Category Archives: hope

Acquisitions: Welcome to Purgatory

…or so it may feel. For a while.

20130216_214254

My brother doing his best “just pressed SEND OMG” face.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “have you read my book yet?” I would love to jump straight to a great sub as soon as I get it, but alas, the cogs don’t always turn that way. This post is a guide to acquisitions process at a smaller house like ours. If you’re waiting on that nail-biting decision from us—or indeed, any other house—then I hope this is of use. In the meantime…be nice to yourself. Catch up on your sleep. Eat chocolate. Go for a run. Drink gin. Don’t get those last two mixed up.

First things first

Your submission hits my inbox (usually a little while after you sent it, unless you’re a roster author and you sub directly to your editor). We invite authors to send their fulls from the beginning, so it’s very much a case of huzzah! Book candy! I usually read a query/cover letter as soon as I open the email, but it may take me a while to read the actual book.

How long is “a while?”

Publishing is slow. We like to think at a smaller house that we can be a bit faster than average, but still…books get in the way of books. I try to read everything I’m sent in two weeks or so, but on occasion, it can take longer. I may have more submissions than usual; I may need to work on a book that wasn’t initially on my schedule; deadlines may have changed for a roster book and so my attentions end up elsewhere. Or occasionally, other things crop up (I ended up in hospital recently for “surprise” surgery. Apparently, making acquisitions on morphine isn’t encouraged. Bah). But rest assured: your book is always on my to-do list, and I’m always looking forward to finding a possible addition to my roster.

So once you’ve read the book…you can tell me what the answer is. Right?

It’s not that simple—but for good reason.

Once I’ve read the book (and have maybe taken a few days to think on my decision), I have to submit a recommendation. Trust me when I tell you that I spent a lot of time thinking through a prospective acquisition—I think about who would buy it, how we’d package it, who would want to review it. I Google the author, too—I like to see a decent platform, and preferably evidence that the author acts with decorum on social media. If extensive revisions are required then it can take hours to write them up in a detailed manner. Getting this stuff absolutely right is part of my job.

My recommendation will be discussed with the executive editor. Ideas may be thrown around; some books need little work, but others need more development and it’s important to ascertain exactly what that would consist of before we take the offer to the author. Then we have to decide how many books the contract will be for or when it might be released. This can add a fair bit of time to the decision making because we’ll be waiting on answers from various parties. But when it’s go, it’s go.

Acceptance! Yay! Or Rejection…Boo

Sending an acceptance is the loveliest feeling in the world. Really quite exciting. Sometimes, if I’m suggesting revisions, I even get a little nervous; I don’t want the writer to think I don’t love the work. If I’m sending any kind of acceptance, I adore it. (I’m very lucky that I get to work with such awesome manuscripts).

Rejections…it’s hard. I think our rejections are very gentle and encouraging, though. If I have the time, I may add a comment or two about why the book is not right for us, depending on whether or not I think it will be of help to the author. (Sometimes, a comment may only be of help if it’s a longer one, and I simply don’t have the time for that).

If you’ve got questions about acquisitions, go ahead and leave them in the comments—I’ll get back to answer them when I can. (Please note that I’m unable to comment on specific submissions).

Acquisitions Update: YA & NA

Apologies for lack of updates…various things have kept me very busy. The good news is that part of the “busy” was the acquisition of these very awesome titles:

ENDURE and EVOKE, a two-book dystopian YA series by Laura Diamond, in which  a teenage boy battles back against a vampiric dictatorship who use humans for both food and reality TV entertainment.

LIVING DEAD GIRL by Janine Pilkington, a New Adult romance that I pitched to our exec ed as a paranormal BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, in which a young mortician falls for a bad boy punk rocker…until she dies, meets her sarcastic British Reaper, and realises love goes beyond the grave in all kinds of ways…

BY FORCE and BY CHOICE, a two-book New Adult fantasy romance series by Sara Hubbard, in which a girl is abducted by a group of domineering savages and travels through lands ruled by fairy magic to meet her rather fey fate.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about these books. Judging by the size of my slushpile, I may be adding to this post quite shortly…

 

Coping With Edits: An Author’s Guide

You sold your manuscript. Congratulations!

Aaaaaand then you get your edits.

Wow. That’s a LOT of edits. Erm.

