Monday, November 23, 2009

In Which the Cockles of My Heart Are Reasonably Tepid

I've noticed that most MGs that have sold recently have NOT been 'school stories'. (At least what's listed at Pub. Lunch) Does that mean 'school stories' are history? Or maybe they are being bought but not reported? Any ideas?
I don't know what you mean by "school stories". A story in which the characters are in school? But that's... most of them. I'm confused.
Normally, if I get a rejection, I put it in my pile and go on, but I received one recently that makes me wonder. If an editor takes the time to point out exactly what does and doesn't work for her in a picture book, and says that it's close, but "not quite there yet", does that mean that she would be open to considering a revised version with those changes implemented? I know "no means no" is the general rule, but it seems like an awful lot of time on the editor's part if she doesn't want to see it again. And if she doesn't want to see it again, I don't want to come across as overly aggressive by sending a revision or emailing her to ask.
No means no. Invitations to resubmit are always explicit. You should take this as encouragement, though-- your manuscript clearly warmed the cockles of the editor's heart enough for her to want to take the time to give you feedback. Most of the time, speaking personally, my cockles are not that warm.
As a children's book illustrator with an agent, what should I be expecting from the relationship? I recently accepted representation with a great agency, but I'm not sure what I should be expecting as I don't currently have ambitions with submitting my own projects. Is she involved in my self promotion to help me get new work, or does she just help me with the issues that come up (contract, negotiation, etc) after I bring in projects on my own? As an editor, does it make a difference to you if an illustrator is agented or not?
This varies from agent to agent, and you should be asking your agent these questions. You should really have asked before you signed with her.
As an editor, no.
I was interested in your explanation of the fact that the author of a picture book manuscript should not expect to have any say in the illustration of their book. My question, then, is how an author/illustrator gets a book published. Is that situation always one where the person has an established presence as an illustrator? Do they submit the manuscript and not mention their hope to illustrate until after they have a publisher? Or maybe they're always established authors, and have a relationship with their publisher that allows them to present the idea? I can think of a lot of ways for such a deal to come about, but what's the typical scenario?
They submit illustrated manuscripts, and the editor doesn't look at them and think, "Well, we'll get that illustrated by someone better." She thinks, "This is essentially done! Awesome!"

11 comments:

christine tripp said...

I recently accepted representation with a great agency, but I'm not sure what I should be expecting

Yes, I find it strange that you would sign a contract with a "great" agent and not ask (or be informed) of what to expect from the business relationship. As far as I know, agents submit your work, be it author manuscripts or Illustrator samples, to publishers. How could this NOT have been discussed before signing? I question the "great" agent part of the post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, EdAnon, for answering my question. I was one confused writer person.

Literaticat said...

Ed was being deliberately obtuse with the first answer. It seems quite clear to me that a "school story" is a realistic contemporary set largely in a classroom. A la FRINDLE or SAHARA SPECIAL.

Kids in middle grade books usually go to school yes, but that is not the focus of say, Middle Grade Magical Realism (SAVVY, HOLES) or Middle Grade Fantasy (DRAGON RIDER) or Middle Grade Historical (BOOK OF THE MAIDSERVANT) or, etc, etc.

The answer to the original question is yes, of course publishers still buy contemporary realistic middle grade school stories. You'll probably need to keep your day job though.

Mark Herr said...

Sounds like they signed Lew Lord's standard rich-and-famous contract from the Muppets Movie. You really don't have to bother reading those things, right?

Chris Eldin said...

This has nothing to do with your post, but I thought you might be wondering what we'd like for Christmas.

A query holiday. That means you take a holiday from the queries you get in real life and let us query you. We're much better than "they" are, I'm sure of it.
;-)

working illustrator said...

I went to add a comment and found that Literaricat 10:58 had already made my point.

So, I'm seconding her comment, with an underlining of the phrase 'deliberately obtuse'.

Honestly, what else could those words mean?

It may not be exactly the phrase the marketing department is using this week to describe this category of book, but fortunately, there's no connection between the quality of a writer's work and his or her knowledge of this afternoon's inside-the-office buzzword.

myimaginaryblog said...

Chris, I'm sure EA would like nothing better than to spend HER holidays doing what she does in her paying job, but for free.

Michael Reynolds said...

The taxonomy of rejection:

1) Form letter. (Your submission fell behind the radiator and sat there turning brown for 4 months, and frankly I'm too hung over to care.)

2) "You're not quite there yet." (Go away.)

3) "While . . ." (Any use of the word 'while' means go away and don't bother me again.)

4) "Your manuscript would not be a good match. . ." (If you sucked any harder you'd be a black hole.)

5) "We already have quite a few submissions involving vampires. . ." (Seriously, one more teen vampire submission and I'm going on a killing spree.)

Josin L. McQuein said...

Oh well. I figured it was a rejection, but wanted to make sure. At least she thought my character was cute and mischievous.

It was definitely an encouraging letter - which is such a weird idea to explain to non-writing people. They don't get that actually getting a personal answer is "good" when it's still a rejection.

Thank you for the answer. It came a lot sooner than I was expecting.

VerWord: antsi -- the perfect way to describe how I felt sending out my queries.

Mark Herr said...

Doesn't everyone know that vampires are done? It's Pilgrims interested in reruns of Falcon Crest that will be the next big thing.

Anne said...

About "school story": I think of this term as referring to a genre of stories about British boarding schools especially in the first half of the 20th century. (The Wikipedia entry school story has a bit of elaboration on this, saying Harry Potter is a kind of revival of these stories. Maybe your correspondent was wondering if other stories set at these old boarding schools were enjoying any post-Potter boom?)

Not sure if that's what your correspondent had in mind, and I realize it's ancient history now, but I am reading through the archives here and thought I would note the possibility.