This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Francesca Best is a Commissioning Editor at Hodder & Stoughton, specialising in commercial women’s fiction. Here, she lets us in on what she would love to find in her submissions.
In my time at Hodder I have worked on and edited authors such as Sophie Hannah, Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes, Peter Robinson and Jeffery Deaver, but now I essentially concentrate on commercial women’s fiction, the area I’ve always wanted to work in – I count myself extremely lucky that I am paid to acquire and publish the sorts of books I’ve always loved to read! My authors include the brilliant Lucy Dillon, whose A Hundred Pieces of Me joyfully received such widespread acclaim earlier this year, fantastically funny chick lit writers Chrissie Manby and Alexandra Potter and Irish author Ciara Geraghty whose work is justifiably compared to Marian Keyes. I’ve also lately acquired New York Times and international number one bestselling author Emily Giffin.
I was a bookworm as a child (special talents involved reading while brushing my teeth) and I will never forget the night I stayed up until 5am as a teenager reading Jane Eyre for the first time, because I was entirely gripped by Jane and Mr Rochester’s story and couldn’t countenance putting the book down.
Apart from Jane Eyre, my all-time favourites, the ones I return to time and again, are The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher. Basically if it involves remote country houses (crumbling or otherwise), young penniless women yearning for love and possibly a story set in wartime, I’m sold. I’m always looking for that sort of absorbing storytelling, something that’s sweeping and romantic and means I want to live in the book for ever.When I read a manuscript I’m also looking for a great voice, and anything fresh and fun. I’ve recently raved to friends and colleagues about the hilarious Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and The Rosie Project, and I could happily spend hours reading anything and everything by Lisa Jewell and Sophie Kinsella (I once really embarrassingly fangirled over Maddy Wickham, aka Sophie Kinsella, at a party. Luckily she was very sweet and graciously thanked me for my attentions rather than treating me like a raving loon).
If I haven’t seen anything like it before then it’s also bound to jump out at me; I’m thinking of books with the sheer tour de force brilliance of Fingersmith and Life After Life.
At the moment I’m particularly looking for quality women’s fiction that leaves you feeling inspired and uplifted, and rich, compelling saga. I want to find a book that I can’t put down; I also want to see whether I can still do the brushing-teeth-while-turning-the-pages thing.
You can find out more about Hodder’s women’s fiction publishing at www.thebookbakery.co.uk or connect with Francesca on Twitter @FrancescaBest.