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AryaT92
02-21-2010, 12:09 AM
There are so many strange versions floating around about what publishers do and don't do. I think it's time to give a sort of overview of the process.

1. Acquisitions

Acquisitions editors are in charge of finding new manuscripts/proposals for the publisher. There are a few ways your work may end up in front of an acquisitions editor:

-The slush pile. This is the term for unsolicited manuscripts. If you mail a publisher a manuscript or proposal that they haven't requested, some of them will just mail it back to you unread. Others will pile it up in their offices until a reader gets around to checking it out. This can take anywhere from days to many months.

-Request from a query. If you send an editor an e-mail or letter about your book, the editor may request sample chapters (a "partial"), the whole manuscript, or (in the case of nonfiction books) a book proposal. Now your work isn't "unsolicited" anymore-- it's solicited. Solicited work tends to get read faster than unsolicited work, but it can still be several months before you get a decision.

-Through an agent. Your agent can get your work read fast if he/she has any clout. Publishers trust agents to bring in projects that are appropriate and of high quality. Particularly if you write novels, it's to your benefit to have an agent. Real agents don't charge you anything upfront-- they take a commission from your advance and royalties (15%, usually).

-Recommendation or personal meeting. An author may recommend you to his/her editor, or you might meet the editor at a conference or workshop. This puts you into the "solicited" category.

You don't need an agent to submit to most publishers.

I have never heard of an editor just mailing someone a contract-- the editor will call you or e-mail you to tell you that he or she is interested.

At most publishing houses (except the very smallest), the editor will have to pitch the book at an editorial meeting. The editorial board (or the publisher alone) will say yes or no. The marketing people do their projections to see how much profit they think the publisher could make, and what the budget should look like. They research competing books and figure out how well they sold. They may suggest a new title. Then the editor makes an offer. You or your agent go back and forth negotiating until everyone's happy. You sign the contract and get the first part of your advance. (Advances are typically paid in 2-4 parts.)


My understanding is basically when your MS is sent with an agent it goes to the editor, if the editor likes it it moves on to the second stage which is the acquisitions meeting, after the meeting they begin talks with your agent about offers / etc. is this correct? Any more information on this process would be great!

I have been on sub since December 8th, before I found my agent I talked to this specific publisher about the book and they had read a partial which the editor commented on.

She said:


Thanks, Arya. If you get more sample material—50-100 clean pages, I’d be interested in seeing them. I like the idea for the book and the candidness of the writing, but the material is still too unpolished and not developed enough for me to consider.

I remained in contact with this editor as I continued writing and then when I told her I was agented she told me she would wait for his proposal.

My agent sent it out on Dec. 8th to the editor I had previously talked to along with the Editor-in-Chief of the company who is a friend of his.

The day they received the proposal the Editor-in-Chief responded back:


Thanks—we will be happy to consider this.

On January 17th my agent did a followup sent to both the Editor-in-chief and the editor who I had previously spoken with. The editor I previously spoke with responded with:


Thanks for checking in. I haven’t had a chance to sit down with the revised proposal and pages, but plan to by next week. It’s at the top of my submissions list after the holiday break. Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

It has been a month since then and I haven't heard anything back from them. My agent warns me that sometimes these things take forever, is anything sticking out to you veterans as a sign of rejection or anything I should be worried about?

How often do these acquisitions meetings take place? It says they take place in most publishing houses that aren't small, the one I am on some for isn't a small press.

My personal prediction is that it passed the first editor and is now moving to the acquisitions meeting which is taking awhile, does this seem likely? I believe this to be the reason because if she had read it and disliked it wouldn't she simply send a quick rejection to my agent?

How long does it usually take for them to review it or is it always different?

Thanks for the input.

Shady Lane
02-21-2010, 12:23 AM
In my experience, editors will tell your agent if your manuscript is going to acquisitions. If you haven't heard, you probably haven't gotten there.

Once you get to acquisitions, chances are very good (I'd say 90% or higher) that you get the offer. I have one friend who went to acquisitions and didn't get an offer, but, from what I can tell, this was just awful luck for her. Most of what goes to acquisitions is accepted.

But acquisitions meetings always, as far as I know, happen, because that's when the numbers get crunched. It's not enough for an editor to like a book--they need to run numbers on similar titles and such to figure out how many copies they expect you to sell, then use that to formulate an advance.

Both times I've gone to acquisitions, they told my agent and my agent told me. It was about two weeks from then to the offer.

Of course every experience is different.

