We will probably have more than one blog post on this. I am delighted to go first.
I attended a breakout session at SCBWI with Ruben Pfeffer, an agent at EastWest Literary.
Rubin has had a storied career in publishing. He started as a designer with MacMillan Publishing, and then spent twenty seven years at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich where he eventually became President of the Trade Division. He served as SVP and Publisher for Simon and Schuster Books. Divisions reporting to him included S&S Books for Young Readers, Atheneum, McElderry Books, and Aladdin Paperbacks. In 2008 he launched Allyn Johnston’s imprint at Simon and Schuster, Beach Lane Books.
In 2009 Ruben became a partner at East West Literary Agency. Rubin’s breakout session was entitled The Symbiotic Relationship Between Agent And Client: Straight Talk About Mutual Success.
(Sorry folks. Could not resist the Jay Asher tribute. )
Since Ruben has worked both ends of the business, I am sure this is a good list.
1. The Editor didn’t connect on an emotional level with the book. (If you have to sell it to the publisher, the marketing team and your fellow editors and then spend two years with the manuscript nursing it through the process, you have to love it.)
2. The Editor doesn’t feel it will sell in today’s market.
3. Voice: The voice either didn’t feel right, or, it felt too familiar.
4. Lack of Platform (I wish I had taken better notes on this one. I think it means the author doesn’t have a social presence in the media. )
5. The Editor doesn’t like the subject matter.
6. The Editor tried that kind of book before and didn’t feel it worked.
7. The Editor already has a similar book on his list.
8. The Editor didn’t like the format. Be sure you have formatted correctly. No typos or grammatical errors.
9. You are writing in a crowded space. (i.e., right now, there are a LOT of paranormal stories. The Editor may not feel there is room for another.)
10. The Editor doesn’t feel your story is for children.
11. Library Funding is down. (I love this one.)
12. Barnes and Noble is not carrying this kind of book
13. The Editor doesn’t feel your book is special enough.
The next slide Ruben showed was a rejection letter from an unnamed house listing the reasons they didn’t want a book he was offering them. (The rejection listed a few of the reasons above including not special enough)
The following slide was a letter from another unnamed publisher who raved over that same book. That editor felt it was perfect.
Keep submitting. Everyone will not love your work. You need to find the right home. Dr. Seuss had 32 rejections before he found a home for his first book. Jack London had 608 rejections, all of which he kept.
In the end it is all so worth it. I just received my first editorial letter from Beach Lane Books and I'm over the moon.
If you get specific notes from more than one person and the notes are similar, rejoice and look seriously at them. I have another letter from an editor on my adult book listing the changes she feels should be made. She's the second person who mentioned that one of my story arcs should include more barriers. I know both of these people are right on the money. I'm busy making the changes. They will go to my critique group before they go back to her.