Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Writer Wednesday: How Long Does It Take Editors to Decide to Acquire a Book?


Today's topic comes courtesy of Johnell DeWitt. Johnell wants to know how long it takes an editor to make a decision after they've requested and read a manuscript.

For me, it's immediate. I have to love a book to take it on. I stop reading a submission when I realize I'm not in love with it. That means if I make it to the end, I loved it. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to send off an offer right away though. At this point I know I want the book, but the next question is how does the book fit into the current line for Seek? The book has to be a good fit for the company. If it is, then I'm ready to offer. If it's not...

Two things could happen at this point. I could regretfully pass on a great book because it's too similar to another title or doesn't fit the line for another reason (like maybe the word count is a lot higher than Seek's other titles). Or, I might email the author to see if they are willing to make changes to have the book fit our line better. Now, the author might not want to make the changes (which is totally fine), and at that point, I wish him/her luck in finding a home for the book. If the author is willing to make the changes, I'm ready to offer a contract.

So, that's what it looks like on the other side of my submissions desk after I read a manuscript. I'm sure other editors might have a different process, but hopefully you find it helpful to hear about mine.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

26 comments:

  1. My editor has to take it to an acquisitions meeting. I'm not sure how many steps this involves. At some point marketing gets involved and if they sign off, she can buy it. Before I landed my current deal, another major publisher was interested in a book of mine. We had a 30-minute phone call where she said what the committee wanted me to change. I changed it and she sat on it for six months...at which point she said there were now too many similar books on the market. VERY frustrating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is frustrating, Stephanie. I'm sorry to hear that. Since Seek is small, I don't have a marketing team to go through, which makes things a lot quicker. It's me figuring everything out. The marketing team strictly works on the books after they are acquired.

      Delete
  2. Interesting. I have been wondering how that works. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are lucky that you don't have to go through an acquisition committee to acquire a book you love. I know it's frustrating for both the editor and the author when the book gets that far and is shut down by a different group of people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that's very frustrating. I'm definitely glad I don't have to do that. Though I won't say that it will always be the case. Things change.

      Delete
  4. I've often wondered what it actually meant when I was told "not a good fit." Thanks for the explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yup. It's so subjective, the timing, the market. People just assume if they get rejected it's because they suck. I wish they could see behind the curtain sometimes. It might lessen the sting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping my posts will let people see that. :)

      Delete
  6. It's cool getting a look behind the scenes ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. People have to be willing to make change if they are to negotiate a contract.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love the insight into the process. Knowing what's going on behind the scenes helps me be patient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good. I'm glad you find it so helpful. :)

      Delete
  9. Very helpful to see things from your perspective. After reading this it makes sense that editors usually know right away if they want to make an offer- because they do need to love the book. :) Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. I do think it's a feeling you get. You just know you want a book. A lot of times I can tell well before finishing.

      Delete
  10. I've had a project turned down because the company has recently acquired a very similar book. It sucks, but I never take it personally.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this happens more than you'd think. Writers tend to all think alike. I've seen several books come across my desk that are either similar to each other or similar to books I've already acquired.

      Delete
  11. Your post does take the sting out of a rejection, Kelly. Sometimes a piece is just too similar to one that the house has already published, and not that it doesn't have credits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it happens quite often, Claudine. It's very true that rejection isn't personal.

      Delete
  12. awesome post. I think so many people forget that a lot of the time it's more about the fit not being right. I hear so many times that when the editor knows they just KNOW. But then convincing others at the house, and having acquisitions' meetings can add on a whole other bunch of wait-it-out lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Just this week I had to convince the other editors at Leap that a book I loved would be a great addition to the Seek line. Even though I don't have a marketing team to go through, I do have other editors to confer with and convince. It's not as easy as you'd think, even when you do love the book.

      Delete

I love comments, but not spam. All spam will be deleted.