2.7.14

Ask the Acquisitions Editor #IWSG

Holy stromboli, it's already time for the July meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. During the May meeting I took questions from a bunch of you that I passed along to CK Wagner, an acquisitions editor at Omnific Publishing. Sometimes the not knowing fuels insecurity more than anything else, and CK's marvelous answers will definitely shed some light on the querying process and hopefully help alleviate a bit of anxiety.

I'm going to post her answers on Wednesdays throughout the month of July, starting with a few choice questions as part of IWSG:

Mary: Are you more likely to accept from an author you've met or a cold query?

CK: For me, story and style are king, so I’m indifferent to whether I’ve met the author or not. Existing Omnific authors, of course, have the advantage of being a known quantity—we’re familiar with them, their work ethic and cooperativeness—but even they can (and have) been rejected if the story is not what we’re looking for at the time.


Elizabeth: Do past books and online presence matter very much when submitting or does just the book you're selling at that minute matter? (Answered along with Jennifer's question)

Jennifer: How much attention do you pay to the writer's prior publication record/sales?

CK: It’s nice to see if someone already has an online presence and publication history, but truthfully, that doesn’t make or break our decision. I’ve rejected writers with massive followings simply because their queries were all over the place or their writing left something to be desired. Social media and sales numbers don’t necessarily equate to a high quality of work. We also love to launch the writing careers of debut authors, so not having previously published work is not an automatic strike against anyone. And in the case of those first-time authors, it’s understandable that they might not have a robust online presence yet—but they’ll be expected to develop it on being contracted.


Stephanie: What is the craziest query you've ever received?

CK: It’s probably a toss-up between the 20+ page synopsis (that had story excerpts and dialogue and everything) and one that read like five different stories/genres in one—it went from contemporary rom-com to something almost Jane Austen, and then a ghost showed up in the middle of it (but only for the one scene, it seemed), and then the whole thing kind of shifted to international action/adventure. I’m pretty sure there was some other random twist in there, too, but I can’t remember it now.

No offense to either of those authors; in both cases, I think they just lost sight of what they wanted for the story and tried to cram in too many ideas that weren’t ultimately in its best interest. One thing to remember is that you can always save an idea for another story! Killing your darlings in one manuscript doesn’t mean they can’t find new life in another.


Jennifer: What's the weirdest place you've read a manuscript? 

CK: A cemetery!

Please come back for more of CK's wisdom throughout the month.
Here's the schedule:

Thank you so much, CK, for taking the time to answer all these questions!

20 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Twenty pages? That's a long synopsis.

Jennifer Lane said...

A ghost showed up in the middle of it, hehe. (Was that the same manuscript you read at a cemetery?) Thank you, CK, for the insight into your world.

Great to see Vibrizzio on your sidebar!

Juneta Key said...

The story behind reading the manuscript in a cementery sounds interesting. It tickles the mind with fodder for stories

Juneta at Writer's Gambit

Elsie Amata said...

These were fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing her answers with us. I love her tid bit about a ghost showing up randomly. Funny!

Elsie

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know I didn't have an online presence until I signed the contract for my first book.

Carrie-Anne said...

I spent a lovely afternoon a year or so ago reading a book in a cemetery, by the oldest grave I know of there (late 18th century). It's a very peaceful, beautiful place.

Julie Flanders said...

Thanks so much for sharing these, Nicki. Looking forward to more with the rest of your July posts.

Loni Townsend said...

I think the online presence is the one I hear the most concern about in my critique group. It's nice to hear that it doesn't make or break the deal.

Loni

Megan Lee said...

Thank you so much for posting this! This was helpful. I really appreciated the honest, detailed answers.

M Pax said...

It's good to know what goes on in acquisitions. My fear of zombies would keep me from spending much time in a cemetery. Bet it was quiet, though.

cleemckenzie said...

It still must come down to the work and if it resonates with the agent or the publisher. All the rest is extra.

Cherie Colyer said...

20-pages, oh my! That is long. Thanks CK for your insight, and Nicki for sharing them with us. I'll be back next week for the Do's & Don'ts.

L.G. Smith said...

Thanks for that. It definitely helps with the insecurity if you are well-informed. Look forward to more Q & A.

Jennifer Hawes said...

Great Q & A session!

Donna Hole said...

That was entertaining. Thanks for sharing.

Lady Lilith said...

Twenty pages is more of a complete kids book then a synopsis.

The Armchair Squid said...

Reading a manuscript in a cemetery is like a story all its own.

Misha Gericke said...

Always good to see things from an editor's point of view. :-)

J.L. Campbell said...

Useful information for us writers. Nicki, thanks for visiting me on the blog blitz.

Lady Lilith said...

I like how Mary judges based on the manuscript not the person. I know many people who wold let a friend pass first.