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.