Ask the Pro: Editorial Manager Deborah Werksman


Deborah Werksman is seeking romance novels, series and trilogies in the paranormal, time travel, romantic suspense, historical, contemporary and erotic genres for Sourcebooks Casablanca. She is also interested in innovative women’s fiction, as well as international and historical fiction. For submission guidelines, visit

WHAT DISTINGUISHES THE PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks is the country’s largest woman-owned publishing house, and we’re known for our marketing and PR and sales approach to every book we publish. … We publish 300–350 new titles each year, of which about one-third to one-half are fiction. We are also at the forefront of the digital transformation in the publishing industry, and release our e-books at the same time as the printed books—on all e-reader formats, and to all retailers.

HOW MUCH UNAGENTED WORK DO YOU PUBLISH? I’d say nearly one-third of the books I accept were unagented when they came to me.

MOST QUERIES ARE … more plot summaries than pitches—I really need to know that hook right away.

MOST NOVEL MANUSCRIPTS … would benefit from cutting, especially if they’re in the 100,000-word range. It’s almost always a pacing issue.

LESSON MOST WRITERS HAVE YET TO LEARN: Debut authors need to remember that their books are not babies, and that they need to behave very professionally with everyone in their publishing house.

BEST PUBLISHING ADVICE READ OR RECEIVED: It’s a team effort—always put yourself in your readers’ shoes, not [those of] your characters or your story. The marketplace is very crowded—it’s all about reaching your readership.

VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING: I like to think there will always be printed books (because I love them), but I think e-books are a great solution for prolific readers. What publishers provide that will always be essential is positioning, marketing and helping an author reach the broadest possible readership.

PERFECT DAY AT THE OFFICE: Get caught up with all contracts, submissions, manuscripts and phone calls. All back-cover copy submitted is approved immediately with no rewrites. Every offer I make is immediately accepted. I have stuck to my diet all day, and drunk sufficient water. I go home to spend all evening reading the most wonderful manuscript ever to cross my desk.

DREAM PROJECT: It has a heroine the reader can relate to, a hero she can fall in love with, a world the reader can escape into, a hook I can sell within two to three sentences, and an author with a clear career arc. In other words, if readers love this book, what am I giving them next, and next, and next?

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