Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Answers Are All Yes

Do agented manuscripts get preferential treatment over requested slushie ones?
Not unless the agent's doing a better job of nagging me, or has let me know there's interest elsewhere and he/she needs an answer by X date. So the practical answer is yes, sometimes. But not because I think agented manuscripts are better than ones I've requested.

How often do you have editorial meetings?
You mean acquisition meetings? This varies a great deal from publisher to publisher. Could be weekly, could be monthly, could be whenever the editor has a chat with the boss.

Do you tell a writer that a manuscript went to a meeting before, after or never?
Any of the three. I'm not picky. Do you want to know before, after, or never?

Do you ever ask for revisions before making an offer?
Yes. I don't think it's fair to ask for more than one without a commitment on the table, but yes, sometimes I think I see something in a manuscript that I'm worried the acquisitions group won't, so I'll ask for a rewrite. This is also a test: the good writers are the ones who are good at rewriting. Some people are only good at first drafts, or terrible at using feedback effectively, and I'd like to know that about someone before I commit to working with them for months/years and spending many thousands of dollars on their project.

If you do ask for revisions or offer to look at something after a revision, do you think about that manuscript or is it out of sight, out of mind until it lands on your desk?
Out of sight, out of mind. And often out of memory. As in, it comes back and I have to work to remember what the project was, why I was excited about it, etc. This is not a reflection on your manuscript. This is just a fact of the publishing office. It's a high-distraction, sometimes high-stress environment.


Stephanie J. Blake said...

Oh thank you for getting those questions answered so quickly!

"Do you tell a writer that a manuscript went to a meeting before, after or never?
Any of the three. I'm not picky. Do you want to know before, after, or never?"

YES! I want to know everything--and then some.

Kristi Holl said...

Thank you for your honesty (about having to work to remember a project, etc.) It's a good reminder that we writers need to stop taking anything personally. It's helpful to hear about the realities of your working life.

Dawn Wilson said...

Thank you for answering those questions. I'm planning to find an agent for my series, because I really think that it is the best thing to do. Heck, there's 12 books altogether! An agent might be helpful in keeping it going. :) I love your answer to requesting revisions. I'm currently working with an editor at a publishing company who asked for revisions to my manuscript and while I'm doing the requested revisions, I have to keep in mind they might STILL say no. It makes a lot of sense to do it that way! :)

Laurie said...

love the last two posts - so cool to hear about that side of things.

Anonymous said...

YES! I want to know if my manuscript went to a meeting.

After, not before, because I'd rather skip the whole business of waiting to hear what happened, getting my hopes up, feeling sure that the manuscript is simply uninteresting and why did I ever mail it off anyway, etc.

Any piece of feedback about how a manuscript was received is helpful to me. Also, my manuscripts have never come any closer to publication than "going to a meeting." I'd very much like the little glimmer of hope that comes from knowing one of them made it at least that far.

Chris Eldin said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
And ditto CW!
I just received a very nice rejection letter (it's well-written, but) and I really want as much information as possible. It's a shame a few spoil it for the rest of us when it comes to feedback.

Bob Schechter said...

Yes, I want as much information as possible. It matters for obvious practical reasons. If an editor likes your work enough to take it to a meeting, but it gets shot down at the meeting, this is obviously an editor you want to keep sending work to, as opposed to the editor whose assistant sent back a form rejection. If a candidate loses an election by one vote, he is more likely to run again than if the loses in a landslide.

It's also nice to know in advance that the manuscript is being taken to an acquisition meeting. There may be other publishers considering the manuscript, or you may be trying to decide whether to send it elsewhere, or you may be trying to decide on an agent, or you may actually simply care because it is, after all, your manuscript, which gives rise to a natural curiosity.

What I really hate is when a manuscript goes into a giant black hole for months or years, and there's no way of knowing if it has arrived, or if, upon arrival, it was not shipped out to a paid reader who later decided to leave the business and never bothered returning the stack of manuscripts entrusted to her.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how unusual this is but anytime I've had a manuscript go to acquisitions or get serious revision treatment, I've received an email from the editor beforehand.

The email may be pretty nonspecific as to next steps but serves as a check-in to see if the manuscript is still available, exclusive, etc. Often this email comes quickly, within a week to a month of the editor receiving the manuscript. (I don't have an agent.)

It's to a point now where if a month goes by and I don't receive such an email, I assume the answer is no and I am usually right.

I know someone else for which this has been the case, too. Is this true for anyone else? I just wonder how often writers/illustrators are being called up "out of the blue" with an offer. For me, it helps to manage expectations a bit.

friv said...

Very interesting! Thanks you

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