For many of us, when we consider purchasing a book, we look at the cover, read the back blurb, and scan chapter one for the hook unaware of the process and the professionals involved in creating the book. We may recognize the author or perhaps the publisher, but what role did the editor-in-chief play in the creation of the book? I had the privilege of interviewing Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief of Pelican Book Group. Pelican is the premier publisher of Christian, inspirational fiction and the first publisher to dedicate an entire imprint to promoting purity.
In this article, Nicola provides an insight into her world in producing Christian fiction books, and how her faith is an integral part every step of the way.
Tell us about your path in becoming an editor-in-chief
I started acquiring Christian fiction for a publisher in 2006 as an editor for their inspirational imprint, White Rose. In 2009, I purchased White Rose from that company, and started the journey of publishing as an independent. White Rose Publishing became an imprint of Pelican Book Group, and over the years, we added new imprints.
Can you describe a typical day in the office?
After personal morning devotions, I spend time answering emails. Depending on deadlines and other schedules, I might spend more or less time getting through emails. I’ve gotten it down to a routine of answering emails only twice per day unless there’s something time-sensitive or pressing. With my morning email stint finished, I work through my to-do list, which could include office/accounting work or editing tasks, considering requests for contract, figuring out cover art, working on marketing either in-house or coordinated with the distributor.
Just before midday, I’ll stop to get together with staff to pray. We pray daily for the needs of the company and our authors and staff and for any special requests we receive through the prayer submission form we have on our website. Pelican is a ministry first, so our prayer time could be an hour or sometimes longer. We deliberately don’t put a time-frame on that part of our day. (You know what they say: If you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy!)
Once a week, I’ll conference with our marketing director. We take that time either to consider current marketing strategies or to brainstorm ideas and discuss/decide upon the opportunities passed along to us through our distributor or PR.
In May 2017 we launched a weekly TV show, and so a couple days a week, working on that production is in my schedule.
How many different hats do you wear?
Only about four hundred, or so. 🙂 As publisher as well as editor-in-chief, I’m responsible for the business side of everything from contracts to accounting, etc. Because I feel a strong responsibility to the Gospel, I also try to vet every story we publish, so I do a good deal of reading and evaluating manuscripts as the final step before offering a contract. When I can’t read a manuscript an editor would like to acquire, that editor and I have discussions about what should be acquired. Then there’s editing and coordinating marketing efforts with our marketing team, coordinating releases with the distributor, working on subsidiary rights…the list goes on.
What do you look for in new writing?
I’m always looking for passion. Be enthusiastic about your story—believe in getting your message out there through the entertaining word—so much that it rubs off on others.
I want to see great story-telling. Make me laugh out loud, empathize with your character, hate your villain, and to fall in love with Christ a little bit more.
Don’t “tell” me your mission. “Show” me. For example: If you have to repeat the same thing three different ways (over-writing) or explain in minute detail why a character is doing something or saying something (over-simplifying), rather than having that information flow naturally, then you’ve missed the opportunity to immerse me in the reality you’ve created.
What excites you about the publishing industry?
I get excited when authors get excited, when they are so happy to see their work come to fruition, when they are raring to get their book into the hands of readers. As an author myself, I still remember what it feels like to get that contract offer, to see edits for the first time, to receive a release date, to see the cover art and the final product. It’s exciting! And I love getting to share that with authors.
On a more company-centric note, I’m excited that we’re seeing more of our books in audio.
Can you share any trends with us?
We’ve been hearing about it for a little while now, but audio is definitely on the rise. It’s one of the reasons we’ve made the decision in 2018 to produce more of our current and favorite titles in audio.
Christine Schimpf was born and raised in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and is an award winning essayist. Her debut novel, Nick, The Journey of a Lifetime is based on the life of her grandfather-in-law. Five years after its release, the book remains the #1 best seller in her hometown at a local book store and gift shop. Christine is a member of the national and local chapters of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association and the Romance Writers of America. She lives on five acres in the country with her husband and golden retriever and is now fortunate to devote most of her time to writing. She always has a work-in-progress, but in her spare time, she enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and simply being outdoors as that is her source of inspiration. Her advice to those wanting to take the leap into writing is to join a writing/critique group, read as often as you can, and study the craft.