I’ve been there; I’ve had three novels edited myself. And I admit right now–I was awake for hours at night stressing over issues like being asked to remove some semicolons. WHY WERE THEY MESSING WITH MY VOICE?

They weren’t actually messing with my voice. I had a craft issue…but that was not an easy pill to swallow. And I was so eager for praise that I forgot that it wasn’t really what being edited is about (though praise is usually present in some form, and it’s nice because it makes you feel like this:)

I’m getting off topic here (I blame David Boreanez). The point is that nomatter how wonderful your book is–and trust me, you got a contract, ergo you’ve got some awesome–there will always be issues to address in edits, and it’s difficult to be prepared for that. If you’re new to being edited, it can sometimes be stressful on occasion. It doesn’t happen to every author, but if you find yourself feeling this way, I’d like you to remember five words:

YOUR EDITOR LOVES YOUR BOOK.

Your editor wouldn’t have taken your project on if they didn’t think it was a fabulous read. They’ve got to spend hours working on it, and they’ve got to understand it in order to help you make sure it’s everything you want it to be. Sometimes, there are only minor issues; at other times, larger rewrites are requested. As an author, I used to find that this gave me palpitations(!), but now I find it almost comforting–challenging, yes, but I know I’m making improvements. As an editor, I know receiving a file full of comments and alterations can be nerve-wracking, but each and every one is made because it feels appropriate and wise to do so. Not one is personal, but every single one is designed to polish the manuscript until it shines.

During edits, it’s important to remember that you’re a professional and you’re working with other professionals. You’ve got the right to ask questions and to express dissatisfaction at any time, but keep it civil, even if you’re stressed by it. You should expect to be treated in the same polite fashion.

Good questions to ask yourself during edits

1) If I don’t want to make a specific change, is there something else I can change to achieve the same effect? Can I find a compromise?

2) What have I learned here? Can I apply it in other ways? (Editing is a learning experience)

3) How much time do I need to complete this pass? Can I do it within the requested deadline? How can I organise myself to meet the deadline?

4) How will I reward myself for finishing this pass, thus being at least 62.4% more awesome? (Cake! Netflix! GIN!)

Bad questions to ask yourself during edits

1) Why am I bothering with this piece of crap when there’s so much wrong with it?

2) What would House do?

But eventually, you’re done…

Oh, look at that. You’ve now finished your edits. More congratulations!

The Happy Dance; best performed in private.

You’re a better author when you get out of edits. Your editor is probably a better editor, too. You both learn things during the process and the result of it all is your gorgeous book. You’re entitled to feel very smug at this point.

Go forth and smug. Smuggit. Smuggery.

WHY IS THERE NO VERB FORM FOR SMUG?

Hunting STRAIGHTJACKET

There’s an interesting story behind the acquisition of Meredith Towbin‘s debut novel, STRAIGHTJACKET. Since it was released yesterday (Feb 15th), it seems like a good time to share.

I began my publishing career a couple of years ago as an editorial intern. A few months into that position, I read Meredith’s manuscript (which had a very different title, back then) and fell in love with Anna and Caleb. I was sold.

As is the nature of the (publishing) beast, not all good books are offered contracts. Meredith and her agent moved on; I bravely soldiered on through the slush (it was rough at times, but it was also a job I could do in my pyjamas. I shouldn’t complain. Ahem).

A year or so later, I moved to Etopia Press to work exclusively with YA fiction  and to build my own roster. I acquired my first few authors the usual way–they approached us with their manuscripts, we loved them, and we offered contracts.  I still thought of Meredith’s novel sometimes; Anna and Caleb had stuck with me as complex, original characters always do. One might say they even haunted me a little. A Google search showed no deal reports for the manuscript and so I decided to email the agent and see if it was still available.

Then…I waited.

A week, maybe two weeks passed. I assumed the manuscript was off the table.

And then the agent replied. A few weeks of negotiation later and we had a deal for the novel that became STRAIGHTJACKET. This, readers, is a narrative so poignant that it hung around my brain until I was in a position to hunt it down and offer on it myself.

To writers: sometimes, it happens. Rejection is not always The End. Sometimes, it just takes a little longer to get the pot of gold at The End of the rainbow, and then it looks like this:

Straightjacket_ByMeredithTowbin-50pct

Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.

He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.

Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the guy “with issues,” but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for the two of them, filled with hope. Then just as it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…

Amazon         B&N       Kobo

STRAIGHTJACKET will be released in print on March 15th 2013