Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The One That Got Away

I've been wanting to post about this for a while, and I'm not just doing it. Not by any specific event, but really I have been chomping at the bit to update with a Junior Editor Spotlight and am awaiting answers from my first guest (there've been some delays due to vacations and pretty much an insane amount of work at the office right now).

Anyway, I wanted to write about "the one that got away." That is to say, those manuscripts, and every editor has them, that they loved but just couldn't buy for some reason. I wanted to talk about it, both because it is a part of the business that is really sad for us, but also to show those aspiring authors out there that sometimes you're not the only ones who are sad when an editor can't buy your book. And that is something to remember - not all rejections mean the editor didn't like your book. Sometimes we loved it but there are other factors.

Editors of all levels do A LOT of reading and it is a constant struggle to keep up with the seemingly neverending piles of potential published books. Most of them we just won't connect with for some reason - either they need way too much work, or they aren't right for our list or they aren't really a children's novel. So when we find those projects that really call out to us, it is a really exciting (and scary) time for us. I say scary because there are a lot of steps (I won't bore you with the details, since I've described them in previous posts) and at any one of those steps, we could be given a reason why we can't take this book any further.

There have been several times when I've really loved a project and couldn't buy it. Once I brought a project to my weekly editorial meeting to get extra readers. They agreed it was a great story but that it needed a lot of work. So I offered to do a revision. When I got the revision back, we discussed it and decided it still needed too much work to take on as-is, so I offered to do another revision. Unfortunately, at that stage, another editor had made an offer on it and it went somewhere else. Another time, I brought this great project to editorial meeting and my readers had positive feedback but thought it needed work. I did the revision with the author and thought it turned out great, but when I brought it back to edit meeting, my team just didn't think it was working and I had to pass. I've also seen books go all the way up to the Publications Committee meeting, with multiple editors really excited about a book and the Editorial Director's support...and they just don't like it, or get it, or think we can publish it well...and you can't argue with the Pub Comm team. They know they're shit.

It's quite sad when you lose a project, either having to reject it or seeing it go to another house. But those are also the projects that can become your "I toldja so" books. Those books that go somewhere else, do well, and you can forever say, "I toldja so" to your team. I have a few of those, none that have hit the bestseller lists or won major awards yet, but we'll see. And when you lose those books, no matter how they do, it's always great to see how that other publisher handles that book and watch it come to life from an outside perspective.

So for aspiring authors who think every rejection means we don't like your book---just remember, sometimes it hurts us as much as it hurts you and sometimes we really don't want to reject it either. But publishing is a team effort and if the team can't get behind a book, it's better off somewhere that will know how best to support it or that believes in it more. And that editor who had to reject you will be out there, rooting you on as an industry cheerleader, and probably bugging your agent or editor for an ARC when they come in.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Also, I can't believe I didn't post about this when it happened or even the last time I updated, but I got promoted. I mentioned it in in the post below, but I wanted to call it out because it's exciting. I am now an Assistant Editor. YAY!

And in other news, stay tuned for another series of blog posts from me. This series will be called the Junior Editor Spotlight. I wanted to give a shoutout to some editors out there in the kid lit arena who are in the range of Editorial Assistant to Associate Editor, since we're the younguns, the ones who don't necessarily get as much credit or as much recognition, despite doing a lot of work behind the scenes. And mostly because we're all trying to build our careers and build our names and it'll be a fun way to show readers who is out there that you might not have heard about yet. I have the first few interviews already planned, but I also want to mention that if anyone has any suggestions for junior editors they'd like me to interview, feel free to leave their names in the comments section or email me. It's ok if you don't have their contact information - I'm good at tracking people down if I don't already know them. >:-) *evil laugh*

Editor's First Acquisition | Buying the Book

I think now is a great time to post about the experience of buying my first book. This time next week, it will have been exactly a year since I found out I had won HATE LIST at auction. Before I tell you about how that happened, I want to share the cover, since we're finally able to share it.

What do you think? I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.

As I've mentioned in a previous blog, the events that led up to the agent sending me this manuscript feel like real networking destiny. When I got it, I thought the idea sounded interesting. It was a Friday, so I put it in my e-reader and told myself I would start looking at it over the weekend. The agent, Cori Deyoe from 3 Seas Literary, had sent me 50 pages and told me to let her know if I wanted to see more and I had sent an immediate response and asked her to please send me the full (why not - I have the e-reader, it won't break my back). I started reading Saturday night before bed and Sunday I decided to come into the office for some reason unknown to me. I finished the first 50, walking down the street, as I got to my building and I was really upset that I had hit the end. Luckily, Cori had sent me the full after I had left and it was waiting in my inbox when I got up to my desk. Now again I feel like destiny was in play, because I decided that I did not want to stay at the office and do whatever it was I had decided to come in for...so I went home and kept reading (what, at the time, was called) HERO. I finished it before bed that night, came in the next morning and told my boss "I have to have this book!" Now I think it's interesting because, had I decided to stay and do work, I might not have finished it in one sitting, but had I decided earlier that I didn't want to do work, I might not have come in and picked up the full manuscript either. Destiny people. Proof of destiny.

So once I was in love, it was my job to get others to fall in love, which they did. And that was when I got the call. There were offers on the book. Oh no!! Soon after, there was enough interest to merit an auction. But oh no again! I was about to leave for a library conference in Minneapolis and I hadn't even received approval from the Editorial Director to bring this project to our Acquisitions Committee.

So what did I do? I set up a meeting between my boss, the Paperback Director, and the Editorial Director, prepared all of the memos and materials JUST IN CASE I received approval to bring this to the Acquisitions Committee, and off I went to Minneapolis. Luckily I have a great boss who represented me in my absence and really made sure to express my enthusiasm. And it was unanimous, across the board…yes we have to have this book! Awesome! Of course, the stress didn’t go away just yet...what if someone outbid us? What if they don't outbid us, but the author and agent decide to go with them for some other reason? Getting on my flight back, I knew this: we had a bid on the table and I'd hear back on Monday. Oh weekend, you dirty tyrant!

When I received the call on Monday that they had decided to take our offer, I was like a tightly coiled spring trying not to bounce around like an idiot (too unprofessional). My mother screamed in my ear excitedly when I called her, but my boss was more reserved in her elation. And I still have all of the emails of excitement from the Acquisition folks when I told them the news.

And now it's been a year, a wonderful year, since that day. So much has happened since then---the title has changed, the ARCs are in, my boss is now the Editorial Director, I've acquired a few more books and been promoted, and I should be seeing a proposal and sample chapters for Jennifer's 2nd book soon. I can't believe it's been a year, and I can't believe there's only another half year (short in adult years and in Narnia years) before the book is out. I'm so freaking proud of this book and sometimes it's difficult to control my elation. And because I can't control my elation, thus negating any sort of proper conclusion to this post, I'll leave you with this link, to Jennifer Brown's blog, where you'll find pictures of her receiving her ARCs.