Wednesday, July 30, 2008

At the Editor's Desk!

...It's a long, long wait
While I'm sitting in committee...

Our story is making amazing progress! Very few ideas make it to manuscript form, fewer still get the agent's nod, but now that it has reached the editor's desk--we'll know if it has any shot of all of ever getting on the shelves! Today we have Andrew Karre, acquisitions editor for Llewellyn Worldwide and FLUX to discuss his role in taking a story and turning into a book:

The basic outlines of the book publication process are fairly consistent: agents send me manuscripts, I read them, I talk to the agent, then the author, I pitch the book to an acquisitions committee comprised of other editors and publishing types, I make an offer, we negotiate, everyone agrees, and a place in the catalog is born. Then the comes the hard work of revision, editing, packaging, promoting, and finally selling. Every book hits these marks along the path, but every book, in my experience, also takes a few detours—and that’s often where things get interesting.

In the case of Debbie’s book, there was a rather severe detour followed by an abrupt and very fortunate for me U-turn. I just looked, and my memory is correct. I have an unsent, unfinished rejection letter in my files for Debbie’s book. I don’t remember exactly why I waffled so much on the book, but almost two years ago I wrote to her agent: “Thanks for sending Swimming with the Sharks. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with this one”. I didn’t even finish the sentence.

What does this mean? I think it’s a good illustration of how capricious and gut-level publishing decisions can be. My concern was probably whether I had an adequate vision for the book, from content to packaging, and whether we were well suited to publishing and selling the book. It was never a question of whether the book was “good enough,” rather it was a question of whether the combination of Flux and Debbie and Debbie’s novel was good enough. At some point in the course of writing that rejection, something must have occurred to me that made me change me conception of how we could do the book.

Almost exactly two years later, I’m very glad we did. Debbie’s revisions were thoughtful and made a good book better. I think the package is eye-catching and intriguing. And Debbie herself is easily one of our most popular authors with publicity. It’s a good match. I’m glad I didn’t screw it up.--Andrew Karre

Wow, what an inspirational story! Thanks for giving us the insight into how an editor evaluates a manuscript! Further proof that going from story to book is not as easy as it looks. Now our story is set to be published, it's getting ready for the big leagues--and now must pass muster with another group of folks--book sellers!

7 comments:

Jessica Burkhart said...

Wow, great story! I can't wait to read the book. :)

Ellen Booraem said...

That's a heart-stopping story! So close to not happening...life is a precarious business, isn't it?

Book Chic said...

Loved this entry! It's so cool to be reading all these perspectives along the road to publication. It was great also to hear about the road that Debbie's second book took to get published.

Jody Feldman said...

Verrrry interesting. I'd love to know -- as he would -- what stopped him from finishing that sentence.

debbierfischer said...

I'd love to know too, Jody! I guess what Andrew means is that sometimes it's just an inexplicable, gut feeling. Glad to know my book had that effect, and so interesting to read the process from an editor's perspective. I'm also glad Andrew had his own vision for the book that I could embrace and explore with revisions. Great post, Andrew!

Anonymous said...

So thoughtful and well said. Thanks Erin! Zu

slayground said...

Kudos, Andrew, for all of your hard work. It's very cool to hear the backstory.