The Wages of Professionalism

I wonder why I only get these eerie iridescent colors at sunrise and not at sunset? Something to do with the air being cooler? Doesn’t seem logical, but there it is.

I’m sure there’s an explanation for it and I just don’t know what it is. Some things there aren’t sound reasons for. Like a lot of publishing.

Yesterday, Angela James posted a very interesting piece to the Carina Press blog about how the acquisitions team works. And why that team rejects about 40% of what their editors recommend for acquisition. See, Carina uses freelance editors. You pitch to them, send them your work, maybe revise and resubmit. The editor can reject the stauthor history, marketability, editorial needs of book and why they did (or in some cases did not) love it. For established authors, we look up sales figures, both from Carina Press, if they’re a returning author, and via Bookscan, if they’ve published elsewhere. We discuss what we know of the author’s writing and sales history, what they’re like to work with, how popular the genre is, merits of the manuscript, how much work it will need, and how it fits into our program.ory at any point during this process, but if she decides yes, then she has to write up a report for the acquisitions team to convince them to accept the work for publication. (They also write up reports for the rejected works and Angela often tweets those reasons, which can be educational.  She recorded ones from the other day here, if you’re interested to see.)

What’s interesting about the breakdown of that 40% rejection from the acquisitions team is all the information they take into account. Among other things:

  • author history
  • marketability
  • editorial needs of book
  • sales figures, both from Carina Press, if they’re a returning author, and via Bookscan, if they’ve published elsewhere
  • author’s writing and sales history
  • what they’re like to work with
  • how popular the genre is
  • merits of the manuscript
  • how much work it will need
  • how it fits into Carina’s program

Regular readers know where I’m going with this. Yeah, it’s the piece that none of us wants to think about. We want each new story to be judged on its own merit, as its own bright and shiny individual thing. It might be, but there is a constant running through this: the author. We cannot afford to be difficult to work with.

I know, I know – you’re pointing to certain Famous Authors renowned for behaving badly. But they make TONS OF MONEY. Which excuses all most sins. Being an artist is never an excuse to be unprofessional. Not with deadlines, not with how you handle edits, not in elevator gossiping. Just never. Because we live in an age where there really *is* a permanent record. Nothing ever dies on the interwebs.

Another Carina Press editor and author, Rhonda Stapleton, posted a story on her blog the other day about how she had to reject a manuscript that she really enjoyed, because Carina is not handling that genre. She was sorry to do it – until she saw that the author in question posted snippy comments about the rejection. Which left her feeling like she’d dodged a bullet. Who wants to work with someone who’ll snark about you behind your back?

No one. And that’s who we’ll get.

4 Replies to “The Wages of Professionalism”

  1. Precisely. Anyone who’s been slogging along the great road to publication for very long will acquire Stories, with a capital S. But the smart ones will keep the negatives to themselves, especially in public. It only makes sense.

  2. Great post. Thanks. And now I’m following Angela James on Twitter. =o)

    I try to keep my mouth shut (or fingers as the case may be), but sometimes I can’t help myself. So I type long ranty blog posts, and then never actually post them. Most of them are still languishing in my unposted section, the rest were deleted. Just getting the words out was cathartic.

    1. Oooh, I like the idea of writing the ranty post and deleting. *I* would have to delete it, because I’d likely accidentally publish it someday… or ten of them at once!

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