Debra Dixon has published with major publishers, written ten books, contributed to twelve anthologies, and served as Vice President of RWA, and her popular GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict workshop spawned a book that has become a how-to bible for writers.
These days, she’s the Publisher for BelleBooks and its imprint Bell Bridge Books, which tackles a broad spectrum of genres in both print and ebook formats. A 2011 company highlight was holding the # 1 spot on the full Paid Kindle list for more than two weeks. Their titles have been picked up in translation and by major New York publishers in subrights deals for mass market paperback, book club, audio and large print. The company has published work from NYT’s bestselling authors: Anne Bishop, Susan Addison Allen, Deborah Smith, Sharon Sala, Sabrina Jeffries, Sandra Hill, Jill Marie Landis, and Jill Barnett. As well as USA Today bestseller Kalayna Price.
Debra lives in the South with her husband and son. When she’s not working in publishing or Corporate America, she moonlights as an award-winning quilter. The current home-remodeling-project-that-will-not-end began because Debra thought it would be nice to have a quilt studio for her art.
GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict is one of the books that everyone in the Romance world talks about. I’m so looking forward to the Friday workshop and I can’t wait to learn more about Debra Dixon. So, let’s get started!
What lead you to a career in editing?
(Note: I took romance off the question since I edit many genres.)
I’d done eight books with Random House, and years of leading the GMC cult! Over the years, I’d done so much work mentoring authors, writing, and working with story, I just naturally flowed into editing after we opened BelleBooks, which includes Bell Bridge Books and now ImaJinn. I had intended to stay on the business side of the publishing company and leave editing to others, but my love of story and the genres of SF/F, horror and YA led me to take on a few books that weren’t a good fit for our other editors, who did and do(!) edit all kinds of romance. Many of my authors have strong romantic elements or romances in their books. The Haven Series (urban fantasy) by USA Today bestselling author Kalayna Price. Four time RITA-winning author Justine Davis is continuing her series which began twenty years ago with LORD OF THE STORM and was a trailblazer for paranormal romance. Urban fantasy author Diana Pharaoh Francis’s Diamond City Magic series.
What are you looking for at this time? OR What’s hot in your world/the market?
Paranormal romance (D. B. Reynolds, Lilith Saintcrow), mystery series (The Tiki Goddesses, Jill Marie Landis), urban fantasy, thrillers (Buzz Bernard), romantic suspense (Susan Sleeman), sexy erotic romance (Jenna Elliot). Or really well-written horror, like Howard Odentz’s Bloody Bloody Apple. I’d also like to see some strong Regency romance.
What are your favorite 3 books?
Seriously? I can tell you some authors that come to mind, but “favorite” depends on whatever mood I’m in and what genre I feel like reading, what I recently bought, and . . . see? It’s hard. Okay— Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels series is probably one of my all-time favorites. I do love Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changling series. I’ve always had a soft spot for Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. And there’s I Captured the Castle by Dodie Smith—the same author that wrote One Hundred and One Dalmatians. And that list leaves off a million books and authors that I love.
What tips can you give writers for a successful pitch or query?
To have a completed manuscript. To pitch something we publish. A pitch or a query is just an invitation to read your work. I can’t read it if we don’t publish it. Be clear about your book’s plot. (Understand what jump starts your story.) If you have a strong street team or social media platform, let us know. Always include your website address in your signature.
What’s your weirdest pitch experience?
Someone who wanted to read me their book aloud . . . and did before I could say no. Or the poet who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. (We don’t publish poetry.) My favorite query was from an older man, steeped in Southern culture, who was convinced that if he could just get us to pick up his book from the pile of unsolicited queries that we’d publish it. The never-ending correspondence checking on his book’s status was hilarious and lovely. One of the folks in the office took some pity on him and jumped him up the list. She sent him a very nice, but blunt rejection. So he wrote another book very quickly and sent that one in to her. The cycle started all over again. We’d call a meeting to read whatever new letter he’d sent in. Sadly the books weren’t as good as the letters.
Authors! I still consider myself one of the “tribe.” And reacquainting myself with the energy they bring is always wonderful.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
That covers a lot of ground! I can’t say reading because. . .it’s my job. I don’t have to be guilty. Okay, so. . .maybe quilting. I’m an avid quilter, but I’m not real guilty about that either. Ah! Jigsaw puzzles. I just discovered them on my tablet! It’s ridiculous. I play the highest number of pieces and really hard ones. What is wrong with me? LOL! I’m sure it’s a passing phase. I hope.
What’s one of your pet peeves?
Absence of logic in character development.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
The best advice was an oft repeated question from my Dad. “Where does it say fair on your birth certificate?” There isn’t a guarantee in life. And a wise romance editor once said, “Make me laugh. Make me cry. It’s best if you can do that in the same book.”
What are your favorite 3 romantic movies? AND/OR favorite movies ever? Why?
Just quickly off the top of my head:
- The Holiday
- The Family Stone
- The Cutting Edge
- Love Actually
Each one of them offers a stunning example of characters, goals, motivations, and conflict. They’re gripping. You root for and against people. Characters grow.
Thank you Ms. Dixon. I really cannot wait to take your workshop in person. Nalini Singh is one of my favorite authors, too, and I found out that we also share an admiration for the writing team of Ilona Andrews.
Well, my friends, this is it for the Editors and Agents at the conference. If you haven’t yet signed up to pitch to someone, now is the time! Come on, you know you want to do it. To find out more about Belle Books and the works being published by Debra Dixon, you can go here.