2015 SDSU Writers’ Conference: Five Questions with Editor Mercedes Fernandez

Mercedes Fernandez

Mercedes Fernandez, Editor, Kensington Publishing Corp.

1. What’s the best advice you can give to writers who are right now polishing their pitches, query letters and first 10 pages of their manuscripts in preparation for the upcoming SDSU Writers’ Conference?
A query letter is essentially a sell sheet for your novel, which should have three main components: a 2-3 sentence opening which quickly describes your work and includes solid comparisons (what other books is your novel similar to, is one of your characters like someone on TV, is the plot similar to a movie), followed by a longer one-paragraph synopsis of your work, and ends with a brief introduction of you as a writer (list any writing credentials, social media presence, college/university attended, awards, etc. or any relevant information which establishes your platform). The query letter needs to entice whoever is reading it to request your manuscript, so make sure it is as direct, engaging, and succinct as possible.

2. Can you share one of the best and one of the worst opening lines from query letters you’ve received?
I won’t share any in its entirety (for privacy), but here’s a snippet of a worst line: I found the Kensington agency on Twitter.

This introductory line doesn’t really make me want to continue reading because it doesn’t provide any information about the author’s novel, but it also lets me know that the writer doesn’t understand the difference between a publisher and a literary agency.

3. What’s the first book that spoke to you as a young reader?
As a young reader I have fond memories of devouring books in the Nancy Drew series, Baby-Sitters Club series, and the Sweet Valley High series, but I will say the first book that spoke to me was probably a Judy Blume book—either Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself or Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

4. If you had to choose only one, what’s your favorite book?
The book that I go back to whenever I want a pick-me-up is Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed, which probably speaks to my love of romance and women’s fiction with a strong romantic element.

5. What do you hope to find at the 31st Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference?
What I’m hoping to find at the SDSU Writers’ Conference are fantastic new voices with unique, high-concept stories for both print and digital in the following genres: contemporary women’s fiction, contemporary romance, cozy mysteries, romantic suspense, and multicultural fiction and romance.

For more information about the SDSU Writers’ Conference, visit neverstoplearning.net/writers