Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Publishing House Procedure

I need some insider info. My (wonderful) agent hasn't really given me any details about the situation so I hope you might be able to.

Last year we went on submission. We came close once with a revise and resubmit but ultimately the editor didn't make an offer. One of the editors from the first round was very slow and when my agent called to follow up, he told her I was doing an R&R. The editor asked to see the revision.

A few weeks after she got the ms, she called me and asked for some changes. They were very minor and I ended the call feeling very good about her and the work she wanted me to do. So we sent the newly revised ms back to her and then we got a note a few weeks later that she loves it. Another note a few days later said she finished it and was sending it to her editorial director.

My question is: what does this mean? Do editors usually send it to their editorial directors before they can make an offer? Is she sending it to the editorial director because she has doubts about it or because she's excited about it? How does a decision about an offer actually get made?

This is fabulous news. There's nothing else to say. Nearly everyone at a publishing house needs to get what are often called "second reads" before even considering an offer. These second reads mean they go to their colleagues to get their opinion. Unlike most agencies, no decision is made at a publishing house without the consensus of a number of people. Who these people are will depend on the house, the genre, the editor, the book, etc. Often an editor will bring the book up at what's called an editorial meeting to get the opinion of a number of editors. In this case she presents the book one week, often using your agent's pitch letter as her guide, and listens to the feedback of others at next week's meeting. Sometimes the decision makers include not just editors, but the marketing and sales team as well, and sometimes the only second read you'll need is from the head of the genre's department or the editorial director, or maybe just the editor's immediate boss.

In this case it sounds like she's hoping to get the go-ahead from the editorial director to make the offer. If the editorial director agrees that it's something they would like to add to their list, they'll discuss where the book would fit on the list and what kind of offer they will be making.

Congratulations and good luck. This is exciting news.

By the way, it sounds like you have a great agent, someone who's really active and involved, so don't be afraid to ask her these questions. That's just part of what you pay her for.



Andunien said...

Oooo, best of luck to the author! I hope they get an offer. This is good stuff to know, and not something we often think about asking.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats to this author, and thanks for sharing this, Jessica. For a lot of us who are as-yet unpublished, the whole submissions process is a bit of a mystery. The process of getting an agent seems fairly straight-forward in comparison. But since the ball is largely out of the author's court at that point, we often don't appreciate all that goes into the negotiations between the agent and publishers, and then within the publishing houses between editors, editorial boards, etc. before an offer ever comes back to the author (if one does at all).

A great question, and a helpful response.

Loree Huebner said...

Best wishes to the author!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the author! I hope everything turns out favorably.

Anonymous said...

I have a somewhat related question. I have an agent and my book was sent out to editors (who asked to see it after hearing my agent's pitch) about a month ago, before the holidays. I was wondering how long it usually take editors to read agented material. Weeks? Months? Anyone who knows, please let me know!

Eileen said...

Congrats to the author! Here's sending good wishes your way for an offer.

Anon- in my experience it can vary when waiting to hear from editors depending on their workload, books they are already editing, how excited they are by the project, their relationship with the agent etc. It can vary from a week to several months. Your agent may have an idea of turn around time from the particular editors she/he selected. Also holidays seriously mess with publishing.

Best advice- start writing another book! It gives you something to do other than stalk your email and chew fingernails.

Richard Mabry said...

Jessica, Good explanation that demystifies the process a bit. Thanks for sharing.
And congratulations to the author in question. Sounds like you're close.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Preliminary congratulations! I'd assume that showing your manuscript to anyone is a sign of confidence, because given the volume of novels submitted for consideration, it's probably far easier to just pass on anything you have doubts on. It also makes sense that editors will seek second opinions given how tight things are in the economy still.

Robena Grant said...

Great post!
Congratulations to the author. Hope it's all smooth sailing.

Karen Duvall said...

At Harlequin (my publisher) the senior editors of specific category lines can make an offer without consulting other editors or going to their boss. But proposals for the imprints like Mira and Luna must go through HQN's senior editor before it can get in front of the acquisitions committee that meets once a week. It's a very interesting and intense process. Every publisher is different.

Unknown said...

Thank you for asking this question! I would be confused as well if I was in your position.

Good luck to you as you (hopefully) get published!! :)

Jade Hart said...

That is very interesting. Always fascinating to hear about what the stages are to getting an offer.
Thanks for letting us glimpse the hidden world of agents :)

I'm a new follower, look forward to your posts ;)

Thanks Jade