AryaT92
02-21-2010, 12:25 AM
Oh wow, good info thanks Hannah. How long did it take to get the notification that you are on the way to acquisitions in your case? Is my experience in terms of waiting since Dec.8th, granted it was the holidays and apparently they were on holiday until around January 20th, a unique one or is this the norm? In your personal experience what do you think is happening?

From what the editor said she was supposed to get to looking over the full ms / proposal around late January, that being about a month ago do you think it's possible she forgot to send a rejection or is just mulling it over or what?

Is this amount of waiting a bad sign or could it be good or will I never know until I receive something back ;)

Shady Lane
02-21-2010, 12:31 AM
hmm. Break went on submission in the middle of April. My agent called mid-June and told me she thought a publisher was going to put in an offer. I'm not sure where the acquisitions meeting fell in this, but the offer itself didn't come in until the middle of July.

Invincible Summer was a little funky because it was on sub with a lot of editors, but my BREAK editor emailed me directly when she was in the middle of the manuscript and told me she was loving it, and she'd definitely be in touch with my agent once she was finished, but she just wanted to let me know how much she was liking it. (I'd just recently signed with the new agent, and I'd had a LOT of communication trouble with my previous agent, so we'd adjusted so we talked to each other directly a lot of the time, so this email wasn't really out of character for us.)

So that email came in about two weeks after we went on sub (though she had had the manuscript for longer--maybe a month longer than the other publishers.) We got two offers on that one, and they both came about a week after that. We went with my BREAK editor.

So the short answer is, two months for BREAK, 3 weeks for IS. These were both during the summer, too, when publishing typically moves slower.

AryaT92
02-21-2010, 12:40 AM
Oh so it's not that out of the ordinary for them to not tell you that you are moving to the acquisitions stage?

Did you talk to your editors a lot during your submission process or did you sometimes not hear from them for a couple of weeks?

Shady Lane
02-21-2010, 12:40 AM
And no news generally means one thing and one thing only--they haven't read it yet.

It's a "your call is very important to us" thing. Your manuscript will always be "at the top of the pile." It happens.

AryaT92
02-21-2010, 12:42 AM
That actually eases my mind. It's them reading it and not liking it that worries me.

Thanks a lot, good luck with your sub. I'll message you when I get any word on mine. :)

Shady Lane
02-21-2010, 12:44 AM
Oh so it's not that out of the ordinary for them to not tell you that you are moving to the acquisitions stage?

Did you talk to your editors a lot during your submission process or did you sometimes not hear from them for a couple of weeks?

*I* didn't talk to ANY editors except that one email from my BREAK editor, and that's because we had a previous relationship. It is NOT normal (or even really okay) for you to talk to editors when you have an agent.

And, no, in both cases I was told I was going to acquisitions.

Again, just my experience, but the process has gone like this:

1. You go on sub.

2. You wait.

3. Your agent calls out of nowhere and tells you you're going to acquisitions.

4. You talk to your agent everyday, maybe a few times a day, for the week up to the acquisitions meeting, as other editors are either passing or giving offers or just other exciting stuff is happening.

5. Finally you get that call that there's an actual offer on the table. Then more numbers, more stuff with other publishers, negotiation of rights you don't know anything about, and by the time the deal actually closes you're so burnt out that you just want to flop down on the floor and pant.

Shady Lane
02-21-2010, 12:46 AM
That actually eases my mind. It's them reading it and not liking it that worries me.

Thanks a lot, good luck with your sub. I'll message you when I get any word on mine. :)

sweet, good luck to you as well.

AryaT92
02-21-2010, 12:46 AM
I meant did your agent / editor talk a lot during the submission process? :D [I assume agents forward any contact to you as seems to be the case with me?]

AryaT92
02-21-2010, 12:48 AM
As we speak I just got an email, my agent just did another check-up on them. :hooray:

Shady Lane
02-21-2010, 12:51 AM
I meant did your agent / editor talk a lot during the submission process? :D [I assume agents forward any contact to you as seems to be the case with me?]

Yep. And my first agent was shit, so never mind her, but my 2nd and 3rd bother editors ever 3 weeks or so.

ETA: cool beans.

BrooklynLee
02-21-2010, 02:31 AM
I have no advice, because I'm in a similar situation, but I definitely empathize.

Cricket18
02-21-2010, 03:50 AM
Arya: Thanks for posting this topic! I've been wondering about this part of the process.

Shady Lane-You rock--such great info--thank you! :)

BrooklynLee
02-21-2010, 05:28 AM
Oh and the "no news is good news" thing is something my agent has said to me as well. The best thing to remember, I think, is that it's easy to say no in this business and hard to say yes.

thothguard51
02-21-2010, 05:37 AM
Arya,

Take no offense, but I am still confused by the time line here.

