Ann Leslie: Bringing Passion to Romance Writing, by Heidi L. Windmiller

“Our authors must have a passion, a real excitement for the field of romance writing,” says Silhouette associate editor Ann Leslie. “I know I am very excited about being an editor at Silhouette, and I wake up each morning and look forward to work. Likewise, I think writers must feel that writing romances is what they really want to do, and love what they are doing. That passion will translate to the editor.”

Leslie first entered publishing as a reference book editor at Scribners. But her love of reading romance led her to a job at Silhouette. “I realized this kind of fiction was what I really wanted to do, and it had always been my dream to nurture my own base of authors,” she says. “I had always read women’s fiction, and I wanted to edit and publish the type of fiction I was actually reading.” Leslie’s first position, as a freelance reader reviewing unsolicited manuscripts, led to a promotion to assistant editor and later to her current position of associate editor.

“In acquiring and editing romance books, I have about 28 authors I directly work with, and I am involved in all stages, from finding new talent to working with authors who are already with us,” Leslie says. “It is really exciting to go from the point of discovering a special manuscript in a writing contest or helping an author find their next story to seeing it on the shelf.”

Here she takes time out of her editing schedule to discuss what Silhouette editors look for in manuscripts, and how writers might break into the market.

Do you prefer to contract previously unpublished writers for more than one novel?

Generally, if it is an author who is previously unpublished, we would start with a one-book contract. Unlike other houses, we often contract the author’s next book before we have sales figures on the first titles in an attempt to build the author’s presence in a line. Then authors work their way up. It all depends upon the author’s track record, and it is very specific to that author.

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