Michelle Meade is an editor at MIRA who enjoys books, Doritos and wine—preferably at the same time. She joined Harlequin in 2010 as a proofreader, where she spent her days happily making romance grammatically correct. In 2011 she became a part of MIRA team, where she enjoys the thrill of discovering new voices in commercial literary fiction. She lives in Toronto, Canada, but you can find her on Twitter @MichelleEllise.
Michelle and I have an interesting story (well, at least I think we do) — one that spans two manuscripts. When I went out on submission with my first (actually second, but who’s counting?) book, Michelle actually contacted my agent after reading the blurb in my agency’s catalogue. She took that book to acquisitions — a mystical and nerve-wracking meeting full of people at the publishing house, including editorial teams, marketing, PR, the overseas department — which is where the publisher decides whether or not to offer on a book. Book one didn’t make it past acquisitions.
However, because I had been working on my next book while book one was on submission (pro tip: ALWAYS BE WRITING), Carolyn (my agent) was able to provide a blurb for book two. And Michelle remembered the blurb, was intrigued, and requested the manuscript when it was ready. Exactly a year ago today (Happy anniversary, Michelle) we accepted a two-book deal with MIRA!
Michelle is an amazing editor. She is as thoughtful as she is thorough (you should see this woman’s spreadsheets) with both her communications and editorial vision, and has a knack for knowing what revisions are needed to elevate the story. She is quick to praise but also quick to push hard — and that style works wonders for my creativity and Type-A motivation to make things as perfect as I can. She has more than once given me a Coach Taylor-worthy (for other Friday Night Lights fans out there) speech to get me unstuck, and tells me repeatedly that her door — and email/phone line — is always open. But mostly? I trust her, and believe together we make my books better. What more could you ask for in an editor?
So please welcome Michelle to this week’s Deb Ball, and be sure to read to the end for a surprise (COVER REVEAL!) …
How many pages into a manuscript do you know it’s something you want to acquire?
Often I know right away whether the manuscript I’m reading is going to be one I try to acquire, and I’m talking as early as 25 pages in. The thing is, a great story pulls you in from the start—and it has to, or else readers (including editors) are going to get bored and put it down. When a manuscript has a compelling premise, a great narrative voice and good pacing, I know I have a winner, and you can definitely get a sense of those things in the early pages.
When you’re looking to work with an author, what are the three things that are most important to you?
I like to know that the author and I have a similar vision for the book. Even the manuscripts that come to me in really great shape will inevitably need revising as the author and I discuss where we want the story to go and the kind of impact we want it to have. So first, it’s important that we agree on those goals, and then second, it’s crucial that they’re open to the revision process. Editing and revising a book is a very collaborative process, so I like to make sure the author is ready to get their hands dirty with me—it can be a lot of fun! And third, it’s important for me that the author has other ideas in mind for future books. I talk to my authors a lot about building their brand—about how we can give their readers a second and third book (and more) that will excite and satisfy them. So I love to hear that an author I’m hoping to acquire has other projects on the go or on their mind, so we can talk about their ideas at an early stage in the process.
What was it about COME AWAY WITH ME that made you say, “YES!”
The emotion! This is the kind of story you feel as you read it, and I’m a sucker for books that hit me where it hurts. Right away, the narrative in Come Away with Me made me feel like the characters were real people I knew and cared about, and the story is written with such honesty and tenderness that you can’t help but feel completely invested in what happens to them. When I have a manuscript on my desk that makes me tear up—that’s definitely what makes me say, “YES!”
If you were a drink, what drink would you be and why?
Dirty gin martini—extra olives! I’ve always had more of a salty tooth than a sweet one, so this drink is always a winner for me. Plus, it’s classic, simple, but full of flavor, which I’d like to think is pretty close to my own personality.
Which recent book do you wish you had acquired?
Hmm… This is a tough one because I’ve read some standout fiction recently and I would have loved to acquire any of them. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, which I found genuinely unsettling, tender and heartbreaking. It’s a beautiful book that will stay with me for a long time. This is dystopian done right (for me), because it’s genre-bending. It’s an amazing blend of literary and science fiction that will appeal to a wider-than-usual audience, so it’s definitely one that I wish I’d acquired for myself.
Thanks for visiting us at the Deb Ball, Michelle!
And now … (drum roll, please) … the cover for COME AWAY WITH ME …
There is much I love about this cover. The vastness of the blue ocean. The gorgeous font and stark white of the title.The lovely blurb from the amazing Lori Nelson Spielman. THE FACT THAT MY NAME IS ON IT. 🙂
Big thanks to the teams at MIRA for creating what I think is the perfect cover for this book — a lot of work went into it, and I hope you like it as much as I do!