Most writers these days attend conferences. It might be a writers conference, a fan convention, or a hybrid. It doesn’t matter if the writer is experienced or is new to the craft, it’s just what you do. You go to learn and to meet people. You network. Agents and editors are also at the conferences. We might be teaching workshops, taking pitches, or just hanging out with our authors. We are also networking – talking to each other and pitching projects. This is one of the pretty cool things about the crime fiction community – we are nice to each other and we tend to support each other. And we make friends, which leads me to an interesting situation…
What happens when someone I have become friends with submits a manuscript to me? That is a very good question. Several of my closest friends also write for me. Mostly those friendships blossomed after acquisitions. But what if I am legit friends with them before they submit? What if I reject the manuscript? What if I like it and I want to acquire it? Will people think I give out contracts to my friends? How do I remain impartial?
Truthfully, I don’t know. I would like to think that I remain impartial. I have rejected submissions from people a truly and genuinely like. But I still worry that my judgment might be swayed. Thankfully, we have options. Usually my first option is to ask a co-worker to read over the ms. I have a few who read a lot of mysteries and I trust. I rely heavily on those folks for historical that come in. There are times though when they don’t have time to read a ms for me. Enter the Reader Report. We don’t do it much for fiction, but we have a built in program where the acquisitions editor can send a manuscript to a reader (generally someone that is well versed in that field or genre). After they have read the ms, we ask that they give us a report on it – in this case, I am looking for confirmation on voice, plot, and if it hits the market correctly. Once the reader has returned the report, we pay them for their time.
What I like about this process is that even if no knows about it, I do. It's important to me.