As an acquiring editor, I am like any other reader - I often fall in love with the books I read. Ok, sometimes it's just serious like and not love, but that is ok because it still works. For me to pursue a book deal, I have to feel some passion about the manuscript, otherwise I don’t give it the full attention it deserves.
Today I have two manuscripts sitting on my desk that I love. The problem – I don’t know how to market them. The first project involves some fantasy elements, and isn’t a strong mystery, but I am pretty confident that can be enhanced. The other involves a strong sci-fi element.
My dilemma is much like what Josh talked about earlier this week. It’s not a question of the market being saturated, or a trend ending – it’s all about will the book sell? For Josh, can he sell it to a publisher, and for the publisher, can we sell it to the consumer. I do much of what Josh does - I research the market, looking for comparable titles. We want something unique and original, yet it can’t be too different! The sales department wants to be able to say –“if you love (insert big name author or book here), then you need to read (insert name of debut author and title here).” Or, “this book by (author) is if (big name author) and (another big name author) had a love child.” Even Library Journal and Publishers Weekly will say “this book is for fans of (big name author).”
A few times I have had to pass on a book that I loved because I couldn’t confidently find the market. Or it was a bit too far outside our wheelhouse. To me, that is quite upsetting, because I do love the stories I publish. Yet at the end of the day, publishing is a business, and I have to bring in books I love, but also have the potential for commercial success.
As for the two manuscripts on my desk right now, I am pretty sure I will pursue both. I have more research to do, but my gut feeling is that both could do very well. Now, if I can just get through nine more launch meetings and sales conference before Oct. 28th! (I bet you all are clamoring for my job right now.)
Have a great week y’all! I hope you all open a book this week and you fall head over heels in love with it.