Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday with an Editor


Welcome to the first installment of my Thursday with an Editor series with Kensington Publishing's Megan Records, who has graciously agreed to kick off the series with an editor's interpretation of what your cover letter/query really says.

Megan Records has a B.A. in English and a M.S in Publishing. Before Kensington, she worked at an educational publishing house. Now, she’s found a job that actually pays her to do what she was already doing in her spare time—reading romance. For reading recommendations, tips for aspiring authors, and random comments from daily life as an editor, follow her on Twitter @meganrecords.

What we REALLY think when reading your cover letter/query
We editors are masters at tempering rejections. I have at least 5 stock phrases that sound much nicer than “I was bored by this book.” But what’s really going through my head when I read queries? Take a look:

I haven’t seen anything like this in the bookstore, so I decided to write it.

I think: Yeah…there’s probably a reason you haven’t seen this premise before. Or: Yeah, you clearly haven’t been in a bookstore in the last 10 years.

I can’t wait to go on Oprah and to see my book made into a film.

I think: Good luck with that. Clearly you are super out of touch with publishing reality. And I don’t feel like being the one to burst that bubble.

I’m a published author.

I think: Why don’t you list who you are published with? *googles your name* Oh, PublishAmerica.

I’ve been published in my high school newspaper, and had several letters to the editor printed in my local paper.

I think: This doesn’t count as published.

It took me thirteen years to write this book.

I think: I need you to write at least a book a year, if not two books a year. I’m thinking that’s going to be a problem.

I’m a mother of two high-schoolers, so I know how to write YA that appeals to all teenagers.

I think: I manage to dress myself every day, but that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to be a fashion designer.

If you are not the appropriate editor for my project, please give it to the correct one and send me their contact information.

I think: Riiight. If you can’t do your own research, I’m not going to do it for you.

I’m sending this to you exclusively.

I think: Why? I haven’t asked for one. Your query process is going to take forever if you give everyone exclusives.

The main characters are based on real people.

I think: In other words, you fictionalized your own life story. I’m guessing you probably won’t be open to editorial changes regarding plot or character…

This is a women’s fiction romance mystery with vampires.

I think: I don’t know how to sell this.

This manuscript has been a finalist in 17 contests.

I think: 17? And yet no editor/agent has picked it up yet? Most likely you’re spending too much time entering contests and not enough time revising the bulk of your book.

I’m a member of RWA (or ITW, MWA).

I think: Hooray!  This author is definitely interested in writing as a career.


Terry Odell said...

Thanks for having Megan as your guest. It's nice to get a peek inside an editor's head. (Although one editor I spoke with said that some of those credentials were "meaningless" because anyone could join.) Guess it's like everything else. No "rules"!

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Megan R. Brockman said...

Terry: you're right, anyone can join. But the fact that you did join generally means that you've done some sort of research on the genre, and that you don't look at writing as a hobby. I'm not saying membership speaks to your writing skills, just your commitment.

MaureenAMiller said...

What a wonderful guest, Wynter. Megan, you must chuckle often at your desk. I give you all the credit in the world for maintaining your professionalism. :)

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks for sharing these remarks. They are good reminders for all authors on what not to say in a query letter!

Brooklyn Ann said...

Thanks for the post, Megan. I hope to join RWA when I can afford it. Still, I am in the Idaho Writer's League, so hopefully that counts for something. :)

Kristal Lee said...

Wynter, I'm excited to learn of your new editors series.

Megan, your inagural post is funny and eye-opening. One question, though. Should a query include all writer-related memberships, like the RWA specialty chapters, or is the blanket of RWA sufficient.

Shoshanna Evers said...

Thanks for the post :)

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I'm so glad I've never said any of those things in a query letter. LOL

Thanks for the post, very insightful:)

Cate Lord said...

Congratulations, Wynter, on your editor series. I'm sure it will be a hit! :) Megan, I really enjoyed your post. :)

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks, Cate!

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