How long ago did this editor send you the reply about your material was still too unpolished and not developed enough for her to consider, to when you got an agent? Weeks, Months, years?

The reason I am confused here is because too unpolished and not developed to me would indicate she was politely saying you were not ready, even if she liked the premise of the story and its candidness. She has to be able to sell it to the acquisitions board. This may still be the case, or not...


The first time an editor told me this, it took two additional years to sit down part time and work out all the kinks and polish the story to a shine. And it still was not enough. Sometimes it never is and you have to move on to the next.

Your agent should know how long the submission process is. You go to Tor or Daw, and you know you are going to wait 6 months with an agent, to a year without one.

The editor that currently has one of my manuscripts, I first queried in mid Nov, they said 4-6 weeks to hear back. It took them 3 weeks. They asked for full sub and this was in early Dec. Like Shady Lane, I got an email from the editor letting me know she was just starting the read and loving it. When I emailed her back on how soon a decision could be expected, she informed me that no decisions would be made until spring, when their editorial board meets for the 2011 productions. Unsure what month that will be but I can hold out till the end of march because I have two other publishers that have asked me to resubmit in the spring.

What I wonder, is how long it took you to go from unpolished and not developed enough to getting an agent that felt secure enough in your writing to submit. This may be something to think about...

Birol
02-21-2010, 05:55 AM
It has been a month since then and I haven't heard anything back from them. My agent warns me that sometimes these things take forever, is anything sticking out to you veterans as a sign of rejection or anything I should be worried about?

Publishing moves at two speeds: Snail pace and it was due yesterday. You're in a snail pace stage. If it gets accepted, you'll move into the due yesterday stage.


My personal prediction is that it passed the first editor and is now moving to the acquisitions meeting which is taking awhile, does this seem likely? I believe this to be the reason because if she had read it and disliked it wouldn't she simply send a quick rejection to my agent?

It's not likely. What I'm hearing is the manuscript is still sitting in a pile on her desk to be read. Understand, reading and accepting/rejecting manuscripts is only a small part of what editors do. Most of her focus is on getting manuscripts that have already been accepted revised by deadline and communicating with the authors whose manuscripts are currently in the editing phase.


How long does it usually take for them to review it or is it always different?

It depends. On her workload, on deadlines, on personal stuff -- a lot of manuscripts are read at night, after the regular work is finished, after the family is in bed. Months -- and by months I mean up to 6 -- is not at all unusual.

While you're waiting, you should be working on your next project.

Toothpaste
02-21-2010, 07:21 AM
While Shady's info has been awesome and very useful, I have to say that not all experiences are the same. My agent never told me when my book was going to acquisitions, and I'm not sure, quite frankly, the editor told her.

Every editor and agent works a different way. If you are concerned (but you really shouldn't be, these things take time and you haven't been waiting that long), maybe have a chat with your agent, see if he/she is keeping something from you or can at least ease your concerns.

The problem is, there is a lot of not knowing what's going on as an author. It's really really annoying.

AryaT92
02-21-2010, 08:44 AM
Arya,

Take no offense, but I am still confused by the time line here.

How long ago did this editor send you the reply about your material was still too unpolished and not developed enough for her to consider, to when you got an agent? Weeks, Months, years?

She asked for sample material when I sent her a proposal, I sent her 17 rough pages and told her they were rough, she responded with:



Thanks, Arya. If you get more sample materialó50-100 clean pages, Iíd be interested in seeing them. I like the idea for the book and the candidness of the writing, but the material is still too unpolished and not developed enough for me to consider.


Also, "unpolished" was the term I used to describe the rough work. That was on Octobor 27th, we've been in contact after that though and the last thing she said to me before the agent came into play was:



Thanks, Arya. Iíll wait to hear from your agent. Looking forward to the official proposal. All best,


On December 4th 2009.






The reason I am confused here is because too unpolished and not developed to me would indicate she was politely saying you were not ready, even if she liked the premise of the story and its candidness. She has to be able to sell it to the acquisitions board. This may still be the case, or not...

I thought about this but because of the agent offers [and the clout of these agents] that give some sort of validation towards the manuscript I felt pretty confident she just couldn't decide off 17 pages rather than the 17 weren't good enough. She did ask for more when I had it.


The first time an editor told me this, it took two additional years to sit down part time and work out all the kinks and polish the story to a shine. And it still was not enough. Sometimes it never is and you have to move on to the next.

Your agent should know how long the submission process is. You go to Tor or Daw, and you know you are going to wait 6 months with an agent, to a year without one.

