I heard it through the grapevine

Dear Miss Snark,

Can you give us bloggers some examples of conversations you have with publishers? When they love a manuscript do they simply say, “We love it? We want it.”? When they seriously considered a manuscript but decided to pass, is that what they say, “Liked it, but we’re going to pass.”? When they think something sucks, are they ever specific about what exactly it was they hated, and do you ever pass that information along to your clients, good or bad?

Like agents, editors hardly ever say "it sux" to projects. They have dreaded form letters much like we do, and I have a stack right here to prove it.

Mostly they email. If we're in a phone call, the rejection is usually pretty low key. UNLIKE my queriers, I have an ongoing relationship with most editors so we're both motivated to behave nicely, even under the extreme conditions of the editor losing her mind not to mention her taste in rejecting this obvious masterpiece.

And if this foolish rejection contains some nugget of useful info, and the client asks to see it, I send it along. Generally though, rejection letters are not critiques. Editors save their editing for work they're actually acquiring.

When they buy, what they usually say is "yes we're going to make an offer". Then the fun begins. Savvy editors hardly every say "I love this I must have it" for the same reason you don't say that on a used car lot.


Nobody said...

My last agent used to forward me the rejection letters. Most had a single line or two that gave a general idea of the problem area ("Not scary enough"; "Plot sags in the middle"; stuff like that). I found this really helpful, and have since improved my saggy middle regions as a result. Of course specific feedback is necessarily rare in this business, which is why it's such a wonderful and unexpected gift when you get it.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I hardly know what to make out of publisher's comments. My agent forwarded me two that said yeah, we want to do this one and then total silence. My joy was short lived.

ORION said...

I asked and received both the email raves and rejections. Because my book was going to auction my agent knew it wouldn't break my heart and sent them all on to me. It was fascinating and informative, but it all boiled down to:
I loved it.
I didn't.