Ask An Editor

March 3rd, 2008 • Kate

I’m back! And as promised, since EM was quick enough to get an email off to me before my lunch today, I asked my good pal Emma Lollipop

What’s one piece of information you wish a debut author would know before you take his or her books on?

After some careful thought, Emma Lollipop replied that she wishes all authors recognized that their publisher wants their book to do well. This may seem common sense, but I’ll admit, I’ve heard any number of authors state the erroneous belief that publishers don’t really care about their book, and are just throwing it out there, and don’t care how it does. LIE!
Publishing costs money, people, and nobody wants to waste an advance and production costs on a book that tanks. Your editor and the whole house they work for want your book to be a huge success, and they will market it as best as they can. That being said, Emma reminded me that some things, like front-of-store placement, can’t be guaranteed even if a publisher WANTS to pay for it. Remember that you’re in this business WITH your publisher, and you’re both working to achieve the same ends.
Now, because I am an energetic duck (and I don’t have room in my suitcase for another pair of shoes, or I’d have totally been shopping), I also took coffee this afternoon with another editor. When I put EM’s question to her, Editor #2 said she wished authors understood the length of the publishing process from the get-go, and that moving a book from Fall to Spring, or otherwise rescheduling it, doesn’t necessarily mean ANYTHING about the quality of the book. Scheduling is one of those things that has so many different aspects, and a book could get moved because the editor has a really full list one season, and a light list the next; because she has too many debut novels and wants to move yours to better allow it to stand out; because she’s already got three epic fantasies and doesn’t want yours to get lost; or because the book would be best released in conjunction with a holiday. Lots of reasons, none of which has anything to do with the book’s quality.
So I hope that helps.

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5 Responses to “Ask An Editor”

  1. Caryn Says:

    Ooh, good question, EM! And, Daphne, thank you for having it answered by not one but *two* editors.

  2. Joelle Anthony Says:

    Hey, those were great tidbits! Thanks for that. You know, I started life as an actor and one of the things good teachers try to stress to actors is that when they go into an audition, the casting director WANTS to cast them. They want them to blow everyone else out of the water. They want to say, "YES! Here is the actor to play Harry Potter!" they don't want to have to sit through 1000 more auditions. They want you to succeed. I think in businesses filled with rejection, people tend to think the "power people" are on some sort of trip and don't care about them. Yeah, it happens, but come on! Your publisher wants you to have a fabulous career.
    It was also good to hear about the moving of book publication dates. My friend's book was completely finished, in the can, cover and everything and a few months before its release, they postponed it a five months and then right before that date, they postponed it seven months!! That was hard to take, but they did give her a much snazzier cover. And it's out now and who knows why it happened, but it's doing well…so go figure!

  3. Trish Says:

    I will be forwarding this post to my mom, who believes my book is the most wonderful book ever written and can't understand why it won't be published NEXT WEEK, since that suits her schedule so much better than, say, next year.

  4. EM Says:

    Thanks for the input. Excellent advice and things to keep in mind!

  5. EM Says:

    Thanks for the wonderful advice. All great things to keep in mind.