• Zetta Brown
  • [Reality Check] - Interview with EJ Gilmer, Co-owner and Managing Editor at Amber Quill Press, LLC
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[Reality Check] - Interview with EJ Gilmer, Co-owner and Managing Editor at Amber Quill Press, LLC
Written by
Zetta Brown
December 2012
Written by
Zetta Brown
December 2012

Hello All!

This will be my last [REALITY CHECK] for 2012 so I'd like to close out the year with another interview from another "editor-in-the-know" and introduce you to a press you may not know of...yet.

EJ Gilmer has been involved with words as long as she can remember and loves them whether editing, reading or writing. As a co-owner and managing editor at Amber Quill Press for over a decade, she has seen the publishing industry evolve from paper-only books of the NYC pubs to the exciting e-books of today. 

Don't miss EJ's special announcement! Read on! 

Tell us about Amber Quill Press and its imprints.

Amber Quill Press, LLC, provides exciting books in both electronic and paperback format! Since opening our doors in October, 2002, we have never been open to outside submissions (apart from rare calls for specific stories in our Amber Allure imprint). Instead, to form our roster of authors, we hand-selected writers who not only possess enormous talent, but who firmly believe in the fine art of sensual writing, and who continually develop and excel at their chosen craft. From offering tales of gripping suspense and paranormal romance, hair-raising horror and spellbinding science fiction, to enchanting fantasies and sweeping historical sagas, Amber Quill Press, LLC, is certain to have something to satisfy your needs.

Amber Heat is the erotic romance imprint of Amber Quill Press. At the separate Amber Heat website, you will find gripping tales of erotic suspense and sizzling paranormal erotica, sensual tales of cowboys, pirates, or shape-shifters, alluring vampire erotica, and spellbinding erotic futuristic fiction, sexy erotic fantasies and sweeping historical tales of love and lust, stories to satisfy your salacious needs and deepest desires.

Amber Allure is the Gay/Lesbian imprint of Amber Quill Press, offering various genres and sub-genres within this growing fiction market.

What is your editing background?

I have a Bachelor’s degree with a double major – Classics and English Lit. In addition to that, I’ve written corporate newsletters (local and national), was the Editor-in-Chief of a regional women’s magazine, edited a community newspaper, taught college oral and written communication course and was the creative director of a radio station.

When it comes to selecting a manuscript for publication, what are you looking for? Do you notice certain similarities among the submissions you accept and reject?

The story and the mechanics have to be solid – the bones, so to speak. Of course, I love an author who follows all the directions for submissions so it’s set up in the correct font, layout, etc. A manuscript full of odd fonts, large font headings, all CAPS for emphasis, etc are very irritating, to be honest! It can be corrected, of course, but after you’ve reformatted your fourth or fifth in a day, an author who follows the rules puts a smile on your face. The submissions guidelines are always clearly delineated.  Follow them! Now my rant is done—LOL—I want to read a submission that is polished, polished, polished. Show me, don’t tell me your story.

Don’t be a copycat writer — even if your vision is a young wizard in training, don’t give me Harry Potter! 

Let your characters grow through the story. Make me want to cheer for them or root against them.

Careless writing will get you a rejection pretty fast. You don’t have to have your grammar perfect, but the basics are essential — subject and predicate must match, tenses must be consistent, spelling must be correct — those must be there.

Passive voice slows your storyline and drags it down.

Don’t lean on punctuation to drive your story – for example, some writers seem to think a bunch of exclamation points get the idea of excitement, fear or anticipation across. Not if you don’t support that with the actions, dialogue, plot.

A good way to get your manuscript on the short list is to write the very best story you can and polish, polish, polish…then send it!

What books do you like to read for leisure? Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I like to read thrillers, but not gory ones. James Rollins, Steve Berry, Lincoln Child are all authors I can count on to engage my imagination and tell me a wonderful story.

I’m also addicted to cozy mysteries – Laura Childs is one of my favorite authors in that genre and I especially like her teashop mysteries. I also really enjoy Susan Schreyer and Blaze Clements’ novels.

And my shelf must include some historicals. Michelle Moran is an amazing author in this genre. From ancient Egypt to the French Revolution, the women she writes about are so engaging and come alive on her pages. I’ve really enjoyed Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series, too.

Do you or your representatives attend any conferences? Plan on attending any in the near future?

Amber Quill Press attends Romantic Times conferences and the GayRomLit conference. We’re hoping to get to more as time allows.

