Ramona Richards

Ramona Richards started making stuff up at three, writing it down at seven, and selling it at eighteen. She’s been annoying editors ever since, which is probably why she became one. Twenty-five years later, she’s edited more than 350 publications, including novels, CD-ROMs, magazines, non-fiction, children’s books, Bibles, and study guides. Ramona has worked with such publishers as Thomas Nelson, Barbour, Howard, Harlequin, Ideals, and many others. The author of eight books, she’s now the fiction editor for Abingdon Press. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves living in the ongoing street party that is Nashville.

Look into Their Eyes: Why Editors Go to Writers Conferences

Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.
                                   ~Thomas W. Higginson

Even if your words are a lie, your eyes always tell the truth.
                                                                            ~Libby Saumur

I’m an introvert.

OK, I hear some giggles out there. Stop that.

Seriously, I’m an introvert. I’m not shy or hesitant around most people (unless you’re Johnny Depp or Keanu Reeves. Or really tall…).

I love parties and hanging out at coffee houses talking to other creative types. I’m quite the social creature and brazen enough to sing, act, and speak in front of groups. I enjoy it. Love it, even.

But “being on” wears me to a frazzle. I have to retreat, preferably alone, to my space to read, write, pray, and recuperate. If I don’t get a chance to go quiet and sit still to recharge, I turn into a grump. Huge, ugly ogre of a grump. As in, if you ask me just one more thing about one more comma, I will come unglued and have an old-fashioned, Southern-bred hissy fit all over your…face.

So naturally, I go to a lot of writers conferences….


Truth is, most editors love books and their authors. Those of us who can acquire books really love them – or we wouldn’t do this for a living. It’s not as if we’ll get rich doing this. There’s a good reason that New York editors usually have a long train ride into their jobs. We may hate the slush pile, but we love discovering that next great, beautiful story.

Now, at this point in my career, I can read a proposal and know within a few pages if it’ll work for the house, maybe if make money for all of us. These are what I call the “workhorse books” – good steady sellers of fine quality.

But I love that moment when I read something that makes me screech, “Yes!” in my office. That when I finish the proposal, I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest. That by reading the cover letter and synopsis, I know I’m going to like this author personally as well as professionally.

Rare moments.

And it takes both kinds of books to build a good list.

So naturally, I go to a lot of writers conferences….


I receive a lot of submissions from agents (I have about 175 on my desktop right now). I could easily fill a year’s list from those.

But I go to conferences because I want to talk with the people who create them. I want to look them in the eyes and see what energy, what faith, what passion lies within. At a recent conference, I met several writers I’d love to publish. I want to publish THEM, not just their books. Their passion and dedication to the craft oozes out of their pores in a way that’s energizing and engaging.

Will I buy their books? No idea, not until I see the manuscripts. The books may need too much work or be in a genre I don’t buy. The writing may not be mature enough, or the story unique enough.

But one day, these writers WILL be ready. And I’ll be in line to contract them.

Because I saw what they COULD do, before they do it.

Because I looked in their eyes and knew them for the writer they’ll be someday, if they continue to learn and grow and never, ever give up.

So naturally, I go to a lot of writers conferences….

To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes.
                                                           ~Thomas Carlyle.