5 Reasons I Say No to a Good Book

I hate writing rejections. I hate writing rejections even more when I have to say no to an amazing book. But, because the world of publishing isn’t all kittens and rainbows (alas!), sometimes I do have to say no to an awesome story. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. I already have a book like it. I will read retellings all day, but I can’t have three Beauty and the Beast stories on my list at one time, even if they are all top notch. Having competition within your list is tough on marketing and on sales—marketing can’t keep pitching the same kind of book, and buyers won’t take repetitive stories from a publisher. Continue reading

The Subjective Editor: Why taste matters (and why that’s okay)

When I first started as an editor, I hated sending rejections to authors or agents with a note saying, “sorry, but it just wasn’t my thing.” I always wanted to give concrete, constructive feedback about why I didn’t feel I could acquire the book. I still want to do that, if only because that’s my job.

But sometimes, there are no typos to blame. Sometimes the characters are interesting and well developed. Sometimes the book may be the most marketable thing since sliced bread (or, you know, since the latest novel by John Green). But I still may not have completely connected to the story or the writing. And taste isn’t something an author can fix by running spell check or making a few tweaks.

In those instances, I dreaded writing rejections. What good was I doing anyone if I said the book just wasn’t a fit for my taste?

Well, it turns out, I was doing everyone involved a lot of good. Continue reading

A Brief History of Publishing Timelines

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the publishing world moves slowly. Despite our best intentions to be agile and respond to trends in the marketplace, there are just some things you can’t rush. Below is a look at a typical schedule a book goes through from pitch to published.*

*Note that not all books follow this schedule; some can move much faster or much slower, depending on the product.

Manuscript Review: 2-6 weeks. From the time a manuscript hits my inbox to the time I’ve read, responded, and decided to move forward on a title, we’re usually looking at about one month. Sometimes this moves a lot faster, say if I get a submission from an author or agent I’ve worked with in the past or if a pitch is exceptionally intriguing. After I read, I always try to get at least one other opinion on the book from our editorial team to make sure other folks see the potential I do. Continue reading

The Acquisition Decision: How I Pick a Manuscript

I’ll be the first to admit I HATE sending rejections. I usually save them all up to do every few weeks, blast the Frozen soundtrack, and force myself to type out those emails to agents and authors I admire. In life, I am a yes person. But as an editor, I have to also be a no person. It’s an incredibly hard thing to do, because even the worst book in the world has merit. All the mediocre books are steps toward creating art. And the great books have the ability to change lives.

So how do I choose those handful of titles that will be mine? Dozens of wonderful manuscripts come across my desk every year. And yet I only get to choose a select few to publish.

First and foremost, I have to fall in love. Not “oh, I could keep reading this because I have nothing else to do.” Not “hmm, that’s pretty good.” It has to be L-O-V-E loveContinue reading