Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Technical Topic -- What an editor does

I was relaxing after the long sprint to the final on the manuscript of MAGGIE. And I knew I had to come back and face my echoing, empty blog. I feel like this teenager sneaking home and tiptoeing up the stairs WAY after curfew.

So this is me pussyfooting back into the blog, all casual like, and whistling a nonchalant little tune.

Anyhow ... I was posting an answer to a message board in response to how manuscripts get bought -- or not bought -- after an editor has shown some interest.

Having thought about this and made some notes about it, I thought I'd put the information I gleaned here in the blog, too.

n.b. I am not talking about things I have direct knowledge of. I'm pointing towards some more knowledgeable folks. This is useful and interesting but no one should mistake it for me actually knowing anything.

So. What happens after an editor says, "Yes. I like this"?

In a big New York print house, the editor takes the manuscript to a regular committtee meeting of the various associate and senior editors and the managing editor and some sales folks. They've mostly read the manuscripts.

The committee chooses among the possibles. They're going to do this based on what's good, but also on what books they've already bought, what other manuscripts are being offered this week, and generally what they think will sell.

The choices is ALSO going to depend on how enthusiastic the editor is about the manuscript. I think this is why we hear about editors turning down a manuscript they 'like but don't love'.
. . . Because the editor has to convince a hard audience to love the manuscript as much as she does.

Some 'day in the life of' blogs about being an editor are
Lori Foster's interview with Monique Patterson, Cindy Hwang and the much-missed Kate Duffy here, and a bit more stuff, here.
Bloomabilities here.
Moonrat, League of Reluctant Adults, here. And since you're nearby, go ahead and read about The Dream Author (from the Editor's point of view,) here.
Lucia at the Avon blog, here and here.
A Witchy Chicks interview with Kate Seaver of Berkley here.
And an interview with Betsy Mitchell of Warner here.
Steve Whacker, (Ok. Maybe it has nothing to do with committees,) here.


  1. Good information, Jo - and it's nice to see you back!

  2. Hi Tara --

    What it means -- me posting -- is that I've sent in the ms for MAGGIE, and got it back with editor changes, and sent IN those editor-requested changes.

    And I am just about done.

    In a week or two I'll get back the copyedits.

    So I'm going to spend the next week working on a few hundred words I plan to slip in at this eleventh hour.

    Today ...

    I'm not working.

    I lit a fire. Made coffee. Set some bread to rise. Put my feet up.

    I've pulled down a couple books from the TBR shelf.

    This will be a nice day.

  3. Mm, fire and bread and coffee... Sounds a dream, including the copy edits :-)
    I'm happy you're back!

  4. And a dog.

    One must not underestimate the cozy factor of a mid-sized mutt lying on the feet . . .

  5. You're right! Though we don't have the house for a dog yet :-( Does a fat cat and a skinny cat (one on the back of the sofa and one squeezed into the side of the sofa and the laptop) count?

  6. A cat, fat or skinny, is worth about 2 1/2 dogs on the coziness scale.

    I have a cat myself. About eight pounds of cat and another eight pounds of hair.
    It is Valley Girl Cat.

    Not -- let us be frank about this -- very bright.

    Cat, (looking out at rain): What? What? What?
    Jo, (at door): It's raining.
    Cat: What? What? What?
    Jo: In or out. There is no try.

    Cat darts out like small, fluffly streak of lighning.

    Three minutes later.

    Cat: Yowl! Yowl! Wet! Suffering!
    Jo (letting cat in): I told you it was raining.

  7. Bread, hm? I have been trying my hand at cooking lately and making sourdough bread is one of the things I aspire to.

    But apparently I need to get something from someone before I begin.

  8. Aren't cats the greatest :-) I lvoe it when they sit on the paper you're trying to write on or the newspaper your trying to read suddenly has a hole poked in it from the other side... Wouldn't trade it for anything!

    Tara, how far away do you live? :-) I made bread for the first time in my life a couple of weeks ago when a colleague gave me some Amish Friendship Bread starter - I've got piles of the stuff now! But as long as you can buy yeast I think you can make your own starter, too. Here's the one I've got:

  9. Deniz,

    I live in North Carolina - a little far from you, I think. :) Thanks for the link!

  10. @ Tara --

    I think sourdough is the 'advanced bread'
    and regular old yeast bread is the 'undergraduate bread'
    and baking powder raised goods are 'elementary level.'

    Which is to say -- I don't keep live sourdough starter meself because it is not so much baking as adopting a pet.

  11. Jo,

    LOL - from what I remember of my grandmother making it from scratch years ago, I have to agree.

  12. Neat - nice to know I'm finally an undergraduate after years of saying "I want to make bread!" and chickening out. Hmmm... must look into this sourdough business...