Andrea Boeshaar has been married for over thirty years. She and her husband, Daniel, have three grown sons and four grandchildren. She’s been writing stories and poems since she was a little girl. To date, she has more than twenty-five novels, numerous novellas, and nonfiction pieces published. Andrea served on the Advisory Board of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and is one of the organization’s cofounders. She is represented by literary agent Steve Laube. In addition to her own writing, Andrea is a certified life coach and helps writers organize, prioritize, set goals, and work toward publication. For more about Andrea, visit her Website at www.andreaboeshaar.com.
I’m so jazzed about writing a new column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. As you can see from the title, it’s called Ask Andrea. I’ll be answering the questions you, as writers and readers, have about agents and editors, the publishing industry in general, and about the authors of your favorite books. If I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll do my best to find out for you. Also, I will respect anyone’s request for anonymity. So this column will be dedicated to everything you ever wanted to know about Christian fiction but were afraid to ask.
Now you can Ask Andrea!
Let’s begin with a question from CJ in Louisville, KY:
Why does it takes so long to hear back from editors about my manuscript? I waited almost a whole year to hear from one of them. Why is a yes or no decision so difficult to make?
Thanks for your inquiry, CJ. I don’t know which publishing houses you’ve submitted to in the past, but I’ve asked two of my editors to help me answer your question. The first comes from Imprint Editor, Debbie Marrie at Realms Fiction (a division of Strang Book Group), publisher of my new historical series called Seasons of Redemption.
There are lots of reasons a
writer won’t hear back from us right away:
• We are bombarded with tons of proposals (several per day) and need time to wade through all of them.
• We require a complete manuscript for new authors and must read through the full manuscript in order to evaluate the author’s writing skills; this is time-consuming.
• Even manuscript evaluations that are outsourced to freelance editors to help lighten the load in-house take at least thirty days for feedback.
• We often assign a reading group of fifteen to twenty people who represent the target audience to read the manuscript to get their feedback in addition to the editor’s evaluation. This takes about thirty days.
• Our acquisitions team (aka publishing board) meets only once every six weeks, so even after the initial evaluation and read-throughs, there can be an additional time lag before the project is added to the agenda of this meeting for the team to approve moving it forward for further consideration.
Thank you, Debbie!
If writers are interested in submitting a novel to Realms Fiction, they can log on to http://www.strangbookgroup.com/ and then click on the tab marked “submit book proposal.”
The next reply comes from editor, Rachel Meisel at Summerside Press, publishers of the Love Finds You romance line.
I was blessed to have helped kick off the line with my novel Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky.
Rachel, how do you answer the question about the time in which it takes for manuscript reviews?
Our turnaround time is anywhere from one month to six months. I feel a tremendous amount of pressure to respond to every proposal in my “Submissions” folder in a timely manner; however, sometimes I simply cannot get back to authors and agents for several months. One thing I’d love authors to understand is that the acquisitions editor is often not the only one who makes a decision to contract a manuscript. At Summerside, the decision to offer a contract is made by committee, and as you might guess, consensus sometimes takes a while to reach.
This is because all our books have to fit in to our long-term publishing plan, and that plan is ever-changing in order to accommodate shifts in reader taste. Right now, our publishing schedule is booked a couple of years out, and we’re still trying to nail down our specific goals for the following years. This means I can’t really respond to the proposals I have sitting on my desk until we know exactly what we want to publish in 2012 and beyond. These factors are based on extensive market research to determine what’s selling now and what we anticipate will be selling in a couple years. After that, we’ve got to determine whether the proposals we’ve received will fit in to the plan we’ve developed and fit our series guidelines. So it just takes time.
I sincerely wish authors understood that the editor’s job is a difficult and sometimes unpleasant one. I receive so many proposals I’d love to contract but can’t, simply because they don’t fit into our publishing plan. I am not a patient person myself, so believe me, I hate requesting patience from authors! I agonize over asking authors to wait for months for a response, only for that response to be a negative one. I understand that my disappointment is probably far less acute than the author’s, but I do hope they understand it’s not personal. We can contract only a small percentage of the hundreds of annual proposals that come in the door.
Thanks so much for your candidness, Rachel. How can writers contact you?
We accept only agented submissions. It helps if the agents first inquire what our needs are, so the authors can write to that. We have pretty specific guidelines for Love Finds You and our other fiction lines.
I hope these two fabulous editors have helped CJ and others understand what happens on their side of the desk. As in any career, being an editor has its stressful moments.
Like CJ, I must confess to feeling impatient at times too. What I’m continually learning, however, is that God’s timing is perfect. If you’re a writer and feel that the Lord has called you to publish your novel, then wait on Him to open the door. Meanwhile, learn all you can about the industry . . .
Which involves asking questions!
And if you’d like your inquiries addressed in my column, please e-mail them to me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time, read on!