No gnashing of teeth

Dear Miss Snark,

My agent reports that an editor at a major publishing house is taking my manuscript (fiction) to her next editorial meeting. How often do these meetings happen? If you had heard this kind of thing from an editor, when would you expect to learn the results of the meeting? What does it mean if two weeks pass with no word?

Thanks for this and any other insights you can share about this part of the process.

Well, I'd find out when the next meeting was and give her a couple days to polish up her excuses about why my book wasn't mentioned, then I'd call her.

This is a good step actually. It means the editor wants to acquire the book. It's nowhere near a slam dunk that this will happen. LOTS of people go to those meetings and they all have agendas and it's easier to say no than risk yes. Some companies have these meetings once a week, some once a month. My favorites have none; they just buy it.

All that aside, it's Christmas season here in the 212 and we use this as an excuse to not do anything at all between Thanksgiving and ..oh...Valentines Day.

You're gnashing your teeth about something you have no control over. Time to go do something productive. I'll bet your library would LOVE to have you come and help shelve books. It's very therapeutic.


Jim Oglethorpe said...

Congrats! This is great news. My agent usually knows the day when the meeting takes place. Be guardadly optimistic. You have a product that somebody feels strongly enough to bring up in front of their peers.

There are three outcomes (I'm speaking completely from a non-fiction perspective): (1) they want the book (which has happened to me)(2) they don't want the book (which has also happened to me) or (3) they like the book but the marketing people want to do a phone interview with you to dig deeper into your platform. Just curious fiction agents/writers--does step 3 ever happen? Not sure.

Even if THEY don't want the book, it doesn't mean that someone else won't want it. Any status reports on other submissions?

Whatever the outcome, pat yourself on the back. Try not to dwell on it. It truly is out of your control. But it's great! I am very excited for you.

Anonymous said...

Re: Step 3: My editor just took my novel to a meeting and, since then, she's been calling me like crazy to get more marketing ammunition.

Anonymous said...

I've been in this position three times. My first MS got through The Meeting, I got an offer, but it was cancelled a few months later when my acquiring editor got a new job elsewhere. (Arrgh.) Meanwhile, I was writing a second MS, which made it to a different Meeting but not through it. Now, same MS, yet another Meeting.

My agent has been calling me for marketing ammo, too, specifically, novels I can compare to mine.

It's a gut-wrenching process, being so close and yet so very far from my lifelong dream. As Miss Snark counsels, I'm keeping busy working on MS 3, but I still jump every time the phone rings.

Anonymous said...

You're gnashing your teeth about something you have no control over.

This is the reason why it's probably a good thing that I didn't start submitting my fiction until I was in my early thirties because it was around the age of thirty that I had an experience that finally got through my thick head the truth that beyond a certain point, events are out of your control. The fact that I'm now consciously aware of the fact that there is a limit to how far you can influence/control the events in one's life has really helped me keep my sense of humor while submitting my work for consideration because there are so many factors that keep even a deserving manuscript from seeing print. I realize that all I can do is to write the best fiction I can, write the best query I can, be polite, submit, and hope for the best. After that point, it's out of my literal and proverbial hands.

Jeffrey Dean Palmatier

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad someone asked this question! I've been in this position twice with the lastest manuscript (fiction) my agent is submitting and several times in the past with other novels and a non fiction book that I submitted on my own before I got an agent. So far, I have yet to make it through the meeting and get an offer. Although I wish everyone success, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who's been shot down. And shot down more than once. I was beginning to feel like a big loser. I'm with Miss Snark, I'd love to find an editor at a house who loves my work and has the power to buy without going to committee. Think how many books I'd have published if this had been the case before!

To the person who asked the original question--I can sympathize with waiting by the phone. I hope you get positive news. You, too, anonymous!

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Regarding "love to find an editor at a house who loves my work and has the power to buy without going to committee" (Sorry, I'm a blog idiot and don't know how to do that cool pullout thing you do w/other people's posts. Please enlighten...)

