An Interview with a Hawaii-Based Publisher’s Editor-in-Chief, David Shinsato

 Q: Let’s start off light. So, what’s the funniest thing that has happened to you?

A: Funniest thing that happened to me… Well, this wasn’t exactly funny for me at the time, but other people sure found it funny when I told them. It’s probably the most embarrassed I’ve ever been in public. 

While I was studying abroad in Okinawa, I won a $50 trip to the Kansai region. I was one of three undergrads who were chosen by lottery. The rest were grad students. Anyway, the first night, there we were at a hotel having a big dinner. There were about 50 of us. After dinner, they announced that all of the people from each country present had to walk up, introduce themselves in Japanese (a language I could barely speak), and sing a song from the country we came from. Being the only American, I had to go up by myself. There were like 20 Chinese people so they got to sing in a big group…

As I walked up to the microphone, my yukata (a casual summer kimono, which I was not at all used to wearing) got caught in a sound cord and everyone got a pretty clear view of my underwear! Laughter ensued and I was pretty embarrassed. I proceeded to do my Japanese self-introduction, which I did terribly. It was made even worse by my embarrassment. Then, I couldn’t think of a song (something I should have done earlier) and I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and forgot the lyrics. It was the most humiliating walk back to my seat.

That was probably the “funniest” thing that has happened to me.

 

Q: That’s so brutal! On a positive note, I’m sure you cheered up a lot of people that day. What were you like in high school?

A: Honestly? Shy, if you didn’t know me, and annoying if you did. I’d like to say that I grew out of that stage, but that depends on who you ask (haha). Personally, I don’t really like High School David.

 

Q: How would your best friend describe you?

A: Ambitious, confident, fun, goofy, loving, and a hard worker. They’d describe me as someone who isn’t satisfied with a superficial relationship and who takes the time to actually get to know people. 

Full disclosure, I don’t know how to answer questions like these. So, I just asked my wife who is my best friend and that’s what she told me.

 

Q: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?

A: Uhhhh, I’m not sure. I don’t really find myself very interesting. I did enter a chess tournament once and I lost every match. I guess that’s something I wouldn’t put on my resume.

 

Q: You’re Savant Books and Publications’ newest Editor-in-Chief. What’s your most favorite thing about being an Editor-in-Chief?

A: Being able to find quality manuscripts that are enjoyable and consistent with Savant’s mission. I–like most people–love a good story and am happy when I can be involved in the process of getting that story out to the world. 

 

Q: And, your least favorite thing about being an Editor-in-Chief?

A: I’d say it’s rejecting manuscripts. I’m not at all happy when I have to do it.  For many people, being published is one of their life dreams. People work very hard on their books, but sometimes their work just isn’t a good fit for our publishing house. This is definitely my least favorite thing.

 

Q: If you couldn’t work in publishing anymore, what would you be doing?

A: If I couldn’t work in publishing, I’d do something else where I could be a part of the storytelling process–maybe in TV or movie production. I love animated films and shows, so I’d probably do whatever I could to get into that field.

 

Q: Let’s talk books! In your opinion, which is the best book ever written or which book do you wish you had written?

A: If you’re talking about a fiction book, that’s tough–it depends on the genre. But if I had to, what I believe are the best books ever written (at least one’s that I’ve read) I’d have to say, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and a short little sci-fi story I absolutely love called, The Dandelion Girl. For non-fiction work, definitely, The Bible.

 

Q: If you could live in a book’s story, which would it be? Which character would you be in it?

A: If I could live in any book, it’d probably be The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson. I love the world that he’s built and the complexity of the magic system in it. I’d probably be the character, Kaladin. I find myself a lot like him in many ways. If I had to pick a more popular book, I’d pick Lord of the Rings and be Sam. In the end, it’s fantasy worlds that really appeal to me.

 

Q: What’s the best advice you were ever given?

A: That’s hard to say, so I’ll just say the first meaningful piece of advice that came to my mind: don’t waste your life.

 

Q: Speaking of meaningful, in your opinion, what’s the most meaningful thing a writer should have or do to be a successful author?

A: The most important thing a writer should have to be a successful author is skill. There’s no other way around it. People will buy and read good books. If you can craft an intriguing story with interesting and relatable characters, people will take notice. Of course, timing, marketing know how, and connections are all important, as well.

But, in the end, none of those things will help if your book is terrible. There are exceptions; some books are mediocre at best, yet they have sold millions of copies. I can’t fully explain that. However, the works that have withstood the test of time are all literary masterpieces. If you are an aspiring author, the best thing you can do for yourself is: learn to write well. 

