Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process

An Editor’s Day

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Why isn’t the editor getting back to me? If your manuscript was unsolicited, it ends up in the slush pile. The slush pile gets read last. But even if your manuscript was requested, it will take time for the editor to respond. Here’s why:


Editor 1: 5 Ms that occupy one editor’s day:

  • Meetings – they are “not what’s get in the way of my work, they ARE my work”
  • Marketing – “performances” – includes flap copy, which is so important
  • Mail
  • Mechanics – looking at the different stages of the book in the manufacturing process
  • Manuscripts

His “M” for manuscripts includes the ones he’s editing now. That doesn’t leave much time to look at new projects.


Editor 2: A glimpse into what one senior editor does:

  • Budget for next year – chart of all books – project costs, copies selling, etc.
  • Budget for conference, conventions, staff, salaries
  • Manage staff – pour oil over troubled water – part the Red Sea
  • Balance list
  • Manage up – be aware of what managers want
  • Proposals for books that she’s bidding on
  • Look at profit and loss statements for individual books and the department
  • Schmooze with authors, agents
  • Make print and buying decisions
  • Read books the house may acquire
  • Communicate with colleagues about books
  • Edit
  • Marketing, presale, sale meetings
  • E-mail, phone calls

This senior editor probably does not read many manuscripts that have not been vetted by other editors in the house, or by an agent.


Editor 3: An yet another view:

  • Meetings
  • Interruptions
  • Trying to read manuscript
  • Lunch at desk
  • E-mails
  • Phone calls
  • Brainstorming
  • Take the above and remix

I’ve heard many editors say they do the reading of submissions away from the office. That might include on the train ride home, evenings, and over the weekend. So, they often read manuscripts in their “free” time.
Further Editor Info from a Q&A
How do you balance lists?
– We pick books we will love in 3-6 years
How do editors determine marketing budget for an individual book?
– Make a wish list for each book, balance with colleagues
– Every season there’s a book that is a sleeper – it rises to the top unsuspected
How do bidding auctions work?
– The editor gets a call – this is going to be big and why (credentials)
– Reads it (may not even be that great a book but upper management wants them to look at it)
– Come up with marketing plan, proposal
– Date is set for auction
– Call on date and give bid
– Oh, but we already have that bid, relook and rebid perhaps
– Phone tag
– Next day – are you in or not?
What do editors discuss at an editorial meeting?
– Great voice
– Ability for writer to keep interest – some foreshadowing
– Is this story something new – a fresh perspective – honest look
– Fully realized characters – subtle quirks and nuances so readers can develop a relationship with character
– What’s the best way to get this book out there – whether hardback or paperback
– Platform – quotes from other writers, etc. – not the writer’s worry

The above info collected from a variety of editors.

What can we control? Our writing. And hope someday to be a part of an editor’s day.


Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process

Keeping Track

notebook.jpgDo you ever have trouble keeping track of your submissions? Or wonder how to maintain an organized set of records? I’ve had problems, too. (Especially when I’ve had 30 plus submissions out at a time!)
Or are you a beginning writer wondering what records you should keep? To begin with you might not need all the following, but keeping accurate records now avoids a big job later.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:
First, when I submit a piece I update my records before sealing the envelope or hitting send on the email. This way I don’t forget to enter the information and am less likely to make mistakes. I also have four ways submission data is recorded:
• by manuscript
• current submissions
• financial, and
• by market.
Each story or article has its own record. I prefer to do it on individual 3×5 cards, but obviously it could be done in a spread sheet or database. The information I enter here is basic: date and where I’ve sent the piece, what the expected report time is, what response I received and when I received the response. Other useful information is noted on the card as well. See below.
Title of Story
Date Sent to: Reports: Received: Date:
1/5/04 ABC Magazine 4-6 weeks personal rejection 2/28/04
3/1/04 Magazine DEF 2 months standard rejection 5/15/04
5/20/04 G’s Magazine 8-10 weeks — —
9/2/04 inquiry letter sent re: status (SASP included) note: didn’t receive – please resend 10/1/04
10/6/04 resent manuscript encouraging rejection 12/1/04
12/6/04 Magazine of HJ 12 weeks $125.00 3/13/05
SOLD all rights, will appear in the November ’05 issue
With this system it takes seconds for me to see how many times a manuscript has been out and what type of response it has had. I staple the 3×5 card or cards to a manila folder which holds a copy of the story or article and any research information, correspondence, photo releases, etc. These manila folders are filed in a drawer in alphabetical order. If I need to write to the editor regarding the status of the manuscript, I add a paper clip to the folder tab so at a glance I can locate pieces in that stage.
I also have a computer record of all manuscripts currently “out.” On the left are magazine/publisher names. Next I show what I’ve sent to each one. Besides a specific story title, the column could indicate a query letter about a proposed article, or a request for a sample copy, guidelines and theme list. The right columns are for “response time” and the expected response date based on when I sent the manuscript. It might also include a note that the manuscript is being “held for possible future use.” I use a symbol to show I’ve sent an inquiry letter (>) regarding status of the manuscript.
I also use symbols to indicate type of markets, i.e. religious (+), and to differentiate between magazine (*) and book publishers. Recently I’ve added color coding. Magazines for teens are highlighted in one color, middle grade another, etc.
A blank in the “manuscript” column indicates this publisher is “available” for me to submit something else. Though I might also put a note in italics reminding me that this house or magazine only takes queries.
In the same file I keep a list of pieces not sent out. Some may just be waiting for a specific market to open. Others may be marked “revise.” A word processor table is handy for keeping these records, though again it could be done in a database, spread sheet or on paper. Again, here’s what I keep:
MARKET
MANUSCRIPT or CORRESPONDENCE
When the market REPORTS
EXPECTED RESPONSE DATE
For example:
H , Inc. Granny and the Pet Warfare 1 month 4/10/05
checkbooksOf course, financial records of submissions are necessary, too. How much postage did it cost me to send that manuscript? Did I enclose an SASE for their “reply only” or an SASE for return of the complete submission? Paper and envelope costs, phone calls, mileage to writers’ meetings or speaking engagements, etc. are also recorded. I use a spreadsheet in Excel.
Besides the day to day account of money spent or money received, I also have a summary page broken down by month. I use a spreadsheet, which makes totals by month or by year very easy. But even if you record this information in a notebook, I suggest you total each month when it’s over, so tax time will be easier.
Here are my headings: Date, Expense Item (what it was), Publisher/Magazine, Manuscript, Miles, Car Expense, Postage, Supplies, Bank Fees, Utilities, Trip Expenses, Other. I also will include how I paid, i.e. check number, cash, debit. Of course, I keep copies of receipts in a file labeled Writing Expenses and the year.
In addition, I keep a record of each magazine or publisher. I have two separate files: one for magazine submissions and one for book submissions. I note what I’ve sent and when. This makes it easy to see what type of submissions I have been mailing to a particular market and how often those mailings have gone out. It can eliminate my accidentally resending something to an editor. It also shows me if a market frequently doesn’t respond. Here, I also note sales or other pertinent information, such as name changes or unsolicited manuscript moratoriums.
Magazines
P___ Magazine
Stick ‘Em Up – 1/04 – sent inquiry letter re: status 5/04 – no response 8/04
R_______
Born in the Wrong Family – 2/03 – suspended publication
S___ L___ (formerly H_______)
sent for new sample copy and new guidelines – 11/04
Jesus Boy – 1/05
T_____ P_____
A Good Example Gone Bad – 4/03 – SOLD, will appear in sister publication F__W__
The Reluctant Helper – 11/03 – SOLD one-time rights 3/04
Space Case Luke – 8/04 – sent inquiry letter re: status 12/04
A Horse for Hallie – 3/05
U___________
sent for sample copy, guidelines and theme list/editorial calendar – 10/04
Whether you use my methods or some other, keeping accurate up-to-date records has a variety of benefits. It makes submitting easier; it’s encouraging to see how many pieces are “out;” it helps you be aware of lagging responses; and, it’s useful at tax time. But what I consider most important–an organized method induces me to get those submissions done and get back to writing.