What, in your opinion, does it take for a writer to write a truly erotic scene? What are the elements involved?

A successful erotic scene must flow naturally, so, in my opinion, the author must be comfortable with the material. If the author isn’t relaxed about the scene s/he is writing, that will show through in a more stilted scene. Don’t like BDSM…don’t write that! If you’re only comfortable writing to an R level, don’t try to go to NC17 – it won’t feel authentic to your reader. 

Involve multiple senses in your scene. Make it romantic, sensual and compelling in your word choices. Is there music playing? Is it a warm summer night with the sheets kicked to the floor or a crisp winter night playing together under a heap of quilts? Is the room candlelit, dark, bright with midday sun? How do the skin, hair, clothing of the lovers feel?

Emotions are key to an erotic scene, in my opinion. The lovers must be caught up in the emotions between them, drawing them to one another, creating the heat, the action, the sensations.

How can an author impress you or your editing staff during the submission stage?

With a professional attitude and interaction. Be courteous. Follow the submissions guidelines. If the publisher asks for no simultaneous submissions, respect that or don’t submit. Check the submissions format guidelines and follow them. Send what is requested in a timely manner.

The publisher is your partner, not your adversary. It is the interests of both of you to succeed. So be polite, professional, prompt and interact with an editor the way you like to be treated.

If you could only give ONE piece of advice to an unpublished author, what would it be?

Much as you enjoy writing, it is a business — treat it that way in your professional interaction with publishers and other authors, during the submission and editing process and in your marketing and branding, your public persona and your attitude right from the beginning. Build yourself a reputation as a great storyteller who understands the business.

You have some very exciting news with regard to submissions. Care to tell us what it is?

Amber Quill Press is open to submissions for a short time. This happens very rarely, so if you have a great story to tell, send it to me at [email protected] You can check out our submissions guidelines at:

The only open call right now on there is for our Amber Allure line, but overall formatting is the same for all. And you’re getting a sneak peek here, since the open submissions is not posted here yet, so go for it.

Where are your submission guidelines located?

http://amberquill.com/AmberAllure/AA_submissions.html -- with a link on the page to any specific call that is open and specific formatting guidelines for submitting.

Where can we find you on the web and what are your social networking loops? Where can you or your Quill authors be found in one place?

www.amberquill.com takes you to our main page of our AQP imprint. There are easy links on there to all the imprints. Just click on them to go to Amber Heat or Amber Allure homepages.


You can find us on:

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/amberquillpresspublishing
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/AmberQuillPress
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/amberquillpress
Tumblr:  http://amberquillpress.tumblr.com
Youtube:  http://youtube.com/user/AmberQuillPress
Podomatic:  http://amberquillpress.podomatic.com
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1008526-amber-quill-press
Shelfari:  http://www.shelfari.com/amberquillpress
Amber Heat Blog:  http://www.aqpauthors.blogspot.com/
AmberPax blog:  http://amberpax.blogspot.com/

Plus our Reader loops:

For erotic: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberheatreaders
For mainstream: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberquillpressreaders

Thank you, EJ, for stopping by. And I want to thank YOU--all my fellow She Writers who have read, commented, liked, or wrote for [REALITY CHECK] this year! I hope the column has been informative and helpful and I'm already making plans for future posts.

So have a safe and happy holiday season, and I'll see you in 2013! 


©2012. Zetta Brown. If you like this post, then stop by Zetta’s Desk or Zetta’s House of Random Thoughts

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  • EJ Gilmer

    Thanks, everyone, for the stopping by to read the article and for your comments. And thanks to Zetta for the great opportunity. She asks questions that make you stop and think!

    If you have any more questions, I'm never more than an email away. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] and I'll do my best to answer your question!


  • Zetta Brown

    Thanks, y'all, for stopping by and reading the interview. I'm glad that it's been helpful and informative and I hope to have more interviews with other people next year and share other real world publishing experiences. :)

  • Karyne Corum

    Great insider scoops. Thanks Zetta for having such a great guest.

  • Carole Avila

    Thank you, EJ and Zetta, for an informative interview.

    ~Carole Avila

    Eve's Amulet, Book 1, Black Opal Books

  • Kathleen Kaska

    Great information, Zetta and EJ. I like EJ's answer to the question, "How can an author impress you?" And the answer, "Your publisher is your partner."

  • Kandie Dfw

    Always great reminders!  Great post Zeta and thanks for the refresher EJ!