LynDee Walker’s new book, Buried Leads, is due out in October. I am very excited to start talking about it, but you’re going to have to wait just a little longer–ee! Meanwhile, I had the great pleasure of meeting LynDee’s editor, Kendel Flaum, and thought you’d enjoy hearing from her. As the managing editor of Henery Press, she has great insight and is, of course, very interesting.
But don’t just take my word for it. This is Kendel’s bio:
Kendel Flaum is a Southern California native who now parks her flip flops in Dallas, Texas. Deciding to combine her fifteen years of entrepreneurial savvy and over a decade of designing, writing, and editorial experience, she launched Henery Press, an independent publishing house focused on mystery and suspense. As managing editor, she’s always looking for captivating stories — from cozies and crime capers to paranormals and PIs. She’s got a coop full of award-winners and nominees in the Hen House, and just loves finding a gem in the slush pile.
Henery Press is an independent publisher in the mystery/suspense genre focused on engaging stories with sharp twists and lively characters. We want every reader to enjoy a captivating story written by a talented author wrapped in a pretty package.
Q) I love the story of how Henery Press came to be. Will you please tell it for our audience?
Let me nutshell it for your readers: It started from a love of writing. Which led me to an amazing organization, Sisters in Crime, and its upstart sub-chapter, the Guppies. I met my mentor there, I met my bff there, and I met 500+ mystery writers looking to be published there. After several years, Diane Vallere, the aforementioned bff, and I decided to create a sub-chapter of the Guppies called called Press Quest where we’d spearhead the efforts to compile information on every mid-to-small-to boutique press open to mystery writers. We researched until our fingers cramped – we detailed lists, facts, databases, interviews, websites, and on-the-ground commentary.
Some of that commentary proved scary: contracts that fell apart, offers to publish in weeks (weeks! oy.), cringe-worthy covers, non-existent support. After years of being in the trenches, writing, editing, designing, I decided there had to be a better way. One with a chicken at the helm. (Side note: In a previous life, I spent over fifteen years building a completely separate business from dollar one into a multi-million dollar company, so I knew what it would take.)
That’s some nutshell.
Q) When we met, we talked about how covers sell books. The cover art coming out of Henery is every kind of eye-catching, captivating, and charming. Who creates the art, and how do you fit the art to the book?
Why, thank you for the kind words! I absolutely believe the cover is essential to the book, everyone likes to see a pretty package. We consult with the author to get their take, then meet with the in-house staff to discuss. Once we have a concept, we’ll either design here or hire freelance – or both.
Q) What are the most challenging, and the most delightful aspects of your work?
The nuts and bolts of publishing can be the most challenging, probably because it’s not as much fun as engaging artwork and intriguing editorial. It’s also quite a challenge to find manuscripts – our catalog has limited space (about 2 books per month), and we’re building quite a niche in the mystery market.
Q) A good editor can help an author craft a decent manuscript into a great book. How do help an author on the edge of greatness make that leap?
Agreed, an editor can see things the author can’t. Mostly because the author has read the manuscript about 113 times. I’d say the most useful tool in the box is remembering “less is more.” Truly, tighten, tighten, tighten. Keep the dialog snappy, the scenes vivid, and the narrative on point. And when if your beta readers all love your work, you need new betas.You need the beta who enjoys your writing, but dishes out the sharp critiques. Like you said, it’s turning decent into great.
Q) How can an author make an editor’s job easier?
Don’t forgo the beta/editor stage when writing the second, third, fourth books. When you wrote your first, it probably went through 57 drafts, plus a multitude of critiques, contests, betas, and revisions. Over and over and over again until that baby sparkled. Now that you’ve sold it, and it’s published, and you’re onto the next, take the same care. Only more. Push yourself to be better, stronger. And that generally means better betas. (I’m sensing a theme…)
Q) What advice would you give to aspiring editors? Or people looking to break into publishing on the publishing house side of the industry?
Start freelancing. Even if you don’t get paid in the beginning, just to prove your work. Start with 50 page critiques, and move on from there. Read every writing book you can get your hands on, read lots of genres to understand techniques. Then grab an internship if you can find one. Nothing like learning from the inside.
Q) What was your favorite book growing up?
Just one? I’m torn between A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, and The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot.
Lane, thank you so much for having me. It was a delight to meet you in person, and an honor to be featured on your blog!