My sister wrote and illustrated a short picture book for my mother as a Christmas present. Now my parents want me to bring the book to my editor and see what she thinks. I know exactly what she'd think: "No. Thank you, but no." Oh, the story and the drawings are cute and fun, but I don't think the story can be stretched out to fill 32 pages (or whatever the length of a picture book is). However... I am not an editor. Is it possible that I'm the short-sighted one?Well... you never know. I've said 'hell no' to manuscripts that went on to thrill the socks off of another editor and were published very nicely. (I still say 'hell no', but clearly some people love that stuff.)
I don't think my editor needs another picture book submission from a) someone who thinks their relative is brilliant, or b) someone who thinks they have an in because they know someone at the publishing house.That's true.
Then again, it would take 30 seconds to read.But how long to say no to it, and graciously? That's the time-suck.
Am I refusing my sister a fair chance? Or, should I just tell her to re-write the story until it's good enough? Also, is there a way to let parents down gently, without making it sound like the gift was terrible?I don't know your family members, so I don't know what will make sense to them. You should at least try to bring across to them that editors field a LOT of friends-and-family manuscripts and they don't appreciate it. So while (of course) you are willing to do your sister as many special favors as there are stars in the sky, your editor isn't.
Editors are often sympathetic, patient people at heart (though overworked), but I know they all wish that more people understood that when one asks one's author friend to do a favor and send a manuscript to their editor, one is not asking the author to do you a favor-- emailing something takes very little time, and no energy. What one is really doing is asking the editor to do you a favor, and you don't get to ask strangers for favors.
Still, your editor likes you and wants to be kind, so sending your editor one manuscript from your family is probably ok with her. You may want to let your sister know that this is the only special favor you'll be able to ask of your editor-- so is this the manuscript she wants to use her golden ticket on?
And as far as your parents: I don't understand why, but it's clear that many people can't believe something is wonderful unless everyone else agrees. Which, in case anyone reading is feeling low on logic, MAKES NO SENSE. Publishing a manuscript is about appealing to thousands of people. There are lots of wonderful manuscripts that would make dozens, or scores, or even hundreds of people happy. They can't be published. They would be cherished, and they would sell, but they would not sell enough.
Publishing is about appealing to people who spend money on books. Publishing is about appealing to strangers. In terms of the story that a daughter writes for her parents, there is simply no excuse for any conclusion besides this one: if the parents think the story is wonderful, then it has appealed to the only important people in the world.