13 Editors Tell You What Makes Them Say ‘Yes’ to a Manuscript


A still from Genius, a feature film based on the life of legendary editor Max Perkins.


We asked our in-house editors – the yay- or nay-sayers, the people who decide whether or not to publish manuscript, the folks whom you’ll work with as they delete a word here or add a sentence there to make your book the best possible version of itself – what makes them say yes to a manuscript, an idea or a book proposal?

Here’s what they had to say.

  1. ‘I want a plot that makes me go, “Oh, really?”‘ – Ananth Padmanabhan, CEO, HarperCollins Publishers India



2. ‘An impressive first page.’ – Diya Kar Hazra, Publisher 



3.  ‘The first sentence should make me want to read the first page.’ – Udayan MitraPublisher


4. ‘The introduction and the chapter outline, and whether or not it comprehensively covers a topic. I also look at the author profile.’ – Siddhesh Inamdar, Commissioning Editor


5. ‘For me, it’s not so much about the writing, it is the story. The story should move me.’ – Rea Mukherjee, Assitant Editor



6. ‘If you’re writing a book with advice in it, make sure it’s new, well-researched, supported by examples and makes my brain pause and say, “Whoa!”‘ – Shreya Punj, Assistant Editor



7. ‘Very good writing, and a sense that the author has an interesting story to tell – and the ability to tell it.’ – Rahul Soni, Senior Commissioning Editor



8. ‘An intriguing plot-line in the synopsis and strong dialogue in the manuscript.’ – Prerna Gill, Assistant Editor

9. ‘I have only one criterion – the idea, and how well-supported it is.’ – Krishan Chopra, Publisher



10. ‘I look at the synopsis and whether it is interesting or not.’ – Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, Executive Editor



11. ‘An overwritten and over-descriptive first page is an immediate deterrent  – too many adjectives just make a sentence clunky and less effective. I tend to find that styles which use the “show, not tell” route tend to be more gripping.’ – Swati Daftuar, Commissioning Editor 



12. ‘In fiction, books that have the ability to suck you in and transport you into the world the writer has created are the ones that catch my fancy. In non-fiction, I look for an easy, non-academic writing style.’ – Prema Govindan, Commissioning Editor

13. ‘You need to have a story in your head. Even before I start reading the manuscript, if the synopsis works, you already have my full attention and an almost-yes.’ – Tina Narang, Publisher


(Have a manuscript you’d like to submit to HarperCollins India? Read the submission guidelines here.)

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