Thursday, October 9, 2008

Harsh Realities

One of the more interesting bits of information I picked up at the last conference I attended was the way the editorial process works for novels.

At some smaller houses, the editors have free reign -- they choose what they want and, if all goes well, go with it. They like your writing, they like your agent and trust his or her opinion, they think the book can sell, they buy it.

But at most of the bigger houses, it's decided by committee. So, the editor picks your book, likes it enough to champion, and then takes it to the full staff for review. The process varies a bit per house, but your book is going to need a variety of champions in order to make it to the acceptance phase.

There are pros and cons to each, of course. You know at the smaller house that if they like you, they're going for it, which is cool. You know at the bigger house that if they like you, someone fought persuasivly to ensure they ALL like you.

Either way, it helps explain in part why the process takes (to writers) so long. The editor at the smaller house, having full authority, is going to be VERY careful and really consider all the options before saying "it's for us." The editor at the bigger house is going to do that, too, because he or she is going to then have to fight for your book. Careful consideration is being given all along the way.

The positive? When you DO get the contract offer, it's nice to know it means that they like you...they really, really like you!

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Blogger WKEverhart said...

"They like you. They really, really like you." Words every would-be writer longs to hear. I know I do. I desperately want to hear my agent on the other end of the phone saying that very thing.

There's only one way for the "newbie" to become a successful writer. You've got to work your butt off, then pick it up and work it off again. Process. It's all about the process.

A friend of mine, the late poet Rita Riddle, once described to me what it's like to send a piece off to the editor. She compared it to the first day of kindergarten. You know the child you put on the bus in the morning, but you're never sure who's getting off that bus in the afternoon.

We all have to learn the process, to go through the process. The operative word in the previous sentence? Through. No one can be lifted up from the first draft and landed in the cover art. Process takes time, sometimes a long time. It's nice to hear what might be going on in the process from submission to editor and that much desired contract. Thanks for sharing.

October 9, 2008 at 10:13 PM  

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