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BellaOnline Interviews Carol Taylor 1/2012

My Interview with Carol Taylor by Lisa Binion Fiction Editor BellaOnline

Carol Taylor, bestselling author of Brown Sugar and author of The Ex Chronicles, agreed to answer some questions for me. With her permission, I share those answers with you.

What did you do before you became an author?
I was an acquisitions book editor at Random House, Inc., working at the Crown Publishers Imprint. As an editor, I acquired, or bought books from agents and then worked with the author to write the book and then with all the various departments to publish, promote and market the book.

Could you tell us a bit about your career with the writing and publishing industry?
I’ve been in book publishing for over 16 years now. First as an editor at Random House, and then as an author, freelance editor, ghost writer and editorial consultant. Within those specialties I’ve done a lot of different jobs. Within the last ten years I’ve written seven books of my own: Brown Sugar, a bestselling 4-book fiction anthology series; Wanderlust, a travel fiction anthology; Sacred Fire, a collection of essays on the greatest African American books in history; and my first novel The Ex Chronicles, which was published last February. My publishers are John Wiley, Viking/Penguin, and Simon & Schuster. As a ghostwriter I write books for other people; as a Packager, I work with magazine editors, agents, book editors, and authors to help them conceptualize, create and produce their projects. I’ve also been a book review editor and review writer, a book events coordinator, and I’ve lectured extensively on editing and on writing, and I presently teach an introduction to editing course at City College.

When did you realize that you were meant to write?
I’ve always written. As I child I always had my nose in a book and I’ve kept a journal for as long back as I can remember. But I never really put together my love of books and it actually being a job until I had to decide what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with books, but not in a bookstore. I wanted to create them, not only write them but to physically create them. When I found out that is what book editors do, I knew it was the job for me. The moment when it became clear that I had a gift for writing professionally, not just creatively, but professionally, because these are two different things, I decided it was something I could do for myself and not just for my authors. Oftentimes there is a lot of rewriting that goes on when you’re an editor. Being an editor is in fact drawing out the best work from your author and packaging that work commercially and creatively so everyone is happy, the author creatively and the publisher financially. When I saw how much work I was doing on other people’s books and making them commercially successful, I decided that, not only was it something I could do for myself, since I have all the publishing background and skills, but it became clear that if I wanted to do it for myself and be successful, then I’d have to do it full time.

Are you successful enough to write full time?
I’ve made my living as a full time writer, editor and editorial consultant for the last 15 years. Although I do many jobs, as many consultants/freelancers do, all those jobs relate to writing, editing and publishing. Also, being an editor has helped me to have a successful writing career. I not only have the contacts in the publishing world, but I already have a reputation so people know my name and what I do. Being an editor also helps me to successfully manage my projects, get them done on schedule, and make sure they’re clean, well-written, edited and marketable. Most writers write from that place of creativity, not really understanding that when they’re finished writing the book, the work of promotion and marketing starts; the actual business of selling your book. This is what ensures that you have a long life as a writer and have the ability to then write another book and then another. To this end, I always think in series. I want to make sure I can sell another book based on the concept of the book I’ve just sold. In other words, how can I sell 2 books instead of just one or create a series like I did with Brown Sugar. I’m lucky to have both the right and left-brains of the editor and the writer, the business head and the creative head, working for me. This is what has enabled me to write professionally, creatively and successfully.

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