This year, we are so excited to have Diana Pho, editor at TOR, joining us. If you’re coming to the conference, did you grab an appointment with her? If you’re undecided, maybe this short interview will help…
From her LinkedIn profile:
Diana M. Pho is a Hugo-nominated editor at Tor Books and Tor.com Publishing, though she’s worked in the publishing industry under various hats for the past decade. She’s also an academic scholar, activist, performer, and general rabble-rouser elsewhere. Her talented list includes Robyn Bennis, Alex Bledsoe, P. Djeli Clark, Marie Cruz, Lara Elena Donnelly, Thoraiya Dyer, A. J. Hartley, Margaret Killjoy, Kari Maaren, and Prentis Rollins; she also works with the best-selling The Wheel of Time® series and George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe. Books she has edited have gone on to win the Thriller Award (Steeplejack, for Best YA), the Ditmar Award (Crossroads of Canopy, for Best Novel) and to become finalists for the Nebula, Lambda Literary Award, Shirley Jackson Award, and Andre Norton Award for Young Adult.
Welcome to the Realm Makers blog. Tell us a little about you and how you got into the publishing world.
Hello folks of Realm Makers! I’ve been in publishing industry for over a decade, trying on many hats in various jobs in sales & marketing, social media, blogging, book clubs, and finally landing in editorial. I’ve been a bookworm for much, much longer though, and a theater kid, an anime fan, and a cosplayer as well! I’ve been fortunate enough (and yeah, put in a lot of hours!) to make it in a field where I can combine all of my loves into one career path.
Publishing was a field I didn’t know much about until I got into college and was weighing my options about what to do afterwards when I decided not to become a teacher or work for the US government specializing in Russian relations (I was and English/Russian language & culture double-major. Those were legit options). Once I decided to go in for publishing, I just wanted my foot in the door and take any internship related to it. I spent a summer at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions correcting student sample essays and copyediting test packets, and a winter-term internship at John Wiley & Sons. All of that cumulative experience landed me my first job working for International Sales at a Big Five publisher, and I’ve hopped through the industry until I landed where I wanted: editing sci-fi & fantasy books.
What makes you most passionate about writing/publishing?
I usually make an analogy that making good books is like putting on a good theater production. You need a lot of people working backstage, even though you only see the actors in front of the lights. Likewise, a successful book has hundreds of people behind an author, and as an editor, my job is like a producer/director’s: we help the author create the vision they want for a book and make it happen. It also means managing all of the things that go on behind-the-scenes, from working with the text to brainstorming book titles and cover concepts to communication with sales, production, marketing, publicity, and other departments to pull all of the aspects of the book together. I love the whole process of seeing something worthwhile being made.
What is one very important piece of advice for writers these days?
The road of authorship can be hard and lonely, and many writers wonder if they can ever “make it.” So what I always tell writers is that they should have an honest conversation with themselves about how they define success, and assess their publishing expectations accordingly. Not all books will be New York Times bestsellers, but a writer can still be proud of their accomplishments and their career. In this respect, having friends and colleagues in the field who can support you and cheer you on will also help sticking it out as a writer.
If you weren’t a writer or involved in the publishing world, what would you do?
I missed my opportunity to be either a terrible spy or a tenured professor. No regrets.
What are you teaching at Realm Makers this year and why should attendees check it out?
I’ll be teaching “Beyond the Panels: Introduction to the Business of Graphic Novels.” So if you ever wondered how the comics world works, how to create a graphic novel, or how to shop a project around to agents or publishers, you can check this out!
What are YOU most looking forward to about Realm Makers?
Meeting people! I love the opportunity to get to know writers, what interests them, what are they talking about in their corner of the industry. It’s always nice to get an “on the ground” perspective.
(I also heard something about a Nerf war as part of Realm Maker tradition…)
If you are an agent/editor who is taking appointments, what are you looking for this year?
Yes, I think I am taking appointments! I believe the website has a more thorough description of what I’m looking for in terms of genre, but in general, I’m looking for a story that draws me in and keeps me turning the pages. I’m also looking to support new writers from all backgrounds, especially under-represented voices in the industry.