Wednesday, February 27, 2008

- Presenting...Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor

Joan in Rome joan-marlow-golan

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to a remarkable woman: Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor, Steeple Hill Books. Here's Joan!
"As Executive Editor of Steeple Hill, I manage Harlequin’s inspirational books imprint, with an editorial staff of five in addition to myself. The Steeple Hill imprint consists of three original series, Steeple Hill Love Inspired ®, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense ® and Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical ®--LIH will be launching this February--as well as a single title program that includes Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction and Steeple Hill Cafe®.

"The greatest asset at Steeple Hill is our authors. Steeple Hill authors have twice won the highest awards in inspirational publishing, the Christy Award and the RITA® Award, as well as myriad prestigious awards from the American Christian Fiction Writers, various regional RWA awards and other honors. Our books have been featured in the media, including The New York Times, USA Today and on The Today Show and even Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show!

"In addition to managing the imprint, I am the proud editor of Steeple Hill authors Hannah Alexander, Judy Baer, Vanessa Del Fabbro, Annie Jones, Catherine Palmer and Janet Tronstad as well as HQN New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller and radio personality Delilah, with whom I’m developing three non-fiction titles for Harlequin’s new non-fiction program.

Q: What is your work history?

A: I just celebrated my 10th anniversary at Harlequin—in some ways I feel as if I’ve been here forever, because it’s such a good fit, it feels like “home.” My first job here was as Senior Editor of Silhouette Romance, and then I became Senior Editor of Silhouette Desire. In 2003, I was asked to manage the Steeple Hill imprint, of which I’m currently Executive Editor.

"I began my publishing career in 1979. I'd spent six years getting a doctorate in English and American Literature from Harvard University and was a diehard bookaholic. When I realized that there was a job that involved actually getting paid for reading books, I knew that was the job for me. I was determined to break into publishing despite being told by many that I was “overqualified and underexperienced” for an entry-level job.

"Ultimately, my entrĂ©e into the industry was as a Book of the Month Club reader. It took me three months to get that position—I kept calling the BOMC Editor-in-Chief, Al Silverman, and since I knew he was a Yankees fan would chat with him about Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin and company, and every month he’d tell me he wasn’t hiring but to call him back next month.

"My first full-time job was as a nonfiction editor at now-defunct Hart Publishing Company, where I edited the bestseller THE 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael Hart, which has spawned many imitators. I went on to fiction, and then I discovered romance publishing—it was love at first sight, and for most of my publishing career I’ve been a romance editor.

"I began my romance publishing career with Richard Gallen, a packager, and then became an editor at Berkley’s Second Chance at Love line, which I eventually managed. When my daughter was a toddler, I decided corporate life wasn’t sufficiently family friendly and mommy-tracked myself for seven years, continuing to freelance.

"Working at home eventually got lonely, but I still wasn’t ready to reenter corporate life, so I got into religious publishing as an editor for Catholic publisher Liguori Publications. After four years, Liguori decided to close their New York office, and by that time I was ready to come back to the corporate world—and Harlequin was ready for me. My friends think I have the dream job . . . and I’m inclined to agree! I especially value the warm relationships built up over years of working together, both in the author/agent community and with Harlequin colleagues.

Q: What are you looking for in submissions?

A: Please note that while we accept all submissions for Steeple Hill series, we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts for the single title program, which includes Steeple Hill Cafe®. As an editor I look for:

- Characters I care about

- A compelling, distinctive author voice

- A story that hooks me with the first sentence and won’t let me put it down.

Q: Do you have any advice for writers for Steeple Hill?

A: Yes.
- Please read our guidelines before submitting to Steeple Hill:
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
Steeple Hill Women's Fiction
Steeple Hill Cafe

You will also find them on—scroll to the bottom of the homepage and click on Writing Guidelines.

- Remember that Jesus got His points across by telling wonderful stories and do likewise.

- Keep in mind that if you do not interest an editor on page one, they aren’t going to read much more (if the editor is me, I am not going to read any more).

- Try to read your work not like an author but like a consumer who has picked it up in the bookstore and is sampling to decide whether or not to buy it.

- The best way to endear yourself to your editor is to deliver your mss. on time.

Q: What are your favorite childhood novels?

A: My all-time favorite novel, which I reread every few years, is LITTLE WOMEN. I also consider it the ur-inspirational novel—not only are many of the chapters named after elements from John Bunyan’s Christian classic PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, but the four March sisters each make an inner pilgrimage to spiritual enlightenment and each finds her mission.

It’s also a very well-written book with a dynamite first line—“'Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,' ” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

At various times in my life I’ve identified with each of the sisters, but now I identify most with Marmee—who is a great role model for me as a manager. I have to admit, for me life doesn’t get any better than lying in bed rereading LITTLE WOMEN—I find the March family endlessly fascinating, not to mention never having gotten over my childhood crush on boy-next-door Laurie.

