This is a repost from a journal entry I wrote back in 2008. Wow. Almost three years ago. I thought it timely to post it once more since I'm waiting at the gates of publishdom again, HOPE HOPE HOPING to get in this time. It's a reminder of why I need to be patient instead of expecting to hear back the next day.
I was once naive enough to think that if one editor liked my MS, I was as good as on a shelf. But here's the truth: there are six flaming hoops most manuscripts have to jump through (not to mention clear without any residual char marks) to end up a shiny new book:
- Your agent deems the MS a masterpiece and makes up a list of editors that she’s convinced will be enamored of your story and writing. She calls or emails a pitch. Just like when we send queries, it’s all subjective from there. Best case scenario, your agent is an ace at pitching and the majority will tell her to send it their way.
- Tick-tock, tick-tock. Now the waiting (Umm, shouldn’t we be used to this by now? Yet somehow, it’s still excruciating)—anywhere from days to months depending on: how excited your agent sounded when she pitched the book (salivating and heavy breathing usually garner a faster read) and how much other interest is generated from other editors along with how quickly feedback comes in.
- YAY! The MS passes its first read with glowing acclaim, but don’t pop that champagne cork quite yet (in fact, it's likely you won't know about the editor love at this point--they may not tell your agent anything yet). From there, the initial editor sends it anywhere from two to four other editors at her imprint for "second reads". If the book is to move one iota further in the process, these editors will have to share the first one’s enthusiasm. So this is where every author starts asking herself ... does my story have the staying power to hook anywhere from three to five editors so that they MUST acquire me before someone else steals me away? Eeps. Talk about pressure.
- Happy day! The votes are in, and all of the second reads LOVE your MS. Okay. So, time for an offer. Right? Nope. Now the MS is run by marketing to decide not only if your book can sell, but how well will it sell? It all comes down to bling. How much money can your precious baby rake in?
- Yippee! Marketing thinks you’re a shoo-in. But it’s still not time for the bubbly. The marketing team has to present their opinions at an acquisition meeting. If you’re keeping count, you’ve already had to impress at least six or more people at this point. Well, rally up that second wind, because now you’re sitting center ring in front of the big wigs. Publishers have a set amount of books they buy per year. So everyone on board for your story now has to prove why this book is the best thing for their imprint at this given time. From what I hear, this is a thumbs up--thumbs down kind of meeting. Whoever thought this book's entire future would be teetering on a thumb?
- Hallelujah! Your editor and new fan club managed to push your book through the acquisition meeting. Your agent gets the call or an email for a formal offer. What’s that sound I hear? Ahh. The sweet song of Veuve Clicquot purling into a long stemmed flute. Salud and drink up, my friend. You’ve earned it!
So, what should an author take from this? Dread, dire, and deep despair? One look on Amazon in the book section should banish such pessimism. Books galore. Many other authors have done it. We can, too.
Judging from all these hoops, one offer in itself is a windfall of grace. Should you manage to get more than one and go to auction—well, you have just been witness to a supernatural phenomenon.But let me say for the record, in case Somebody up there happens to be listening … I’ve always been partial to miracles. :-)
Honestly, with all I've been through waiting to published, I’ll be happy with one offer.
Thanks to these two blogs for their info on this subject: