My title is Snark of all she surveys of course

About a century ago (back on 10-02-2005), under the heading "When am I really rejected?" you answered questions from a writer whose agent seemed to be suffering from deflating enthusiasm after only seven rejections.

In part, your response ran:

Unless those 7 rejections you‚ve got are the top of the pyramid at each publisher (and my guess is they aren't), you've got a ways to go before you've talked to even half.

Figure you can talk to about half, cause you can‚t really pitch someone else if his/her boss has already said no.

I am facing a similar situation after a similar (though slightly smaller) number of rejections. My question is, how can I tell how close to the top of the pyramid I've been pitched? The titles I see on the rejection letters seem quite impressive (Executive Editor; Senior Editor; Vice President & Executive Editor), and I'm guessing that we've been going in at a high level. (And I might add that all of these people seem to know my agent personally, so she isn't just flinging the manuscript at the highest target she can find.)

On the other hand, every corner bank has at least three Vice Presidents. What do these sorts of titles imply in publishing, and does it tend to be consistent from house to house?

Thanks for snarking,

It's consisent mostly.

VP and Exec Editor is someone who is still taking on clients (big names mostly) but has earned a lot of dough for the house and thus is now a VP (this is where the 3 vp in the bank rule is seen). This is pretty much the top of the pyramid. Head of imprint, publishers, also are top of the pyramid.

Exec Ed is a long term, successfull editor who is acquiring, and also supervising. Mostly a top flight rejection here too.
Editor at large fits here too.

Senior editor is acquiring and editing. Mostly I don't ask any other senior editors to review things if one has said no.

Then there are editors, associate editors and assistant editors, who are not editorial assistants. Got that? ya, me neither.

These are the ones who can be queried again if one of their ilk says no, but not if the senior editor they report to (or anyone higher) has said no.

There are editors, and former editors who pop over to this blog periodically. I'll be glad to hear their input.


Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, I'm wondering how high on the food chain it's sensible to submit manuscripts to if authors are subbing ms's themselves. The reason I ask is that when we're looking for the names of the editors at a certain house, Writer's Digest etc. usually give us the names of the SENIOR editors but not the more lowly ones. I had never subbed to senior editors, assuming they deal with the big-name authors, and that newbies should start lower down the food chain. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

A superb answer to my question. Unfortunately, it also implies that we really are running out of places to submit...Yikes.

Anonymous said...

An assistant editor generally does some independent projects AND assists somebody higher up with his or hers. Generally.

If the senior editor in the next office had rejected something, and I received it (associate editor was my title), I *could* bring it in to pub board for consideration if I wanted. Whereas the publishing director sat on pub board, if he'd said no, he'd say it again. So in that much I agree.

I could have brought it in. But it was highly unlikely. And not because Danielle outranked me--in practice, she didn't, she just got more money and a corporate credit card.

Because if it wasn't right for us, it wasn't right for us. Everything was discussed at a pre-pub board meeting, and if one of us had already rejected a proposal, we'd say why.

And I resented agents that tried more than one of us (few did)--it's a drag on company time.

But we had different specialties, so it didn't come up that much. Where taste dictates more than category responsibility, this might be less of an issue. And we did just nonfiction, not fiction.

At the least I think the cover letter should disclose the prior rejection by the colleague.