Fizzy Fangirling: An Interview with Nicole Sohl

Hello my sweets!

Today I bring you an interview with the lovely Nicole Sohl, Associate Editor at Thomas Dunne Books and Macmillan Films, faculty member at this year’s Midwest Writers Workshop, and all-around fantastic person!

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1. First off, how long have you been an editor? What made you want to dive into this wacky business in the first place?

It’s a wacky world, indeed! And I’ve had the pleasure of being an editor in it for about four years now. It was something I ended up exploring in college. I was an English major –shocking, I know– and when sophomore year came around I figured I better start interning somewhere in some industry to build up my resume for when graduation sneaks up. So I took a look at my English dept’s website and lo and behold they listed publishing internships on top of publishing internships. Before seeing that I honestly had never considered the “business” of getting books out into the world; I had only considered the authors themselves, I guess. Once I saw the descriptions of those internships, it all kind of clicked. Never having writing ambitions myself, I was pretty uncertain about what I wanted to do with this English degree I’d gone and saddled myself with and, well, there was the answer! I spent the rest of my college years interning mostly at agencies and was more than settled on the publishing track when graduation at last came.

2. What genres do you acquire? How important is the genre, or will you take on something different just because it gives you the feelings?

I read across a lot of genres, actually. Because I’m in this wonderful odd duck of a department, I have a lot of flexibility and just need to make sure anything I’m acquiring or developing has television or film potential. To read more about Macmillan Entertainment, check out our website here: http://www.macmillanentertainment.com/

That being said, I can say what I am not looking to acquire: I’m not looking for historical fiction, young adult, and while I do love pop-culture, memoir and narrative non-fiction in the style of Erik Larson, I’m not looking at most general non-fiction, histories, etc. I would love to expand my general upmarket fiction and women’s fiction lists, and I’m often a sucker for speculative fiction that could be described as taking place in a future that could happen tomorrow.

3. Tell us a little bit about how snagging a brilliant editor such as yourself works. Do you only work with agented authors?

I do primarily work with agented authors though I have acquired an unagented author I met at a conference and an unagented author I met at a reading so it does happen from time to time!

4. What’s your favorite part of your job? For balance, what makes you cry sad, editor tears now and then?

My favorite part of the job, hands down, is right when you finish reading a wonderful submission and start the challenging but exciting process of getting an offer together. It’s often a lot of running around and talking about why you love the book, which is pretty energizing in my opinion. And hopefully it ends with getting the opportunity to publish a really great book and start a new relationship with an author! Overall, I love working at a publisher because it is such a great blend of creative and business work, and while it is great when books are working, it can be hard when a book doesn’t. So I’d say the hardest part of the job for me is when I have a talented author who is great to work with but the numbers just don’t pan out in the end. Because of the kind of work we do, each book’s publishing life is like having a serious boyfriend for a couple years (or longer!), and it really feels like a breakup when you can’t take on that next work because the business side of things don’t line up.

5. Do you have any stories that are now, “The one that got away?” If so, did it change the way you looked at manuscripts from then on?

At this point, I feel lucky that I haven’t had any huge regrets in that way. There have certainly been books I didn’t take on for one reason or another and I definitely keep an eye out for them when they pub. After all, I did really like them; I want to them do well even if it’s not with us!

6. What’s something you’re working on right now that has you all aflutter?

This August we’ll be publishing The Casualties by Nick Holdstock and I gotta say, this book is near and dear to my heart. It’s kind of a perfect blend of things I love in a book: technical sophistication, speculative elements, and with both dark and comedic moods. Nick is such a talent and I feel so honored to be able to publish him.

7. You’ll be attending the Midwest Writers Workshop this summer as faculty! For those on the fence about attending, woo them with some details on what you’ll be offering up in your panels/sessions/critiques.

Oh please do come visit, guys! I think in many aspects of life, and especially with books, there’s no replacement for face-to-face time. I think there’s a lot that ends up getting discussed and dissected at one-on-one sessions and critiques that just doesn’t come across in emails and letters.

8. As is customary on my blog, it is here I request an embarrassing or hilarious moment. Bonus points if industry related.

Well, there was that time I was getting dinner with an author at her favorite restaurant and a possum sidled up to our table and we both screamed “rat” to the whole restaurant…

Fizzy again!

I don’t know how I’d respond to seeing a possum walk up to my table at dinner, but I can’t imagine it would be with any kind of grace.

That’s Nicole, peeps! An absolute delight, if I do say so myself. (Which I totally do.)

You can catch Nicole on Twitter HERE.

AND! You can catch Nicole at MWW this July 23rd-25th! It’ll be a hoot and a half, I tell ya.

As always, leave any questions or comments or general musings you have for Nicole in the comments!

I hope you all are splendorous, my loves!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Possums

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