Insight into the author-editor relationship

By Jana Pleyto, Head of Acquisitions for Publishizer

I love editors. I really do.

In fact, not so long ago, I was in relationship with one (albeit a magazine editor) and the experience was simply magical. I’d like to look back at it through rose-tinted glasses, of the beautiful conversations about the latest news article he’s perusing or the latest book I’ve read, conversing over a nice dram of Scotch. 

But I digress. As much as I want to talk about the pros of dating that editor, I wanted to talk about the author or literary agency – editor relationship, because it is akin to modern dating. There are rules, there are trials and errors, and when the going gets tough, all is not lost. 

So here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

Dating Tip #1: Really Get to Know Each Other

During my formative years in a literary agency, one of the pet peeves I often heard from my colleagues were authors not doing their research. We’d get queried for screenplays, even if we don’t represent screenwriters.  Or we’d get query letters for poetry or novellas, even though we’ve specified that we do not represent such work. We love the authors that really do their research and personalize their letters to us, the ones who say they’ve read the latest work by one of the authors that we represent. We love the ones who * gasp * address us with the right salutation / name, and not be a part of some BCC ‘Dear Agent’ query chain.

The same goes with knowing editors, imprints, and what they publish. As Publishizer’s Head of Acquisitions, I reach out daily to acquisition editors and publishers when I think a manuscript or a proposal has potential. I forge strong relationships with industry contacts and I really dig deep to find out what they want for their lists. Acquisition editors often have a list on what interests them or what they acquire, the same way literary agents do. But sometimes hearing it from them directly or seeing them talk so passionately about the topics they love publishing makes a difference. 

Dating Tip #2: Patience

Slow and steady wins the race. 

The querying process is a lengthy one, and unfortunately authors don’t realize that literary agents have a pile of manuscripts to read and decide on. Querying editors is the same gist. 

There’s the actual reading of the manuscript or proposal, the sharing with editorial colleagues, the reporting, the re-reading, the meetings with other interdepartmental colleagues. There’s the endless discussions about its marketability, the author’s platform, whether it’s on trend or not, the covfefe of it all. Weekly meetings after biweekly meetings, coffee after coffee, figuring out whether it’ll fit the publisher’s current list and backlist.

Through it all, we wait patiently with baited breath. ‘Choose it and swipe right’, we chant in our heads.

Dating Tip #2: Develop Thick Skin   

I’d like to think I earned my stripes going through the slush pile and evaluating manuscripts. I’ve read full manuscripts that’s taken an author months, years, even decades to complete.  It always pains me to write that inevitable email or report, the one that concludes why this book, this author’s baby, is simply unpublishable due to a number of reasons.

I’ve also learnt to develop thick skin from the receiving end. With my Publishizer authors, I adopt this author’s baby, (I’d like to think of myself as Auntie Mame) and so it pains me too when I get that email from an editor.

But persist we must, soldiering on with a smile on our faces with the next editor to call.

Dating Tip #4: If it doesn't work out, there are other alternatives 

There are a variety of alternatives to traditional publishing these days, from self-publishing, to services like Publishizer. Our unique platform gets an author’s work in front of publishers, as an alternative to using literary agencies. 

Publishizer is a first of its kind: a crowdfunding platform that also queries publishers for authors. Our overall aim is to match authors to suitable publishers, with The Bookseller dubbing Publishizer as ‘Kickstarter meets Tinder’ for publishing, and Inc Magazine calling it ‘A revolutionary way for authors to get their books published.’ 



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