My second non-fiction proposal was rejected at The Meeting by the same publisher that published my first book (which I guess could be considered a modest success, or at least not a total flop!) The Editor liked it but the group decided they just couldn't get it out in big numbers. It eventually got picked up by a smaller niche house.

Flash forward to my third non-fiction proposal. The acquiring editor was very enthusiastic but it got shot-down at The Meeting because too much competition in the marketplace. Or maybe I have an enemy within! Ha.

They were right--although there were editors that liked it at many houses, it just didn't make it through the board. The more I write, the less I stress out about rejection. I try to work on several things at the same time so I don't get anxious. This has helped not only during the proposal phase but during the publicity phase as well. It is encouraging when you get a "hit" but all of the stars must be aligned to turn that into an appearance.

Crossing the finish line is no easy feat. So many people weighing in. Sales, marketing, publicity, other editors w/their own proposals to promote. The great thing is that THE WRITING is good and got you to that stage. My fingers are crossed for you and all of us.

It's very interesting about the request for more marketing ammo. I can see it for non-fiction because of the platform issue. Curious about what they want from fiction writers (similar titles to compare it too is interesting-thanks for that) what else? Have any of you had to talk to marketing folks pre-offer?

Well, better go write. A deadline looms. Or maybe I'll have a cigarette.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering about these editors who can just acquire a book without going to The Meeting. Is it a matter of how high these editors are on the ladder within the company, or do different publishers have different policies on acquiring? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

"I'll bet your library would LOVE to have you come and help shelve books. It's very therapeutic."

Ha! Go to the library, check out some good stuff to read and stay the heck out of the way of the staff, who are trying to put the books back in order from the chaos left by the last volunteer.

Anonymous said...

Many of us have managed to jump the hurdle into The Meeting. And that's fabulous! It shows we're on the right track.

Jim: Your points are well taken. I really need to cultivate your attitude. My third manuscript is being shopped around now, with a few glowing rejections from editors. There is one editor who, bless her heart, likes it enough to fight for it. No word on that yet. Like others here, I'm on the same tenter hooks.

I'm guardedly optimistic and outwardly determined to march forward even if it doesn't sell. My mantra has been one of persistence. If this one doesn't sell, I'll write another one, and another, until I get it right.

But, when I'm awake and fretting at 3 a.m., these kinds of thoughts persist: If this manuscript doesn't make it, can I start over with Novel #4? Will my agent even keep me on? What if, after all this, I find myself back at Square One? Will I ever make it?

Anonymous said...

If your local library doesn't want you, Housing Works Bookstore does. Shelving, pricing, making cappuccino, working the cash register, selecting your "volunteer picks" -- all very therapeutic. Gets you off the computer and into the [socially conscious, literature-loving version of the] real world a few hours a week...

Anonymous said...

HA, SEE, I already volunteer a lot and do a great job at it. Who has the time to do anymore with submitting a new book, volunteering, writing group, book club, cleaning the house, cooking, shopping for gifts, helping my family out, exercising, taking care of the children, and etc.


Anonymous said...

Ha, See we you got the point!

See ya,

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Anon--it is much easier for me to have the "onward and upward" attitude because I write non-fiction. Sure, I've invested HOURS and HOURS and HOURS into a proposal. But if it gets rejected at The Meeting, I take it like a man (well, like a woman), shrug my shoulders and move on to a new project. I feel bad for my agent who has stuck her neck out for me. But I move on quickly and start something else. But I think it must be hard to adopt this attitude w/fiction. If I put my heart and soul into a novel--wrote and rewrote the whole damn thing, got that far into the process, it wouldn't be easy. That's why my hats are off to all the fiction writers out there. I'd love to try it someday but don't have the spine for it now (not to mention any good ideas.)

Anonymous said...

Good to read about others' experiences. Twice now I've had an editor take my book (nonfiction) to "The Meeting" then have it stop at that point. In both cases the editors' messages were positive and encouraging, expressing regrets, along with confidence the book would find a home somewhere. Kind of makes you realize we are all in the same boat, all along the chain: trying to "sell" something, facing rejection from the powers that be.