Caroline Hogg has worked in publishing for almost ten years, at Little, Brown Book Group and more recently at Avon, HarperCollins. In February she'll be joining Pan Macmillan as Senior Commissioning Editor for Commercial Women's Fiction. She knows her stuff!
Our second question in the series comes from a Novelicious reader who asks:
What happens between an editor liking a manuscript to them making an offer? How many people have to agree?
Caroline says: It can be a long process! It starts with one editor falling head over heels for one book. Then they start their research – is there anything else like it out there already? Is there anything already like it on the list that might conflict? Does the author have a great idea for the second book? How many other editors are reading it? Is there a good slot for it on the list?
Once you’ve got your ducks in a row, you ask your editorial colleagues to take a look, to see if it’s just you or it is in fact really brilliant and really exciting. If you get more thumbs up, you’ll probably pitch it to the entire editorial team at an Editorial meeting. If the meeting is keen, you take it to an Acquisitions meeting, where you move on from your love for the writing to how you see the book doing in the current market, how you would package and position it, how many copies you think it might sell. I think of the change between these two meetings as a bit like, but not strictly limited to, ‘heart’ to ‘head’ as you need to switch from loving the book to believing in it as a viable addition to your company. At the Acquisitions meeting, should Sales, Marketing, Publicity and other teams agree on the project, you’ll have an offer signed off. Then you make your offer to the agent and start to negotiate . . .
So, it’s a long and multi-faceted process and sometimes you don’t always manage to sign the book you fell in love with. Every editor has ‘the one that got away’! You really need the full support of all the publishing teams in the company behind you, as it’s a team effort every step of the way to a successful publication.