Agent 007 runs a blog where she describes her transformation from a book editor to agent and she reveals some interesting inside information about the publishing industry. In a post from last week, she describes what it is like to acquire a book as an agent versus what it is like to acquire a book as an editor. The short answer? As an agent, it took her about 72 hours to sign up a book and no one else had to get involved. As an editor, it took about a dozen people involved.
As with the entertaining Miss Snark, this is an anonymous blog so I can’t vouch for the veracity of Agent 007’s tales. But they certainly ring true with what I’ve heard. 007’s reports show the publicity director spitting some serious venom in an attempt to kill this project. And for our naive authors who think it’s only about art and literature and all that, I’ll offer Bret Lott’s Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life he describes marketing’s involvement in publishing decisions:
The most telling rejection of that book, and the one that hurt the most, came from the vice president of a major literary publishing house (I won’t say who), whose entire editorial board voted to buy the book. In her letter to me clarifying why they did not buy it, the vice president explained that when she brought the manuscript to the marketing director for his take on the book, he said, ‘This is one of the most beautifully written books I can remember reading, but the essays are about such normal people, I have no idea how we would market this.’
And so the company passed on Lott’s book, which is certainly a tale that lends credence to Agent 007’s story. I’ve got plenty of other stories that confirm 007’s comments as well. But don’t take my word for it. Check out her blog and see for yourself.