Editor Responses

Over the past year I have learned a few things about editors. Today I'm going to let you in on a secret about these mysterious beings. Why? Well, I've been sitting at my desk and wondering what kind of blog post I could write that would be helpful and somewhat unique. This seemed like something you guys might be interested in. Writers generally stay away from talking about submission on public blogs (I talked about it a little here, though). For good reason, of course, but I know that I was intensely curious about the other side of the publishing world when I was wading through the query pool. I got my hands on as much information about agents as possible, but it seemed like editors were a little more difficult to research.

So, the big secret about editors: they're nice people. I know it's hard to believe. After all, just like it is with agents, some part of your mind pictures them as higher beings, all bright lights and untouchable. Well, at least, I did. But when they respond to your submission it's usually not a form rejection. They first list what they enjoyed about the manuscript before listing the reasons for passing. It's a very human, very warm response. That pass usually looks something like this:

Dear (agent's name),

Thank you for giving me a chance to read (manuscript title) by (author).

There were many things I liked about it (hook, world, characters, etc.). That said, I found (reasons the editor can't buy the book).

I’m sorry that this didn’t work for me. The author does (lists merits of writing).


Kind Editor Who I Can't Help But Like Even Though She Passed on the Book

So, in ways, it's very similar to the responses we get from agents. It occurs to me that I'm making it sound like every e-mail is the same, but even if an editor is ultimately passing on the project, I really enjoy the feedback. Because each one is different. They're often helpful and enlightening. I find it just a little amazing that they give every manuscript that comes to them a chance. Can you imagine how much reading that is? (Pictures it and shivers with delight.) Random shout out to all agents and editors, because what they do is frankly amazing.

Maybe I shouldn't be so open about the fact that I have gotten passes on the book. Honestly, though, it happens to everyone. It's going to happen to you. I don't want to pretend that everything has been peachy and raining unicorns. There are exceptions, but success isn't something that just hits you overnight. Finding the right editor for your story is like finding the perfect man. Well, no man is perfect - fine, no woman is perfect, either - but finding the right editor is like finding your agent. Someone who's just as passionate about the story and is willing to go to bat for it. Put in hours and blood and tears. It seems impossible sometimes. The journey can be difficult. I believe in the story I've written, though, and I believe in my agent. Editors are people like you and me... looking for that next book that will entertain and astound.