The editor that currently has one of my manuscripts, I first queried in mid Nov, they said 4-6 weeks to hear back. It took them 3 weeks. They asked for full sub and this was in early Dec. Like Shady Lane, I got an email from the editor letting me know she was just starting the read and loving it. When I emailed her back on how soon a decision could be expected, she informed me that no decisions would be made until spring, when their editorial board meets for the 2011 productions. Unsure what month that will be but I can hold out till the end of march because I have two other publishers that have asked me to resubmit in the spring.


What I wonder, is how long it took you to go from unpolished and not developed enough to getting an agent that felt secure enough in your writing to submit. This may be something to think about...

It didn't take long from unpolished and not developed enough to getting agent offers. I wrote the book / found agents within a month, however, it has changed a lot from the original rough 17 pages I had sent her. Those were unedited pages and she still seemed to reactive pretty positively in my opinion.


Thanks for the info everyone!

ChaosTitan
02-21-2010, 07:27 PM
Adding a little to what Toothpaste said, I was never told my book went to acquisitions meetings. I was told when it was pitched to editors, I was told about the first few rejections, then I was told about the offers. Then again, the response time on my manuscript was on the unusually fast side of things.

Hang tight. As Birol said, you're in the snail's pace end of things. Editors have tons of other things on their desk that take precedence over a new submission (and I'm right there with you on a new project). As long as your agent stays in contact and gets updates, you just have to be patient and positive.

Jamesaritchie
02-21-2010, 10:24 PM
My experience is only slightly different than Shady Lane's. I've always talked to the editors who have bought novels.

In my case, it's probably be because I prefer no middle man when talking about the book itself, from teh stage of "We want to make an offer," to what needs to be changed, whether there will be a next book, etc. Too much gets lost in translation, and the agent can't answer any of these questions, anway.

I always tell my agent to have the editor call me when they have an offer, or questions, etc., and they always have. They also seem to greatly prefer this approach. It's much faster, and always far more accurate than passing every question through an agent.

Memnon624
02-23-2010, 07:50 AM
And just to throw another perspective out there: mine never went to acquisitions. The editor I'd been dealing with had carte blanche from the publisher to acquire whatever he felt like. The initial deal was done by phone, where I asked if he could recommend me a good agent. He did, and they re-hashed out the deal. It was *extremely* quick, maybe a week or less.

And I talk to my editor as much as I talk to my agent . . .

It really is a "your mileage may vary" game.

Scott

Emily Winslow
02-23-2010, 02:55 PM
And just to throw another perspective out there: mine never went to acquisitions. The editor I'd been dealing with had carte blanche from the publisher to acquire whatever he felt like.

That was my experience as well. After reading my ms, the editor asked my agent to arrange a phone call with me; we spoke in late morning; she made an offer a couple hours later; the contract points were hashed out with my agent all afternoon and the deal done before I went to bed.

Irysangel
02-23-2010, 06:40 PM
Annnd just to throw another monkeywrench into the works...I was told I was going to acquisitions, and it took a month. Then, they passed it around for 2nd reads (which took a few more weeks) before deciding to offer.

Every house does it way different. :)

Tasmin21
02-23-2010, 07:24 PM
Piping up with my own experience...

I knew when my agent sent DD out on sub, and then didn't hear another word until 6 weeks later when I had an offer in hand. So I never knew about any aquisitions, or readers, or... Shoot, I don't even know which editors looked at it, besides the one that purchased it. *shrug*

eqb
02-24-2010, 04:56 AM
Every house does it way different. :)

Oh yes.

Tor doesn't have acquisition meetings. Acquiring editors get approval to make an offer directly from Tom Doherty. My first sale to them took two months from submission to offer. My most recent one took six days.

cwfgal
02-24-2010, 09:30 PM
I've dealt with two different publishers and agents and I've never been told any of my mss were going to acquisitions, so I don't know if they did. I just got a call from my agent when there were offers on the table. The time frame for me has always been 4 - 6 weeks from the time my agent began submitting to when we had offers to consider. I have talked directly with my editors every time regarding any writing issues and left all the contract stuff to be dealt with by my agent. As someone else said, I have/had as much if not more contact with my current/past editors as I do/did with my agents.

Beth

OL
02-25-2010, 12:53 AM
I can also say that going to acquisitions is not a guaranteed sale. How do I know this? Well, I just do.

Claudia Gray
02-25-2010, 02:50 AM
I actually was told when I went to acquisition on my first book, but we had an unusually long and transparent acquisition process. On my second and third contracts, I heard nothing until the final offer.