Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Surprises An Editor

STATUS: I love going to conferences abut I have 246 emails in my inbox. And I was checking and responding to emails when I was away!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOME by Face

When I was at RWA in D.C. last week, I was having drinks with an editor from The Penguin Group (I think that was the house—it’s all a blur really). We were talking about passing on sample pages and I had mentioned that I had just passed on an author who already had an offer on the table.

She was really surprised and said, “I didn’t know that agents did that. I thought you’d always take the sale.”

And then I looked at her surprised (there was a lot of surprise going on in this conversation) because I just had assumed that editors knew that agents pass on projects—even with offers in hand. Even if the agent can see that the project might excite other agents and probably sell. Guess I shouldn’t assume what an editor would know or not know about the agent side of the biz.

Maybe I'm unusual. Maybe other agents wouldn’t have passed but right now, when I think about taking on authors and really pushing them in what is a tough fiction market, I’ve gotta feel the love. It could be a tough slog—even with a prior publishing record!

This offer was from a previously published author with a debut track record (so neither good or bad in that aspect). It’s not like I didn’t like the project or didn’t see the merit it. I did. It just didn’t speak to me so I could champion the author’s career.

And in this case, I don't think the author had prior representation but had worked directly with the publisher. I don't remember. She may have left the previous agent (which is a requirement for me as it makes me uncomfortable if an author is shopping new agents without leaving the old. I know it's done and I know we've debated the pros and cons on this blog about that. I'm just saying what I'm comfortable or not comfortable with.)

Of course, I’m always wondering why my favorite authors aren’t ever dissatisfied with their current agents. Grin.