View Full Version : Ten Questions Editors Ask

01-04-2010, 06:38 AM
Courtesy of Janet Reid's Blog, here's a list of 10 questions Dutton Editors ask when evaluating a manuscript.


1. Who is the readership for this book?

2. Does this story surprise me and take me to places I didnít expect?

3. Is this a main character I care about?

4. Am I personally moved by this story or sitituation?

5. I this a theme/emotion/concern that a lot of kids will be able to relate to?

6. Has this been done a million times before?

7. Will I want to read this manuscript ten (or more) times?

8. Is the voice/character authentic and real?

9. For picture books: Would this story be visually interesteding for 32 pages? Could I esaily envision the illustrations for this?

10. For novels: Does the action of the story move at a good pace and hold our interest? Does tension build as the story moves forward?

01-04-2010, 07:52 AM
Oh, is that all they look for? Pfft, too easy!

01-04-2010, 08:10 AM
:D I feel good after reading this list.

01-04-2010, 08:31 AM
I'm a little concerned with 2, 6, 7, and 8. I wish there was a way to find out how an editor would answer those before we sent them off. :tongue

01-04-2010, 08:36 AM
I feel like 6 is more of a, will it still sell because it's been done so many times... And that really depends on how well you wrote it and if you offer a unique approach to it.

01-04-2010, 08:56 AM
Yeah, that's what I'm not sure about. I took a cliche thing (a few actually), knowing good and well they were cliche and purposely using them for it, but twisting them. I'm just not sure if the twists are interesting enough to make it stand out.

01-04-2010, 08:59 AM
Voice doesn't bother me because I'm generally good at that one. The "take me places I don't expect" is what I want to get perfect. I want to make sure my twists are actually surprises and that the "subtle" hints aren't actually neon signs attached to baseball bats.

01-04-2010, 09:14 AM
Yup, that's a hard one isn't it? I don't typically do a lot of twists, but I'd like to think I do have some unexpected stuff in there. I killed off two main characters last time and my friends have all been shocked that I did it. I wonder if that counts. Not really a twist, it just takes the story to a darker place than where it starts.

01-04-2010, 08:46 PM
I think all editors everywhere ask those same questions, and I think good books answer them all with a yes.

From my experience, number six is a the biggest killer, with numbers three and two following right behind.

Good questions to keep in mind.

01-04-2010, 11:10 PM
That was actually helpful. Thanks for posting.

01-05-2010, 12:20 PM
I'm good with the rest of those except....


I have no clue who the readership is. "People"?

01-05-2010, 07:29 PM
I'm good with the rest of those except....


I have no clue who the readership is. "People"?

It's helpful to know who your audience is, but this is really an editor question. Will the readership for this book be die hard SF fans, or is this the kind of book that can crossover and capture the mainstream audience?"

01-06-2010, 03:56 AM
My readership is "Anyone or anything that cannot be programmed, categorized, or easily referenced."

01-06-2010, 04:13 AM
Readership is a little rough for me. Mine's a little strange. Fortunately, the premise seems to interest a variety of people.

3. Is this a main character I care about?

4. Am I personally moved by this story or sitituation?

Those are my weaknesses, I think. The story is too bizarre to be personal, and the MC is not like a lot of people. But I do try to make you imagine it happening to you, and root for the poor girl. It's one of those Series Of Disasterous Events stories, a dark comedy.

We'll see how it goes!!

01-06-2010, 04:33 AM
... '6. Has this been done a million times before?'
Nope: only 999,999 times before. So I guess I'm good.

01-06-2010, 05:22 AM
It's very helpful, but I can't honestly think of a manuscript I'd want to read 10 more times. I don't even want to read my own manuscript 10 more times. But, then again, I don't understand the desire to watch movies more than once (aside from a couple of classics), so what do I know?