Publishing 101: Acquisitions

I meant to get this out last Friday, but, alas, it didn’t happen. For those of you waiting with bated breath, here it is….(drum roll, please).

Adding on to my last post From Query to Shelf ,today I’m writing about acquisitions.

Once you’ve landed your rock-start agent, that agent will work with you to make your WIP into an amazing MS and then send your baby out into the world.

First off, in order for your MS to be bought, it must first be loved by multiple people. Not just you, your mother, your sister, your brother, and your agent, but others…namely the acquisitions editor. That’s the second hurdle. The first hurdle was landing your rock-star agent.

If the house already has a number of titles similar to yours, then no matter how awesome your MS is and no matter how much they love it, they still won’t buy it. Why? Because, they’re in the business to make money. They don’t want to compete against themselves. There is an exception to this rule, though. If you’re a heavy-hitter with a large platform (celebrity, successful author), then they’ll make an exception for you. This is why you want to make sure your work is fresh and new. Don’t follow the trend. Remember, the trend was bought 18-24 months ago. Make your own trend.

So what happens next after your agent sends your baby to different publishing houses and an editor falls in love with it?

The senior editor has to approve of the concept. Can you say, crap? Unless, of course, the publishing house is one like Bantam which, last I knew, didn’t have to go through that whole board meeting thing but an editor who liked your MS could buy it on the spot. But seeing as how most publishing houses aren’t like that, we’ll go back to the senior editor being sold on your MS’s concept.

If the senior editor says it’s a go, then there’s a board meeting where the editor who really wants the house to buy your MS has maybe two minutes to pitch your story. This is where the high concept, market placement, and word count come in. If you’re unsure of any of those things, go back to my previous post From Query to Shelf where I describe them.

During this meeting, the finance/marketing director will create a profit and loss statement. If you have a super agent who asks for a high advance, then more books will need to be sold to make up for the advance. A couple things the finance director will ask are whether or not the house already has books like this one, if the market placement is strong enough for your book, how high of an advance your agent is asking for, how much marketing is going to cost, etc. If the profit and loss statement shows a profit, then things are a go and your book is sold! If it shows a loss, then things are a no. Unfortunately this happens, a lot. I heard of one writer whose MS got to this point three times at three different houses, and each time it was a no. Sucks, doesn’t it? Again, this is why you need to make your own trend.

Next week (hopefully I’ll get the post done on time), sales conferences! This is what the houses attend to get your book in the stores.


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