One of the things I enjoyed best about the Highlights Foundation workshop was that the focus was on creating, taught by creators. Sometimes focusing too much on submissions and publication can get in the way of allowing creativity to flow.
However, on the evening of our last dinner, Boyds Mills Press Executive Editor Liz Van Doren talked with us informally about the submission process.
She likened receiving a submission as an invitation to go on a date. Nobody goes on a first date hoping they’ll never want to see the person again. There’s always the hope that the first date will be enjoyable enough to go on a second date. In other words, she doesn’t look at submissions with a goal of rejection, but always with a hope of a spark – one that might lead to a match.
She’s looking for an answer to the question, “Do I want to take this manuscript out on a second date?” If so, she would then contact the author and they would begin a discussion.
Liz said she then has to decide if she loves that manuscript enough to marry it, because that is akin to the kind of commitment she needs to make to bring that book into the world. From seeing the manuscript for the first time to the book hitting the shelves, publishing a book takes three to five years. In that span of time, an editor will probably read the manuscript more than 100 times. S/he will defend that manuscript in editorial and sales meetings, and do everything in his/her power to ensure it is successful. If the love isn’t there, the book will suffer.
We as writers need to remember that just as two perfectly great people might meet and not end up marrying, so too can great manuscripts get rejected by an agent or editor who just doesn’t have “that lovin’ feeling.”
Here’s an even more important question to ask. Do YOU want to marry your manuscript? If not, it’s probably best to just “be friends” with it and move on to a manuscript that is marriage material. Because as much as an editor ultimately has to love it, the writer has to love it even more. The writer has to be so smitten and determined that s/he will go to the ends of the earth (and then some) to find that manuscript’s soul mate.
The writer’s relationship to the manuscript begins with the first draft. Add to that the number of years it takes to find its home, THEN add the 3-5 years to publication, and THEN add at least a couple of years of marketing and promotion, countless numbers of readings in various venues and the fact that you will forever be connected to that book.
So, are you ready to say, “I DO?”Categories: Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, Poetry, Publishing, Queries, Writing · Tags: Books, Boyds Mills Press, Children's Books, Editors, Highlights Foundation, Julie Hedlund, Liz Van Doren, Picture Books, Poetry, Publishing, Queries, Submissions, Writer, Writing