Tuesday, March 16, 2010

what if a submission needs more work? (Your Questions continued)

Keith Popely aks: On a variation on Caroline's question: what if you get a book you really don't want to reject, but it just needs more work? Is there some some sort of conditional acceptance? Or is it only reject or accept?

This happens all the time. It depends on how much work, exactly, is needed. I'm assuming you're talking about more work than I would normally anticipate doing in an edit. For some companies, this would be an immediate no-go, as many editors are only allowed to buy projects that are very close to publishable. For me, this usually isn't a problem. I'm an editing editor--all the companies I have worked for have allowed me to be a hands-on works-with-the-author-to-make-things-better kinda gal, which I really enjoy (secretly, I like editing better than acquisitions; shh, please don't tell). So as long as the revisions seem to be something the author is on board with and able to execute, there probably isn't a contract barrier.

As far as "conditional acceptance," yes indeed, that exists as a thing! First of all, "acceptance" itself is a contractual stipulation that protects the editor. Often, second advances are payable "on delivery and acceptance"--so the author doesn't get paid when s/he turns the finished manuscript in, but rather when the publisher accepts that manuscript as publishable. This provides the author with a fiscal incentive to work cooperatively with the publisher, as well as a means for publishers to take on not-quite-perfect books with less risk. (I realize my perspective here sounds very pro-editor as opposed to pro-author, but I honestly think conditional acceptance benefits both parties, since the editorial process can get really tiresome and emotional, so having the contractual real-world marker helps everyone keep the will and inspiration to create a better book.)

Sometimes--but pretty rarely--there will actually be a contractual clause specifying what makes the book acceptable (including a chapter/section on XX, etc). But this is really pretty rare. I've only seen it a couple times.

In the case that the project has great promise but there's some crucial piece missing/something about the premise that doesn't jive for me, something that my edit wouldn't be able to change or fix, or if the edits required are something I'm not sure the author could handle/execute (and in the cases of really substantial changes, how could I know if the author could edit well unless I'd worked with them before?), then I pass but tell the agent very specifically why in case the author plans to revisit. My usual line is to tell the agent good luck, Godspeed, etc, but if you don't sell the proposal as is and the author is willing to revise, will you come back to me? Usually agents are super-appreciative that you take time to give them any editorial feedback. I guess a lot of editors are just like "not for me" and that's that, but I figure if I put in the time to read the darn thing, why shouldn't someone benefit? And it it's the author/agent and not me who benefits from my work this time around, well hey, what goes around comes around, and that agent will remember I was helpful.



P.S. Got any good flu remedies? Ugh


Yes, Keith, I do! Actually, this is the Rally Monkey's mom's secret Filipino cure-all (in Italian-American culture, where I grew up, the cure-all was butter, but it's less applicable in this situation).

Go to the grocery store and buy a big ol' fresh ginger root. Take it home, peel or chop off the rough knobby pieces on the outside, and slice it up into small pieces (the more surface area, the better). Put all the pieces in a pot, fill the pot with water, and boil the heck out of it.

Not everybody likes fresh ginger (in fact some people hate it), so you can disguise the taste with as much or little honey as you choose. But I've found it really, really helps clear nasal passages, ease sore throat, and calm coughing. Also, it's an astringent, so I picture it doing battle in my tummy with all the evil germs. Plus, if you drink enough of it, it's a great way to stay hydrated. Many birds, one ginger root. You can keep loading on water and re-boiling; a root of ginger will yield a lot of flavor.

I'm currently on it myself, since it seems I have caught whatever nasty thing the RM brought home.

15 comments:

Alexis Grant said...

Such a helpful post. Thank YOU!

Also, love this line... What author wouldn't?

"I figure if I put in the time to read the darn thing, why shouldn't someone benefit?"

We appreciate you putting in the extra effort to help us improve.

C(h)ristine said...

...and I thank you for spreading the help to your blog. I've been reading for awhile, and thought I would send a belated thank you for all your posts.

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the insight and the phlegm remedy. I'm making a ginger root run today.

Rick Daley said...

My agent and I *should* be ready to submit my MG manuscript, I'm waiting for her feedback after the most recent round of minor revisions. I am very fortunate to have an agent who is a former editor, and she has been invaluable in her feedback. I am one lucky writer!

Ginger tea is awesome. I haven't tried it with fresh ginger, though...must put ginger root on the shopping list.

jjdebenedictis said...

Plus ginger is an anti-nausea drug!

They use it in some motion sickness pills, and I can vouch for the fact that ginger tea helps calm an upset stomach (but probably don't add the honey.)

Kristi said...

Thanks for the ginger tip - our entire household could use some of that water right now!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if that would work for stomach aches, too. I've sworn off ginger ale because of the high fructose corn syrup-- cannot find a brand locally that doesn't contain it.

Jill Myles said...

If you don't like ginger, my grandmother (a born and bred Quebecois) used to do the same with a whole onion. :)

(the finished product is something like a cross between hot tea and snot, but it gets the job done)

Sarita Rucker said...

I'll have to remember that flue remedy.

I tagged you in a fun blog game in my most recent post, by the way. http://collegegirlsdays.blogspot.com/2010/03/photo-game.html

Sarita Rucker said...

...And I also just nominated you for a blog award... http://collegegirlsdays.blogspot.com/2010/03/sunshine-award.html

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

great post! I know it was true for the company that picked me up. They offered me a contract on condition that I changed certain things in my manuscript.

Imogen said...

Thank you for thre cold remedy tip. Ginger is apprently great for morning sickness (sadly have never had occasion to test drive this one).

Another good cold pick-me-up, at least as far as helping one to think more clearly at the my-head-is-full-of-concrete stage, is the juice of a fresh lemon added to a strong expresso. It does taste vile, though.

Bonnie (Caeasso) said...

I had to laugh out loud when I realized "the ginger root" metaphor was not a metaphor for rough, nubby drafts you have to peel, but an actual aid to a clear nasal passages. The "honey" addendudum read quite disingenuous, before I decided to do more than skim the end of the post.
[delicaltely scratches brow with ring finger as repeated face palms are starting to bruise]

Bonnie (Caeasso) said...

I had to laugh out loud when I realized "the ginger root" metaphor was not a metaphor for rough, nubby drafts you have to peel, but an actual aid to a clear nasal passages. The "honey" addendudum read quite disingenuous, before I decided to do more than skim the end of the post.
[delicaltely scratches brow with ring finger as repeated face palms are starting to bruise]

Theresa Milstein said...

I found this post from "There Are no Rules". I'm glad I did. Thanks for the tips.