A New Hat – Editorial Director, Bella Books

Karin Kallmaker Bella Books

Bella Sideways

With great pleasure—and excitement—I’m announcing that I will be joining Bella Books as the imprint’s first editorial director. I feel as if I’ve just signed on with the Dream Team!

Bella Books is one of the arms of the enterprise run by publisher Linda Hill. As most of you know, Bella publishes lesbian-specific fiction, particularly romance and mystery. Linda’s other publishing endeavors include Beanpole Books, a new imprint for general young adult/children’s titles, and Spinsters Ink, featuring life-affirming stories for women. Katherine Forrest joined Spinsters this summer as editorial supervisor, where she will select and edit the majority of the Spinsters production schedule. I already feel incredibly fortunate to have her once again as my editor for my work at Bella.

As Bella’s editorial director, I will be helping to shape the heart of Bella’s line. In my work as a writer I have always tried to illuminate and celebrate lesbian lives, and write stories that reflect our struggles, hopes and dreams, be they large or small. I’m pinching myself that I will have the opportunity to more finely tune this philosophy by working with Linda Hill and the excellent writers at Bella. We anticipate my having a significant role in selecting new manuscripts, which will allow me to interact with a whole new generation of writers. Because of the lead time in publishing, my influence will first be felt on the 2009 production schedule.

With every gain comes a loss, and I’m aware that as a member of a publishing team there are discussions from which I will need to refrain, and activities (such as awards judging) in which I can no longer participate. Even though I am certain of my ability to separate my interests and be fair, the appearance of a conflict is too strong. Karin the Writer is sad, but Karin the Bellite is confident the rewards of working on such a large scale to produce exciting and exceptional lesbian fiction will more than compensate.

Speaking for Karin the Writer, I fully intend to continue my publishing schedule; it remains my number one priority. This heightened affiliation with Bella seems like a natural outgrowth of my long experience, but I am and always will be a writer first.

Though she didn’t put it in quite these words, Linda Hill made it plain that if Karin the Writer doesn’t keep doing what she does best, she’s going to fire the editorial director’s hinder!

I’m truly excited about the future of Bella Books and sally forth into this new venture with high hopes of making another kind of lasting contribution to the world of lesbian fiction.

1/16/2008: Follow-up note

Just for clarity, I want to explain that my work with new writers will be as a mentor, not an editor. There are far better editors than me (or is it I? see?) to do the essential work of making a manuscript the best it can be for the marketplace. My role will largely play out in selecting new manuscripts, encouraging new writers, and setting an overall image and tone for Bella as a publisher. — K

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