 

Q: Here’s the question writers are waiting for. What’s the one thing authors do that hurt their chances of being accepted into a publishing house?

A: The one thing authors do that hurt their chances of being accepted into a publishing house is not following submission guidelines. If you can’t be bothered to properly submit your work, then publishers can’t be bothered to take you seriously. “Gimmicky” stuff usually doesn’t work either.

 

Q: Lastly, what’s your definition of success?

A: That’s an interesting question. I feel like true success is something no one will ever feel that they have really “achieved”. I think it’s important to always have multiple goals and new dreams–to keep pushing yourself to new heights. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I ever felt like I had “arrived”. For now, I guess that’s my answer. Perhaps one day I’ll have something closer to an actual definition. 

At the risk of sounding cliche and kind of corny–which I don’t really care if I do–I will leave you with these lines from Disney’s Tangled. A great movie I might add.
Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be? 
Flynn Rider: It will be. 
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then? 
Flynn Rider: Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream. 


 To learn more about David go to http://davidshinsato.yolasite.com/ or contact him directly at savanteic@gmail.com.

Hope you had fun!

-E

 

 

 

 

Why you Should NaNoWriMo This November

NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) is a quirky 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that initiates a monthlong writing challenge in a fun way! Yes, you read that right: write a novel in 30 days! It’s not impossible and what do you have to lose?

 

Taking the NaNoWriMo challenge means that a writer has pledged, along with thousands of other writers all over the world, to complete a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. A writer “wins” NaNoWriMo by completing their novel.

NaNoWriMo won’t write the novel for you, so it is a race to the finish line!  The site keeps writers engaged several ways. Writers are set up with other authors regionally so that they can not only engage on the NaNoWriMo site, but, can set up meetings locally. You can also unlock badges as you progress and forums, writing help, and professional speakers are available.

Great things:

  • Positive environment and lots of writers taking the challenge with you!
  • Donations are appreciated but are optional.
  • Cool badges that are actually fun to unlock!
  • The site keeps a count of how many words you write and how far you are to 50,000.
  • During off-season NaNoWriMo sponsors “Camp NaNoWriMo” in April! You’re assigned a cabin and writers decide what their goal will be. Some writers even choose to spend April just editing the novel that they wrote in November.

Greater things:

As of today, over 300 novels that started off as NaNoWriMo challenges were picked up by publishing houses. Have you heard of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen? That was NaNoWriMo book. Among the big publishing houses that have picked up NaNoWriMos are Penguin, HarperCollins, Scholastic, and Houghton Mifflin, just to name a few. For the complete list click here.

Though Camp NaNoWriMo has already begun this month, there’s still plenty of time to start drafting ideas for November so, pens up!

-E

NaNoWriMo logo image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Money Matters: How Much Should a Proofreader/Editor get Paid?

It was awkward the first time someone asked me how much I charged for my services. In the beginning, it hadn’t occurred to me that this question would even come up and as a result, I completely lowballed myself. I ended up practically doing the job for free.

There’s going to be a disparity between what your time is actually worth and what someone thinks your time is worth. Because of this disparity, it’s beneficial to know what you’re worth from the beginning. In my experience, some professionals actually convince themselves that a proofreader isn’t necessary, but, sometimes they’re right. It all depends on the author’s writing experience, ability to read their work objectively, and how much effort they’re willing to put into having a perfect manuscript.

So, what are you paying an editor or proofreader for? The impartialness and technical ability they have to examine your work. They make recommendations and catch errors in grammar and punctuation to produce a body of work that, when put in front of a reader, is effectively impactful and easy to read. They not only serve the author but serve the reader by ensuring that the experience from beginning to end is smooth. Ultimately, if a reader has to pause, reread, or question what is being said, the manuscript has failed. Most readers outside of academia don’t have the patience to try and interpret an author’s work. They paid for a good reading experience; as an author, you’re obligated to give it to them.

What does proofreading cost? This depends on the proofreader’s professional experience and the length and type of the project.

What does editing cost? This depends on the proofreader’s professional experience and the length and type of the project.

An author, proofreader, or editor always has the option to going through a middleman like OneSpace, UpWork, ELance, Bibliocrunch, and Scribendi for work. From my experience sites like these favor the author. Most times, proofreaders and editors are forced to accommodate authors who don’t want to pay them honestly by forcing them into bidding wars. Eventually the person who offers them the lowest gets the deal. As a result the proofreader/editor isn’t paid what their time and expertise is worth. Everyone loses. Regardless of my experiences, I encourage you to check these sites out anyway.

Another way is to get these services done directly through a publishing house that will offer proofreading and editing as one service.

At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for yourself!

Good luck in your projects!

-E