex C. Telander: When did you know you wanted to become an editor?

Michael Homler: Probably about two years into the job when I realized that it could be a fun profession and that you could get excited about producing books people love to read.

Alex: How did you get started in publishing?

Michael: I started out as an assistant and climbed the proverbial ladder.

Alex: What does an ordinary day look like for you?

Michael: It’s usually a lot of running around to meetings, putting out small fires, and fielding phone calls.  There’s some reading that goes on, but most of that is done at home.

Alex: How many projects are you usually working on at one time?

Michael: That’s hard to answer because it can vary dramatically.  I’d say a season (we have three) I’m usually working on seven to eight original titles and then there are also some paperback conversions thrown in there.

Alex: How long does it take you to edit the average book?

Michael: Probably about a week or two.

Alex: How does the editing process work: do you edit the manuscript and send it back to the author, or do it in parts, or meet and work with the author, or something else?

Michael: Again, something that probably depends on the book.  With fiction I think I tend to offer commentary that helps make the story stronger or fixes some weaker points.  With non-fiction, it’s a similar process but I feel like you have a little more leeway to line edit sometimes.

Alex: With the Internet and ebooks, what are some of the changes you’ve seen in publishing as an editor in the last five years?

Michael: Well, we mostly get our submissions over email these days.  It wasn’t that long ago actually that we were dragging around pages.  I prefer things this way.  Most everything is pretty accessible, so it make reading a little easier.

E-books are growing so those changes are going to keep coming.  It’s very hard to say how drastic the shift will be and when, but I do think it will reach a point where the amount of print and e-books we sell will be equal.

Alex: What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

Michael: I don’t really know much about it.  I think for some people it works.  Or at least they are able to make it work.  And for others, I think they struggle with it.

Alex: What publishing method do you recommend aspiring writers follow?

Michael: There’s no right answer to this.  You can get published in so many different ways.  Certainly short stories in literary journals if you want to be a literary writer—then hopefully someone notices you.  Commercial stuff you probably need to secure an agent and see if they can sell it.  You can also try the self-publishing method, the original e-book one.  It does seem to work for some people.

Alex: Have you or are you interested in publishing your own work?

Michael: I have, and still am.

Alex: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Michael: Read, go to the gym.

Alex: Where do you see publishing ten years from now?

Michael: Well, I hope that it’s a more technological industry.  We tend to adapt to changes fairly slowly.  But I mostly see it as being the same just with a greater emphasis placed on e-books.  For all the changes that come along, the books still have to be good and they still have to reach an audience.


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