Sunday, March 20, 2011

What are editors/agents/publishers looking for?

Your manuscript is finished and it’s time to submit to an agent or publisher. Blogs, articles, and discussions have put you in a spin as to what exactly an agent or editor is seeking. Many have told you to make sure you offer something different, a unique voice, otherwise you’re going to end up in the slush pile followed by a rejection letter. But what is a unique voice? What is that something different they’re searching for? Ah…that’s the million dollar question Regis hasn’t asked yet. And to be honest, you should be asking these questions before or while writing, not after you’ve completed and edited the book.

Editors, those who study and know the market, can spot a quality book offering a unique slant to an otherwise similar storyline read hundreds of times. Yet a rejection letter might come your way only because the acquisitions editor for a publishing house knows that although the submitted book is amazing, it’s not one their readers would be interested in. Publishers sees what sells or doesn’t and perhaps your book was in the lower sales category so they don’t want to take a chance. This, however, might have a different end result if you are a proven writer with a high selling track record and larger following. Is this fair? Don’t ask me. The name of the game is salability and as any business, publishing houses want to make money, just like a writer.

Let’s get back on track here, however. Editors are seeking writers:

  • Who have a grasp on grammar
  • Who use words to move and bring an emotional connection between readers and fictional characters
  • Who have come up with a plot that stands apart from the other slush pile manuscripts
  • Who have crafted such a captivating beginning they can’t put the book down
  • Who have unique characters with their own distinct personalities
  • Who know how to tie up loose ends and offer a satisfying ending
  • Who maintain an even flow in every scene without headhopping or changing tenses from past to present to past to present to past to present…
  • Who have thoroughly gone over their manuscript with a critique group/partner/editor unlike others who hand in a first draft thinking it’s perfect as is

The above is what an editor/publisher/agent seeks. They want the novel that isn’t like the other one million they’ve read. Offer that to them and maybe you have a shot.

1 comment:

J.Q. Rose said...

This spells it all out. Good information for the writer. How about timing? The pub may be looking for that certain story...horror, mystery, to build their line. Deliver what they need....