Interview with Renee C. Fountain

Jen: Please help me welcome Renee C. Fountain to Romancing the Book. Renee, will you please share a short bio with our readers?
Renee: I worked in publishing for almost 10 years. My main focus was on subrights, licensing and brand management. I’m currently managing editor for a great book review site and a (freelance) book scout for the CW Television Network.

Jen: Please tell us a little more about your jobs within the publishing industry.
Renee: My main job in publishing was to license out the books properties for newspaper/magazine serialization or merchandise such as toys/games, clothing and TV/feature film.

As a book scout I get to work with all publishers, from the big houses to the little presses and even the self-publishing community to find books that might be right for a television series.

Jen: How did you get into this job?
Renee: I started in the marketing department at Harcourt in San Diego. After about two years a position in the much-coveted Children’s department opened for subrights and I just got lucky. The book scout gig was pure luck; right place, right time sort of thing—but I had also done book scouting for a few studios and celebrity agents during my Harcourt years.

Jen: What other experience do you have within publishing?
Renee: I was brand manager for the Nancy Drew and Raggedy Ann brands for Simon & Schuster. I didn’t do any of the traditional jobs, like editing; but I enjoyed fishing through the slush pile. I love looking for that diamond in the rough. That’s what I enjoy most about Bookfetish, we review almost no mainstream, because we feel the new or up-and-coming authors need exposure much more than the Dan Brown’s of the world.

Jen: What services do you offer authors?
Renee: The only service I can offer an author is to review their book and give them a bit of exposure. If I think the book might work for the CW, I’ll present it—but I have NO pull on what they choose to develop.

Jen: Do you have any advice for authors, published or aspiring?
Renee: Get someone professional to edit your stuff. There’s nothing worse than having a great idea that is poorly executed. By the same token, only send out your work when it’s ready. I’ve had situations where I send something to an agent on someone’s behalf, only to have the author send me three more re-writes within the week saying, “Send this one.”, “No, send this one…”

Jen: Do you have any advice to people looking to get into this job?
Renee: I’ll give the same advice I got when I first got into subrights/licensing… RUN! The layoff situation in publishing was quite bleak for a while and the industry is still not what it used to be—if it will ever be again. For those aspiring editors out there, be ready to pay your dues by starting at the bottom. It’s a great learning experience, but not a very well-paying one. You have to be in publishing for the love, not the money. I honestly wouldn’t recommend anyone who’s just starting out to get into licensing. It has been a tough, tough industry for the past few years and it’s not getting any easier.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Renee: I really don’t have favorite authors anymore. After so many years in publishing and the thousands of books I read, it’s tough to pick just a few. I’m reading a ton of YA right now for the CW; one of my top favorites this year is Lauren Oliver’s debut novel Before I Fall. I’m about to check out The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk for my non-fiction fix; and then I’ll see what strikes me within the huge stack of books, which is mocking me as I write this.

Jen: Do you have any anecdotes from your career that you’d like to share with our readers?
Renee: For me, being happy is the key to life. You’ve gotta have fun while you’re here, cause you’ll never make it out alive.

Jen: Where are you found on the web?
Renee: I work by referral mainly, so I don’t have a personal website, but I have a Facebook page for book scouting where I keep my eye out for interesting (new) authors and stay abreast of what the publishers are talking about (R. Chinnici Book Scout) and for the reviews/commentary as well as and my Twitter

Jen: Do you have any questions for our readers?
Renee: Can’t think of anything… I would just wish anybody entering into the publishing industry much luck and happiness. If you can hang in there and do well, it’s a very rewarding career.