War Of The Words: What Tor looks for

Senior Commissioning Editor, Julie Crisp, let’s us know what Tor looks for when reviewing submissions. Ask ten different people what makes a good book – you’ll probably get ten different answers. Everyone has distinct tastes so this makes publishing for such a diverse audience a challenge… The key thing any publisher looks for in an … Continued

torSenior Commissioning Editor, Julie Crisp, let’s us know what Tor looks for when reviewing submissions.

Ask ten different people what makes a good book – you’ll probably get ten different answers. Everyone has distinct tastes so this makes publishing for such a diverse audience a challenge…
The key thing any publisher looks for in an author is the ability to tell a good story – no matter what the genre. It’s not just a question of good writing; it’s that special talent to make the reader care about what happens next.
We read as a form of escapism – and few of us are patient enough to stick with a book past the first few chapters if it hasn’t captured our imaginations by then. The author needs to hook a reader’s attention – and keep it – through the use of action, intrigue or really strong characters right from the get-go.
It seems rather obvious, but imagination and originality – especially in science fiction and fantasy – is essential. This doesn’t mean you have to conceive something that no-one’s ever seen before (although Neal Asher does this very nicely with his gabbleducks!), but it could mean a fresh approach or a reinvention.
Immersing the reader into a world not of their own, does mean the time, place and setting have to be convincing. Adrian Tchaikovsky has a complete back story and history of his Shadows of the Apt world that the reader never sees. While this isn’t essential, it does help if the author’s depiction of the world the reader finds themselves in is as realistic as possible. We may not believe in hobbits or aliens in real life but while reading a book, we want to believe in them.
Tor UK has a varied list of authors – from commercial to high concept – and they’re all wonderful storytellers. Now Tor UK is looking for new author to join us. We’d like a writer who is enthusiastic and imaginative, able to compose a fast-paced plot with strong characters and a storyline that is accessible and easily enjoyed – a rollicking good adventure in short. Sound like anyone you know?