- Another book I adored as a child and is back in print again today is HALF MAGIC by Edgar Eager. Four children, whose widowed mom works so that they are often left to their own devices, find a magic coin that grants wishes—but only by halves. This leads to some terrific adventures and profound life lessons for all of the children. What I really love about this book is the author’s voice. I used to read HALF MAGIC to children I babysat for and they all loved it, too, as did my own kids. I enjoyed it just as much rereading it as an adult. If you’ve never read it, treat yourself!

- Both of these beloved books have great dialog. Dialog is really important in making a novel work—it can provide sparkle, humor, reveal character and fill in the backstory as well as making the pace sufficiently brisk that the reader doesn’t get bored.

Q: Is being an editor what you imagined when you first decided to become one?

A: Actually, not so much. I thought all editors did was read and edit! So what do I do besides read and edit? I participate in a lot of meetings and spend untold hours responding to and generating email, and using my computer, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I also talk on the phone, which I still prefer to email for a real discussion (I respond to the human voice and tend to “hear” books as I read them).

Q: Is there any activity you prefer to reading?

A: I do enjoy other forms of entertainment and am particularly passionate about opera and theater. In the almost two years since my husband died, I have become an avid gardener as well, and planted over 400 bulbs this fall so that I will have “Little Amsterdam” in front of my house in the spring. I enjoy traveling and spent a memorable week in Rome, Italy, in October. I also take a Qi Gong class, meditate, and say the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy, the prayer I feel especially called to, every day, and I’m a lector at my church.

But to answer the question, no, nothing does it for me like a good book—and I founded a bookclub in my community that has been meeting for over a decade! I especially enjoy poetry and biography in addition to fiction, with Linda Pastan and Mary Oliver my two favorite contemporary poets at the moment. My favorite quote is by Logan Pearsall Smith: “People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” Amen!

Joan in Rome


Tamara said...

What a wonderful profile of a lovely woman. Although I've worked with Joan for the past few years, this post made me even more fond of her.

Joan, thank you for sharing your story and love of reading.

Shirley Hailstock said...

I've only heard good things about Joan from some of her authors. The profile was lovely and she does seem to be in a dream job.


Isabel Swift said...

Hey Tamara! How are you? Have you produced your mini-me? Hope this finds you well & thank you for stopping by--and for your lovely comments, which I totally agree with!

Shirley, good to see you too. One of the challenges of having that "dream job" know, like the one YOU have of writing and publishing wonderful stories and being an author? is that you care passionately about what you do. Which means when things work, you are on top of the world--when they don't, it can be really tough. You can get very invested and everyone needs to keep their perspective, which can be hard.

Patricia W. said...

Anyone who shares a love for LITTLE WOMEN is alright with me. I think I read it at least annually all throughout high school, and still re-read it every few years. In fact, I'm due for a reading!

I'm encouraged that even after seven years on the Mommy-track, Joan was able to find her dream job. It's never too late.

Michelle Styles said...

Another lovely profile. I look forward to reading more profiles as when they happen.

It is so wonderful to see that someone else shares a passion for HALF MAGIC. Edward Eager was one of my favourite authors as a child.

And I would say if you have never been to the Alcott house but love Little Women, take the time to go. The atomosphere is fantastic.

Isabel Swift said...

Patricia W, how nice to have you visit--and your point is a good one in terms of opportunities for women to manage their career and work/life balance as they need and choose. But the challenge is that it takes a 'village'--a sense of collective, communal committment--to make it all work.

Michelle, great to see you too--I enjoyed your blog post on 'head hopping.' As Nora's editor at Silhouette, I well remember one of the early manuscripts I worked on that opened in the dog's POV! Luckily for Nora's and my relationship, I am more of an intuitive editor, not so 'by the book.' It worked; it stayed.

Michelle Styles said...

Isabel --
I am pleased you enjoyed the post on head hopping.

I love the story about Nora and the POV of the dog.
But it is one ofthose about stories --if they are working, why bother to fix them. I am very pleased that you are intuitive editor. I think Harlequin over all prides itself on being more intuitive than by the book, or maybe that is just the editors that I have encountered.
Afterall at the end of the day, it is the reader's experience and the story that matters rather than some set of rules.

Isabel Swift said...

Michelle: yes--not sure the expression "Keep your eye on the donut (and not on the hole)" has currency across the pond, but it's a favorite of mine. EATS, SHOOTS, LEAVES respectfully aside, sometimes the correct grammatical cure is worse than the "disease" of error, and comprehension and often pacing, beauty and music of language are best served by just leaving things alone. The "donut" is to deliver a readable story that connects with the reader. Not a grammatically correct text.

Michelle Styles said...

I think your favourite saying has just become a new mantra for me. It makes so much sense with a story that I am currently struggling with.
Many thanks.