I wrote a post for the Breathe Writers Conference blog today. You can see the whole thing right here. The following paragraphs are a short excerpt. Enjoy! -AR
Every book that is traditionally published goes through some sort of Publication Board meeting, more commonly called “Pub Board.” This is the meeting in which the final yes or no is pronounced on a given project. After Pub Board meetings publishers either mail out a contract or a rejection letter.
While every pub board meeting will differ slightly from publisher to publisher, there are some generalities that will remain the same. I thought it might be helpful today to talk about who is typically at a Pub Board meeting, and what their role is in that meeting.
The Acquisitions Editor
This is the person in publishing that most authors are familiar with. She is typically the one presenting project ideas to the rest of the group (though not always). Usually the acquisitions editor will provide other members of the Pub Board with the book proposal in advance of the meeting. At the meeting she will start the discussion by re-capping the high points of the proposal and hopefully make a compelling case to publish the book.
Depending on the company, she might have 15 minutes or more to present the book. In this case she might make a Power Point presentation, show a video of the author posted on YouTube, or use some other relevant piece. Or, she may only have 2 minutes to make her case verbally. It all depends on the publisher, the size of the project, and the number of items on the meeting’s agenda. Either way, she is the author’s advocate before the group.
Read the whole article here.
The Art of Spiritual Writing by Vinita Hampton Wright is a manual for writers attempting to write about the spiritual life. In the introduction Wright says, “For more than two decades I have advised writers and edited their work for the spirituality market. Now I have tried to distill the best of what I know for those writers who hope to serve people’s spiritual needs.” The best of what Wright knows has proven to be exceptional.
There are many reasons why I would recommend this book to writers engaging in spiritual writing. Here are a quick few.
(1) The book is concise. As an avid reader and writer, brevity is important to me. I love a good long work of classic literature like everyone else. But I don’t enjoy getting bogged down in laborious modern non-fiction. I would rather spend my time writing, or reading compelling fiction. This book was a quick, empowering, practical – yet thoughtful – read.
Author queries make me nervous. I’m afraid of offending an author and derailing a project. As an editor, I want to communicate with the heart of a servant and with the “authority” of a skilled professional.
I mean those things. I view my role as one that is chiefly concerned with serving the author. I’m there to help them present their material more clearly. I’m also involved with some level of proficiency. Authors rely on editors to “work their magic” and ensure that the work is logically arranged and grammatically sound.
The author query is an important part of this process. It is the nitty-gritty communication between editors and authors – within the text being edited, no less. Get the queries wrong and the relationship could go south. Hence, my nervousness about them.
Here’s a truth: sometimes publishers have to pass on good writing.
To the writing idealist I’m afraid statements like this are at best unwelcome, and at worst, the catalyst that convinces some to adopt the lifestyle of an angry hermit. Be that as it may, this is a true statement. I saw it happen today. And publishers shouldn’t be criticized as quickly as some (read: angry hermits) would like to. Here’s a scenario I witnessed today:
A fine book was brought to our team to consider. The writing was strong. The ideas were sound. The construction of the content was thoughtful and easily marketable.
Despite all this, the book was rejected.
Here’s why: The ideas (while sound) have been written about before. The writing (while strong) wouldn’t sell the book (insert another hard truth: good writing doesn’t sell books). The construction of the content (while thoughtful and marketable) can’t make up for a story that’s been told before.
On top of all of this, our team has already published content similar to what was proposed today.
Have you heard of this documentary? It’s about the print-to-digital change in books and reading habits. It looks promising. It features interviews with Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s CEO / creator) and major NY publishers. You can watch the trailer for it here.