Wednesday, October 22, 2008

too many submissions? (or, be nice to the Ass)

Someone posted this comment on my recent celebratory book success post.
Moonrat,

As someone with a novel currently on submission, I was momentarily heartwarmed by The Little Novel That Could. But then I saw your post from a few days ago - 17 submissions in one week - and a cold chill went down my spine. Any one of the Gang of 17 still alive to tell a tale?

Fair question.

Don't worry about the 17 projects. The number of projects I get in has no relation to the number of projects I acquire. I only acquire things I love; if I don't get anything I love, then I don't buy any projects. If there are a lot of things I love, I bring them all up to Robert the Publisher and buy the ones that pass our board meeting. If 16 of the 17 projects were life-changingly awesome and we all agreed on it, I'd buy them all--honestly. There will be a time of proposal famine in the future and it will balance out the flood.

Also, I never read a project right away (and maybe you think I'm a slacker, but I promise most editors are like this). My fabulous assistant reads them all and gives me reader's reports first. That way I can prioritize the projects that have real promise and I'll have two, not one, reads on the manuscript when I go into ed meeting. (So yeah... incentive to be really, really nice to editorial assistants.)

7 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Good insight into how you work.

Anonymous said...

Hi Moonrat,

I absolutely love how you answer the questions I have floating around in my head!

To follow up on this, how long does it take the assistant to read before she passes it on? I know in other posts, you have said that you typically have a manuscript hanging around for a month before you get to it (and you need nudging from an agent to do so)--so is this nudge so that the assistant can read it? Is there ever a case where you read it first--and if so what would inspire you to do so? (referral from a friend? Great pre-pub blurb, etc..)

Thanks!

moonrat said...

Anon--I pass them along to my assistant to read right away. Of course, she has a lot to do, so although she reads them when she can, the nudge from an agent might help HER prioritize a project, too.

Typically, someone will have read the project (usually the Great Ass) within 2 weeks of receipt. If she gives it an awesome review, then I take it home to review before ed meeting--even if I haven't been nudged. But to be honest, she finds reasons 90% of the proposals I receive won't work on my list.

Cases where I will take something home on the first day I get it: when the referral is from an agent friend who has given me a really personalized pitch in why the book is a good fit. Phone calls from agents that talk me through this are more persuasive than emails.

AC said...

I love seeing inside an editor's head. Thanks for the post, Moonrat!

Colleen_Katana said...

Ahhh, reader's reports. I've gotten to know them all too well, lately.

Briane P said...

I like the idea of more than one reader. But what if the assistant doesn't like it? Do you still read it? Do the two of you have similar tastes?

Also, do you do that with query letters, too? How do query letters get judged?

Precie said...

If 16 of the 17 projects were life-changingly awesome and we all agreed on it, I'd buy them all--honestly. There will be a time of proposal famine in the future and it will balance out the flood.

Now THAT's cause for optimism.

So...it's not like your company has an annual budget for projects? Or, say, a cap on how much it can spend on new projects per year? I get the fact that there are downturns in submissions, but would it really all shake out in the end if you bought all (for example) 17 projects you loved?