Monday, October 17, 2011

Sometimes Good Writing Isn't Enough

I have to say, I hate calling writers saying their manuscript was turned down by an editor. If you hate rejections, you need to know that agents hate it just as much if not more. But there are times that the rejections really hurt.

This weekend, I got to make one of those calls.

I spoke to the editor last Friday and she unfortunately passed on the project. In this case though, the editor completely loved the work. She knew that there were some editorial tweaks she would make, but other than that, the story was good. The problem, however, came down to budget cuts. The publisher was cutting one line of books where this story would have likely been placed. Now, as she put it, the editors can no longer simply like a piece of writing, they have to be way over the top excited and the story has to be incredible. This was a bummer.

Now, while it is good to hear the editor loved the writing, and the author certainly liked hearing that, what we faced was really a clear sign of the time. This all comes down to people buying books. No, this is not a case of people only buying things digitally, it means people are just making tough decisions and books are not a mandatory item. Readers are relying on those discount books, used books and so forth to get their reading done. Unfortunatly, this becomes a domino effect. If they don't buy the books new, the publisher doesn't see the cash, and therefore it comes back to the writer.

In the past, publishers were able to really buy a lot of mediocre or simply good books and build those authors. Now, or at least for the moment, we can't just invest in something that is sort of good. I am confident though, that things will get better. For now, you have to shoot for perfection in those stories.



  1. For once being a perfectionist is a good thing! :D

  2. What a difficult conversation that must have been, and for the writer to hear. This of course raises the question of whether or not electronic sales are starting to become more favoured by readers. If this is the case, and if this contines to be a trend, what are your thoughts on agents working with writers to help them on the electronic front in the future? After all, electronic format doesn't necessarily mean substandard does it? Your opinion on this would be valuable. Thanks.