Love Romance? So does Sourcebooks editor Deb Werksman!!

Hello all. I am so pleased to be able to share my interview with you all today. A few months back I had the absolute pleasure of pitching to Sourcebooks editor and 2010 RWA NYC Golden Apple, Publisher and Editor of the year award winner Deb Werksman online through . While doing so my computer locked up and poor Mrs. Werksman had no one pitching to her for nearly ten minutes as I tried everything to get my computers(yes more than one failed me) to work. I explained what happened and she was nice enough to try the pitch again! Thank goodness.

After my pitch with Mrs. Werksman her passion and excitement for the romance genre motivated me to send her two of my manuscripts(not at the same time though) and while neither was something that she was interested in acquiring I am still looking forward to sending her more! So without further babbling from me here is Mrs.Werksman’s interview. Thank you to her for participating in the anniversary of the blog. The winning commenter from Rebecca Zanetti’s blog post was our blog friend the wonderful Danica Avet. And again today I will be giving a free digital copy of my short story Riding Double to one commenter.

What made you become an editor?

Becoming an editor was a natural progression for me. I was an English major, went to law school for a year (long enough to get trained on contracts) then decided I wanted to be in the arts. I’ve always been an avid reader—it’s what I love best!

How did you go about becoming an editor?

Worked in art galleries in NYC for 5 years, where the thing I enjoyed most was working on catalogues. Then in 1989 my husband and I started a magazine, which led to publishing calendars and books, and in 1998 I sold my company to Sourcebooks. I was offered to keep whatever job in the publishing company I wanted, and acquiring editor was the natural one.


Did you ever think of becoming an agent?

No, I haven’t. I like being on the “buying” side of the conversation!


If you get a manuscript on submission on you like it but just don’t love it do you ever offer any advice on what would make you love it?

Yes, I actually do this fairly often. I always try to give value to authors, and if I see something, I’ll say something!

How many new authors to you acquire a year and what typically are the genre’s that stand out the most for you?

I make sure to have debut authors on every list, so every season (Spring and Fall) I’m launching at least 2-3 new authors.

I’m acquiring single title romance fiction in all subgenres, so there isn’t one that particularly stands out for me. Every subgenre has its challenges. With romantic suspense, the biggest challenge is the credibility/world-building. The author has to deliver not only a fast-paced, action packed romance, but it’s also not enough to just place hero/heroine in law enforcement or the military—the author has to really deliver the world of special ops, or the world of the FBI, etc. With historical romance, because there’s so much of it, the challenge is a hook that will make the stories stand out. I think that’s the big challenge in paranormal now, too, especially with vampires. In erotic romance, the balance between the sex and the love story is the biggest challenge, and in contemporary, it’s again the world-building and the hook.

I have five criteria that I use to evaluate every submission, whether it be from a debut author or an author with a track record, so this is where it all starts for my list:

A heroine the reader can relate to

A hero she can fall in love with

A world gets created that the reader can escape into

A hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences

The author has a career arc—this book is the first in a trilogy or a series, or the author has ideas for further books in this subgenre—in other words, if the readers love this book, the author is prepared with what to offer readers next, and next, and next…


I attended the 2010 RWA Sourcebooks book signing and noticed right away that there were several authors who were published with Pride and Prejudice “spin offs”. Is this something to watch for? I admit it instantly caught my attention and I got each one I could. My mom currently has those books so I have not had the pleasure of reading them yet, but they do look interesting.

Sourcebooks is the country’s leading publisher of Jane Austen related fiction, and I’m publishing about 1 new title a month, and sometimes a few more than that. The film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice in particular sparked a real outpouring of imagination and lots of wonderful continuations, retellings or modern renditions are out there. Jane Austen seems to be immortal!


What is the next step in editing for you? What are your future plans?

The next step for me is growing Casablanca even bigger, expanding my list of women’s fiction and historical fiction (right now I do a few of each every season, and while I’ll stay selective, I think there’s room for growth). I could be happy editing romance fiction for the rest of my life!

Again thank you so much to Mrs. Werksman for taking the time to participate. For more information about Sourcebooks and Mrs. Werksman as well as all the fabulous authors and books with Sourcebooks please head over to . For another great blog to follow with the occasional chance of pitching to Sourcebooks follow And remember leave a comment and enter to win another free digital copy of Riding Double.

3 Responses

  1. Great post. It’s always wonderful to hear straight from an editor, what exactly they look for in a story.

  2. Wonderful post. I enjoyed your presentation on the panel at the PRO retreat at RWA.- hoping to work with you some time in the future- after all, a girl can dream, right?

  3. Love a woman who knows how to say what she wants! Listing what you need to have from a story and an author really cuts away the confusion.

    Thanks for taking time for us. I particularly enjoyed hearing YOUR career path! It tells me you have the background to help someone on their own path. Hope I manage to catch your attention with a submission or two!

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