Asides · Editors' Desks · Inside HarperCollins India

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

 

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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

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

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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 

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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

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

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