“So many fantastic new voices have come onto the scene in the past five years, and I’m hoping we continue to give opportunities to marginalized and up-and-coming writers post-pandemic.” –Amara Hoshijo
Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 28th Annual A&E Conference, taking place September 17-19, 2021, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Amara Hoshijo
Amara Hoshijo is an editor at Saga Press who acquires science fiction, fantasy, and horror. She loves ambitious, culturally driven projects with layered, immersive secondary worlds. Prior to joining Saga, Amara was an editor at Soho Press, where she specialized in international crime fiction and speculative literary fiction for more than eight years. She also managed the company’s subrights initiative and is a former Frankfurt Fellow. Authors she has worked with include Chana Porter, Clarissa Goenawan, Chris McKinney, and Andromeda Romano-Lax.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Amara Hoshijo: After reading (and loving!) their manuscript, I like to have a discussion with the author to make sure our visions for the book align and talk through editorial notes. I do occasionally suggest more fundamental changes, but tend to be a heavier line editor—I believe the reading experience down to the sentence level is important, as well as thought and consistency in the little details.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
AH: I love to see that debut authors are well read in the genre they’re writing into. I also look for their connection to the subject matter—why they’re writing what they’re writing about, and what they hope to accomplish with their project. In a more formal sense, published pieces and demonstrated involvement in the literary community (writing groups, literary organizations, bookstores) also help. While a social media platform can be nice for promotion, it’s not necessarily something I seek out.
Scribe: What’s one piece of advice you find yourself giving to others time and time again?
AH: It’s all about fit. The highest-profile agent or editor in the world may not do as much for your book as the one who connects with and understands it best. Being published takes years almost no matter how you cut it, so you want to find people who will be in your corner for the long haul. This is also why it’s important to pay careful attention to the types of projects each agent/editor takes on—it will save your time and everyone else’s to do your research first and submit thoughtfully.
Scribe: What excites you the most about the publishing industry today?
AH: Oh, there’s so much! First and foremost, it has to be that diverse books are breaking new ground across genre. So many fantastic new voices have come onto the scene in the past five years, and I’m hoping we continue to give opportunities to marginalized and up-and-coming writers post-pandemic. Books in translation are also finding consistent mainstream success, which has been so many years in the making.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent book/project that you worked on that excited you and want everyone to know about?
AH: My first of four acquisitions this year at Saga Press is THE DAWNHOUNDS by Sascha Stronach, a Maori and Southeast Asian-inspired fantasy set in a world that has undergone a sweeping biotech revolution. The novel’s protagonist, a reformed thief-turned-cop, is murdered and resurrected with the mysterious ability to control life force, then teams up with the powerful pirate crew who has saved her to find her murderers and stop a bioterror attack from befalling her city.
Click here for more information on the 2021 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (September 17-19) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.