Tag s | Editors

Four Myths About Editors

Since even the most prolific authors’ experience with editors may be limited to one or two, editors can seem mythical. Let’s unwrap a few assumptions:

1)  Editors don’t have to worry about the market. Agents advise writers to consider the market when writing. This is because editors do have to worry about the market and must make their acquiring decisions at least partially with the market in mind. Yes, they desire amazing writing, a sweet author, and clean copy. But they have to please the president of the company and, most important, shepherd a book that will ultimately be purchased by many readers.

2)  Editors have all the power. Editors are powerful, no question about it. They can dash the dreams of a writer with a “no” just like that. But when editors do like a manuscript enough to take it further up the chain, they must justify why your book is the right book to be published by their house at that time. Then the committee (or maybe even two different committees at separate meetings) must agree. The process helps the author, because it means the team is behind you. It’s not just you and the editor against everyone else. Your book is supported.

3)  Editors who like me and my work won’t ask for many revisions. You may not be asked to revise much, but don’t count on it. An editor asking for revisions, and even rewrites, still likes you and your work. It’s just that the editor strives to make your work the best it can be to be published for the reading public. The editor is on your side. Always remember that.

4)  I only have one shot with an editor. That’s generally not the case. Authors can improve on craft, story, and platform, and have another shot with an editor. You’ll be able to discern from the type of decline letters you receive. Here’s where your agent can be your guide.

Your turn:

How many times have you approached the same editor?

How has rejection encouraged you to improve your craft?

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Brainstorming: How and With Whom?

Brainstorming is one of the fun parts in the development of a book. The key for the author is a willingness to hear other ideas. The second, and most critical key, is discovering those with whom you should brainstorm. Those people need to be willing to have their ideas rejected in the discussions and be willing to let an idea they created to be used by someone else. It takes a special person…many times a professional…to achieve that.

I’ve heard complaints from some authors who try this in a critique group only to be frustrated. Egos get in the way or the ideas generated are singularly unhelpful. Or the discussion doesn’t move the project forward, instead it gets sidetracked by numerous differing opinions on the direction of the piece.

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Promotion: Faithful or Self-full?

“What’s the difference between promotion and self-promotion? How do we promote ourselves/our books so that we honor God, respect others, and use common sense?”

The constant tension between marketing and ministry has plagued the Christian author, speaker, bookseller and publisher forever. Why? Because Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Because we are commanded to die to self and to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord….

And yet, our society…our culture insists, even demands, that we market and promote our message.

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The Curse of the Writer

Speaking from an agent’s perspective…
I have more conversations with clients about their feelings of anxiety, apprehension or insecurity than almost any other topic. Almost every writer I have ever worked with as an editor or an agent severely doubts themselves at some point in the process.

Doubts occur in the midst of creation.
Doubts occur when the disappointing royalty statement arrives.
Doubts occur … just because…

It is the curse of the writer. Writing is an introspective process done in a cave…alone. It is natural to have the demons of insecurity whisper their lies. And, in a cave, the whispers echo and build into a cacophony of irrepressible noise.

Once I had an author with dozens of titles in print and over three million books sold turn to me and say with a somber voice, “Do I have anything left to say? Does anyone care?” I didn’t quite know how to reply so tentatively said, “Well, I like it!” The author responded with a grump, “But you are paid to like it.” After we laughed, we agreed that this lack of confidence would pass and ultimately was very normal.

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Writers Learn to Wait

Ours is a process industry. Good publishing takes time. Unfortunately time is another word for “waiting.” No one really likes to wait for anything. Our instant society (everything from Twitter to a drive-thru burger) is training us to want things to happen faster. Awhile ago I wrote about how long it takes to get published which gave an honest appraisal of the time involved. Below are some of the things for which a writer must learn to wait.

Waiting for the Agent

We try our best to reply to submissions within 6-8 weeks and are relatively good about that. But if your project passes the first review stage and we are now reviewing your entire manuscript remember that reading a full manuscript is much more demanding than reading a few short proposals.

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It Takes a Committee

One well-known and frustrating fact about seeing a book finally accepted is the looooooong process. Trust me, literary agents would like to see the process move faster, too. Believe it or not, the fact that at most large publishers, a proposal must go through several rounds of review before a …

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Why Not Take a Chance?


Often I receive queries and proposals in which the author will say his submission is out of the box. I’m not opposed to groundbreaking work, but I have to decide what will and what won’t work for me. I am the first to admit, this process is subjective. Our own Steve Laube is routinely teased by a couple of his successful author friends he turned down. If an agent as wise as Steve Laube misses a call, everyone does. But here are a few questions I’ll answer to show why it’s not easy to sell an out-of-the-box work:

Is the economy making you more selective? It’s not helping, but in any economic environment, we agents must choose the best of the best and most marketable submissions.

But you and the editors are all friends. Why not take a chance even on work you’re not sure about? I do take the occasional chance on out-of-the-box submissions that are so stellar I’m awestruck, but I’m not often awestruck. I must be mindful that I am putting my name and The Steve Laube Agency name on every submission I send. In addition, the submissions I get behind must compete with other submissions that have been vetted by other professional agents. I would venture that the quality of agented submissions is outstanding. So getting me on board is hard, but getting the publisher on board is harder.

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Attract Attention…(Part Four)

So we’ve considered three of the four BPs of attracting the attention of an agent or editor. BP number one was “Be Professional.” Number two was “Be Passionate.” The third BP was “Be Plugged In.  I’ve loved the discussion for each one, and look forward to reading what you think of this last BP. Especially since I think this is the hardest one for us. We writers are so focused on learning and growing, on doing what we’ve learned to do as we study the craft and market. We’re designed for doing. But this last BP is a reminder that sometimes, the only—and best–thing we can do, is…

BP#4: Be Patient

We know it’s hard on you, and we understand if you get frustrated. But the reality in today’s publishing climate is that things can take longer than ever before. Yes, we know how important timely responses are. But with all the shifts in the market, our focus has to rest more and more on those clients and authors we already have contracted. Which means reviewing proposals has had to take a backseat. We dislike that too, especially when we’ve got a huge backlog. And we’re doing all we can to get to the proposals and respond. But you can probably expect a few months minimum for evaluation from agents or editors (sometimes longer for editors). Even if you have a connection with the agent or editor, it may take that long for your editor to get to it. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you or your work. It just means we’re doing what we have to as things continue to shift.

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Attract Attention (Part Two)

Wasn’t it fun to read Steve’s observations about ICRS? There is so much going on this time of year in our industry, and so many opportunities to spend time with other writers, with editors, and with agents. I love networking with these wonderful folks. But even more than that, I love seeing writers have meaningful and positive interactions with editors and agents.

With that in mind, here’s the second set of BPs for Happy Editor and Agents:

#2: Be Passionate!

About your message: Let your passion for your message show—and let it make you the go-to person for your audience. When folks out there think of your topic, your face should come to mind. Learn what you need to learn, and use social media to share that knowledge with others. Become known for expertise in whatever area you’re writing about. Build your tribe, but do it by meeting people’s needs.
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