Guest Editor: Kendel Lynn

Ever wonder about the behind-the-scenes stories of the book publishing industry? Well, wonder no more, because each month we’re featuring an interview with a well-known book blogger, editor, or agent. Today, we are excited to welcome Kendel Lynn, Editorial Director and co-founder of Henery Press. She is also the author of the popular Elliott Lisbon Mysteries and other publications. And she served as president of Sisters in Crime. Talk about a juggling act–wow!–but Kendel makes it look easy. She was kind enough to answer our burning questions, so read on for a glimpse of the editorial life…


What does an Editorial Director do?

In my Editorial Director role, I manage the editorial department from submissions and acquisitions to staff editors and interns to internal and external production schedules. Publishing a book is like planning a wedding. There are 197 things that need to get done and all on deadline. No matter what happens, that date is coming! My job is to determine which tasks get priority, who will take point, and keep it all on schedule.

Do you have a fun or interesting story about a past client (no names, of course!) or manuscript you’ve worked on that you’d be willing to share?

One of my favorite stories has to do with The Deep End by Julie Mulhern (named names in the first sentence). It’s a wonderfully funny, tightly written whodunit set in the 70s. I whipped through those delightful pages, growing giddier with each flip. It was perfect for us! Those pages flew by, and soon I was immersed in a daringly detailed dominatrix scene. Wait, what?! Holy moly, what is happening? It lasted about 4 pages and then resumed its normal programming. Happily, Julie is a dream to work with and agreed to pull back on those daring dominatrix details, and we’ve been publishing her work ever since.

What is the most challenging part of being an editor?

Deadlines. Nearly every author underestimates the amount of time they need to write, edit, and polish a thoughtful full-length murder mystery. Because the first book generally takes years to finish, and with the attention of their writer groups, critique partners,  mentors, family, and friends, they don’t understand what it’s like to do all of that to finish the next book while also editing and marketing the first. It’s an enormous amount to juggle, and the writing almost always suffers. Authors will take short cuts (on the editing! Not the editing, people! Or the polishing, don’t skip that either!). They skip it.

What is your favorite part of being an editor?

Finding that gem in the slush pile. Reading a manuscript and forgetting I’m supposed to be editing it. The pages whir by and I can’t wait to find out who did it! I love it. I want to put those manuscripts under my pillow and have sweet dreams (of murder, obviously).

Also, I love love love when we get to publish authors I know and admire. For example, we recently acquired Melissa Bourbon’s Lola Cruz mystery series. How I loved reading those books! I’m a huge fan and being able to read the new books as they roll off her laptop (after being polished, naturally) is a dream.

What advice do you have for hopeful writers?

Writing is a creative undertaking, publishing is a business. Be prepared to put in the hard work on both fronts because they will take equal attention. On the writerly side, understand the genre. Take the workshops, read the books, and join the tribe (writer groups, Sisters in Crime, critique partners, etc.). When you read tips, use them. A mystery has to have a mystery. Suspects, clues, surprises, danger, tension. Push your characters and your story. Don’t ever hold back, put it all on the page.

On the business side, no one will promote your books like you will, because they are yours. Not your editor, publisher, social media concierge, assistant, family, anyone. Read the contracts, learn all of the expectations, stay involved, and communicate.

How has your work on the publishing side affected your work as author of the Elliott Lisbon Mysteries?

I’d say it’s probably the other way around. Writing has made me a better editor (I do love the editing stages way more than the initial writing stage). Experiencing a book from the first word on the page to clinking the champagne glass on the day of its release gives me incredible insight into our authors. I understand what they are going through, and I understand what it takes. I also understand that it’s possible to work a 60-hour work week and also write a book on deadline. Just saying.

What are the most important things you’ve learned about the publishing business?

Publishing is fluid, and the advent of digital publishing has turned fluidity into raging waters. If you’re serious about publishing, then take both sides (writing and business) seriously. And as an author recently said to me, if you’ve chosen the cozy mystery lane, recognize the monetary limitations of the genre. We are in this for the love of it, and yes, to make a living. But there’s a difference between a decent living and living like Jennifer Lawrence will play your sleuth in the multi-million-dollar movie franchise.

Also, publishing is an interesting industry in that there are no barriers to entry. Anyone can publish anything at any time. But that doesn’t mean they should. The ones who take the time to learn the industry, understand the options, and make the choices right for them will get the most out of it.

Last words of advice: There are no publishing emergencies. Keep your cool, be respectful, use your indoor voice, and try to put your best foot forward.

Thank you so much! Dear readers, here’s your chance. Do you have any questions for Kendel? Leave them in the comments below.

