I like your manuscript. Now what? An Editor’s Journey

Claudia Gabel, a development editor with Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint with Harper Collins), enlightened us on the process of what happens once an editor likes your manuscript. (For Harper Collins Overview see here.)

As writers it is a daunting task to find an agent, who hopefully loves your work as much as you.  But finding an agent is only the beginning of our journey.  Now new Shiny Agent must work their magic with their arsenal of editors in their pocket and find one who shares that same love for your MS.  Lots of love going around here people. 

Glittery Editor (not the vampire kind though I’m sure the edits will suck the life out of you) says “Yes, you are as brilliant as you have always thought of yourself my writer friend, let me run the gauntlet for you and see what happens.” 

Step 1.  Glittery Editor has a weekly “pitch” meeting and gets your MS put on the agenda.

Step 2.  The next week Glittery Editor gets a 3-4 minute pitch to an Editorial Board Meeting (made up of editors and directors for the imprints) with a room full of other editors who are doing the exact same for their manuscripts they love.  If the editorial board like what she has to say she gets a few extra minutes to read from your MS and they either A. veto it and move on. Process Ends Or B. stamp their approval. Continue to Step 3.

Step 3A.  Glittery Editor gives Shiny Agent a call and says “Hey, we are moving forward to the Acquisitions Board Meeting.” 

Step 3B.  Editors may ask agent/writer to make revision(s) to the manuscript.  If you agree great but you should know what is expected and when they expect it back.
                What is the typical turnaround time expected by editor? 4 months
                NOTE: DO NOT turn around edits too quickly because that could be a
                bad sign to the editor that you did not really digest their requests.

Let me deviate from my steps for a moment to talk about the types of editing requests you might receive (either during this process or even after you have received a contract.)

Conceptual Editing – comes as overall arcing comments that pertain to your characters voice, tone of book, plot lines, etc.

Line Edits – are comments written directly in the manuscript, highlighting anything from grammatical to voice, plot, etc.

I can see where both would be helpful and difficult.  Conceptual would guide you in a direction and give you the freedom of creativity but the vagueness could keep you guessing.  Line edits, as specific as they may be you lose the artistic freedom.

Step 4. Glittery Editor gets a 3-4 minute pitch to the Acquisitions Board (hence their name, their job is to acquire new talent) Acquisitions Board Meeting consists of publishing and marketing editors (lots of different types of editors for various steps of the process.)At that point they say “No, doesn’t sell well.” Process Ends.  Or “Yes, we’re excited. Go sign them.” Continue to Step 5.

Step 5.  Shiny Agent, Happy Writer and Glittery Publishing Editor make an agreement.

Step 6.  That acquisition is reported to Publishers Weekly. The End. (Well the end getting a contract, now the real work starts.)

And that my dear friends, is the journey an editor must take when they like your piece.  As you can see the process of getting published only begins once you have Shiny Agent but if you get the right Glittery Editor to go to bat for you, you could have a Sparkling New Book on the shelves in a year or two.  Sorry for all the bling but isn’t that how we picture it as writers, all glitz and glam.  Yeah, we’re delusional.   I hope this helps you understand the process a little more and gives you a little more patience through it.

Stay tuned for more “What I learned at SCBWI.”