A Snarkling hopes to sweeten the pot:
When you read a query , is it bad news to hear that a publisher has expressed interest in the project? (Not an offer yet -- just a request to see the manuscript.) I would have thought it spoke well of the book's commercial potential, no?
well...not no, but not exactly yes.
In order of preference here's what "expressed an interest" can mean:
1. You queried an editor by name at a reputable publisher and that editor asked to see the novel.
2. You queried an editor by name at a reputable publisher and someone else sent you a form letter saying "send pages".
3. You met an editor at a writing conference and s/he said 'send me some pages'
4 You met an editor at a party and s/he said "send me some pages"
5. You know an editor and you're sure s/he will want to see this.
And if you think I'm making up 3, 4, and 5 I can only say I wish I did. I've had pitch meetings with editors set up by clients cause the client and the editor go to the same fortune teller or soccer camp or have the same drug dealer or something. I was never quite clear on how the connection so to speak came to be.
But, yes, if you've got situations 1 or 2, you bet that moves you up the list.