Kendel Lynn is the Editorial Director and co-founder of Henery Press. She leads and develops the editorial ecosystem, creative team, and branding efforts, ensuring the Henery Press voice pops from packaging to posts. As an active member of the mystery community, Kendel has penned five novels, plus novellas, screenplays, and countless articles.

She has served as president of the board of directors for both Sisters in Crime (national) and Sisters in Crime North Dallas. She attends multiple conferences, conventions, and workshops where she helps the writerly navigate the publishing landscape.

She loves cupcakes, crime tv, and all things pug.


34 thoughts on “Guest Editor: Kendel Lynn

  1. What a wonderful interview! Kendel, it sounds like you really love your job, and I can imagine how exciting it would be to find those hidden gems in the slush pile. At Henery Press, how long does it typically take between when the author first hands over the unedited version of their next book and when it’s actually published?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Marla, thanks for the kind words, and I truly do love my job! As for our timeline, though it always depends on what our annual publishing calendar looks like, we try to get books to market in under a year (9-10 months being ideal). Thanks for asking!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Grace!! You must be filled with excitement and anticipation as your release date zooms ever so much closer (down to a few weeks)!! Cannot wait!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kendel! Welcome!! Such a fabulous interview and so many wise words of advice. Loved the story about Julie Mulhern (love her, full stop) and your favorite part about being an editor. The imagery of you putting a manuscript under your pillow made me smile. Sweet, murderous dreams, indeed!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. “Anyone can publish anything at any time. But that doesn’t mean they should.” SOOooo true! As my husband often says, “Free speech is a right, not an obligation.”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha! I love that saying too (and he speaks the truth). It’s the thoughtful authors who truly understand the craft of mystery writing who not only find success, but also their joy.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi Nancy, what lovely things you say! We adore you (and just to make sure you have a weekend filled with anticipation, we’re finishing your cover for your new series, and I love it so much!!). Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Fab interview, Kendel — thanks for visiting the Chicks today! It’s awesome that you’re both an author and editor, who understands the process from both sides! (I’ll be turning in a manuscript to Henery in less than two months. Now I’m hoping it ends up under your pillow!!)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi Vickie, my pillow is fluffed and ready and I already know I’ll be carrying it around with me for days. We cannot wait to read it!! (on a personal note, I’m drunk on exclamations today!)

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I am a HUGE fan of Henery Press, and all its authors! And I am always amazed at the gorgeous covers and wonderful publicity you provide for your books. Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Kendel, and looking forward to seeing you at Malice!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My dear Leslie, I’m a fan of yours! Thank you for the kind words and support, and hope to see you soon! (dang, I really have gone nuts with these exclamations, it’s like I can’t help myself!)

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Kendel, so sorry I’m late to the party but thanks SO much for such a great post. LOVE Henery books and I’m with Leslie on the great covers. Thank you so much for everything you do for the mystery community. The only thing missing is another Kendel Lynn book! (Loved your series.)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Kendel, this is such a great interview–so interesting to peek behind the curtain! I can’t imagine what it feels like to find a gem in the slushpile…must be such a shot of adrenaline. And I love the advice at the end; that puts things into such perspective. Thank you so much for visiting us! And also for letting me be part of the Hen House too. (Just one of many…did you notice all the Chicks+Hens on this blog? We are Extra Poultry Around Here.) Suffice it to say: many exclamation points!!!!!

    And, like Kathy, love Julie Mulhern full stop too and agree that Melissa Bourbon’s books are fab (since we’re naming names) and, like Ellen, am looking forward to the next Elliott Lisbon.

    ps: Now that you mention it…Jennifer Lawrence could TOTALLY play Lila. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re adorable, Cynthia!! And oh don’t I know it about JLaw and Lila (JLila?). Extra poultry indeed… You joining our Hen House was one of the most memorable, signing the contract AT Malice (what dreams are made of). Thank you for letting me be a part of the group!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. JLil…perfect! Ha ha. And oh, my goodness yes…that was a moment at Malice! The Hens in the corner being so welcoming and lovely and, well…there was no chance of not crying. Will never forget that.


  8. Kendel, My apologies for also being late to the party–I’m just back from a workshop (with resident ghosts) and my feathers are a bit ragged. As both an editor and author myself, I especially appreciated all of your fantastic advice. I believe you covered everything, and perfectly. I’ve been revising and polishing one new project for a lot longer than I’d ever thought possible–sure hope it will fly!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lisa, a workshop with ghosts wins the day!! (double exclams) Good on you for adding extra polish to the new project. May you set an example for feather flappers everywhere!!

      Liked by 1 person

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