2.14.2007

It only takes one no

Miss Snark,

I recently worked with an editor from a midsize publishing house; for several months we went back and forth with revisions on my novel. No contract promised, but as long as his suggestions tightened the novel, I was all for playing along. At the end of it, I had a YA novel that was "the bomb," but he called to say that he ran it past the "money people" and they turned it down. So what I want to know is: jerking my chain? Are there "money people" that stare at passionate editors with glazed eyes and slowly shake their heads no? Or was he just saying that it still wasn't good enough after I had rewritten approximately 700,000 words and created a heroine with the deep, complex qualities of an excellent stew?



The Money People can and regularly do shoot down ideas editors have put a lot of time and effort into. This stage can be called "the boss said no" "the acquisitions committee said no" "the sales team said no" "the editorial board said no".

Getting an editor to yes is good, but it's not the final step.

We've all lost deals at that stage and it's never fun. It's sort of like being the third runner up at Miss America--no crown, no chance to step in if Miss America is found to have lesbian love bunny pics in her past, not even if the first runner up does too.

However, you have a better novel now. Go sell it to someone else. Making the best seller list is the revenge of choice on "the filthy lucre-tias".

12 comments:

Bryan D. Catherman said...

700,000 words? In just one YA novel?

anonahole said...

it always amuses me how amateur writers bemoan taking the time to learn how to actually write. i guess revising (and no, i don't mean running spell check) a book does get in the way of a healthy fantasy life.

Paul said...

I suspect the 700,000 words included several rewrites.

Ryan Field said...

700,000 words? I'm thinking maybe you hit one too many zeros and it's more like 70,000 words?

Anonymous said...

"revenge of choice" is the authors' dream everytimewe get a turn down. Thank you for validating us again, Miss Snark.

Ted W. Gross said...

Not the genre and not the word length, but the same sort of story happened to me with a great editor I am still friendly with.

He really wanted the non-fiction book, we were already editing it, but no more and no less than the CEO nixed it. And as the Editor said to me, "No where else to ask or go. CEO says no, it is a NO."

And that as they say is that.

Not a rare occurrence by the way as I have found out from other authors.

It sucks. Stinks. But you just got to move on. Cause once the "fat lady sings" that is the end of the opera at that Publishing House.

MHO - a no is a no is a no. Dont dwell. Move on.

Teddy Cobwebs Of The Mind

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

anonahole, you are well named. Do you always attribute the worst possible motives to people?

The poster isn't moaning about learning to rewrite. He/she is trying to figure out what train hit him.

If you take the time to actually read what this person says, you find that they liked the result of the rewrite. Isn't that recognition of benefit in the process?

You may see yourself as a professional writer and such you may be, but you aren't a professional reader. I think most school districts in the USA offer free remedial reading classes for adults. Take one. Work on your reading comprehension. And take the Bill E. Goat School of Charm and Deportment's online classes in civility.

anonahole said...

sha'el: as an agent, i think i'm as close to a professional reader as one can be.

Jeanne said...

Anonahole, I agree with sha'el. You're missing the message.
Good luck to the writer!

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Well, my first attempt to respond went down the blogspot outhouse hole. Google should fix this. It's not nice to irritate pixies.

Dear anonahole:

I hold to my position. You need help with reading comprehension. You misunderstood what this poster said, and you were cranky about it too. That's a charitable view and as nice as I can be over this.

The uncharitable view, and probably the more accurate view, is that you should seek other employment. Being an "agent" isn't the same as being a good agent. Being human isn't the same as being humane. Agents' incomes depend on writers. New writers are essential to both agents and publishers. So while I'm sure you're an agent, I'm not sure of your reading comprehension or your humanity or your good judgement. In fact, I'm positive your comment lacks good judgment.

If you are whom I believe you to be, I've read your blog a few times. You give yourself away with the "amateur writer" phrase. Being cranky, outre, or a tad nasty doesn't make you appealing. And the ability to pronounce one word after another doesn't make you a reader either. Probably you did understand that our poster didn't say anything close to what you represented in your post. You have a complaint and you wished to voice it here. You used this post as an excuse to complain. This is unkind to the poster.

Chumplet said...

Go, Pixie!

Even the most seasoned writers may have their manuscripts polished with the help of a kind editor, and then have it rejected by the money guys. This experience is not necessarily confined to the newbies.

Anonahole, you need an attitude adjustment.

#1wordsmith said...

Ahhh! Sha'el, I am rapturous as I read your comments to the resident ahole. I so wanted to make similar commentary but you beat me to it!

I, too, find it difficult to be civil at times when I read some post from someone who clearly needs to heed the advice, "Don't quit your day job." But the initial poster here may or may not fall into that category. In fact, I suspect the opposite may well be the case here since the writer's agent was apparently willing to dedicate a considerable amount of time to this author and his or her work. There must have been something of merit in the work and, if ahole is genuinely an agent of any substance he or she should know that an agent's time - with signed clients, publishers' reps, would-be clients, and on anon - is precious indeed. A ms would likely have to be more than a tiny bit compelling to induce an agent to put months of work into it purely on spec.

Further, consideration of the author's post reveals that he or she was willing to invest the time making recommended revisions because "...as long as his suggestions tightened the novel, I was all for playing along."

This does not seem to be a case of some amateur writer bemoaning his plight. I think ahole would be well-served to take a few steps down from the top of the pedestal.

As an erudite gentleman of my acquaintance once pointed out, "We ain't none of us as good or as bad as we think." It would probably do us all some good to remember that when we start passing judgment on other people's motives ... hm, ahole?