Blogger: Rachel Kent
I have found that there are some amazing acquisitions editors in our industry, and I’d like to create a list of some of the great things they do. There are also editors that don’t do as well in these categories, and in extreme cases the failings of an acquisitions editor can ruin an author’s career.
A good acquisitions editor will…
1) Respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner. This shows author and agent that they are important and respected by the editor and keeps the business relationship strong. The acquisitions editor serves as the main publishing house contact for the author and agent, so it’s that editor’s job to respond to questions and concerns or in some cases to direct them to the right department.
2) Keep a book’s production on schedule. An acquisitions editor oversees a book’s production and makes sure that all departments in the publishing house are working well together to get that book out to readers.
3) Show enthusiasm for projects and authors that he/she has acquired. The enthusiasm of an editor goes a long way in getting the rest of the publishing house staff excited about a book and author. This starts with the committee meetings when the book is presented to the other editors and sales staff and should continue through the duration of the author’s time with that house. I’ve also seen editors show off their recent acquisitions at writers conferences. This is a great way to promote a new author or book to a group of readers–since most writers love to read, too.
4) Respect that an author’s book is his/her creation. Some editors seem to forget that a book is written by the author and not the editor. A good acquisitions editor will work hard to help the author to write the best book possible by giving good direction and feedback and won’t allow the book to be taken away from the author by in-house editors.
What would you add to this list? What are some other ways your acquisitions editor helps you and shows support? (Let’s keep it positive.)
A list of four things a good acquisitions editor does. Via lit. agent @RachelLKent. Click to tweet.
How does your acquisitions editor help you? Via lit. agent @RachelLKent. Click to tweet.
I haven’t worked with an acquisitions editor on a professional level yet, but as I’m fresh from my first writing conference, the editors there were my heroes for taking time out of their busy schedules to invest in new authors. They offered valuable feedback and encouragement, especially the Genesis judges, who spent a lot of their time on the contest.
Yes, a good editor does all of the above, but from my vantage point, the time and investment at conferences doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated 🙂
True! They really do take a lot of time out from working to do the conferences and a lot of it is done just to give back to the industry and to help budding writers. 🙂
I have not worked with an acquisitions editor before but I have this frightening mental picture of a stern gentleman with a stiletto red pen in hand. I love your helpful comments about what to look for in an acquisitions editor. It certainly makes me less apprehensive about diving into the world of professional writing.
I’m happy you are feeling a little better about diving in! Editors aren’t that scary! At least I haven’t met any like that yet.
All of this makes sense to me. I think the enthusiasm part is a big deal–it would be tough if an editor isn’t excited about a project. Don’t see how they can sell other people on it if they aren’t passionate themselves!
Exactly! Enthusiasm goes a long way.
It’s great to get a behind-the-scenes look at what an acquisitions editor does. To be honest, I had no idea they did so much! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
You are welcome!
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
My mental response to “A good acquisitions editor will…”
I met a very nice acquisitions editor at ACFW who, the poor thing, needed a speed history lesson on my subject matter. Which was great, because I knew I had his attention. His eyes got bigger and bigger and then his jaw dropped. Then he fired questions at me, then he spoke rather quickly and with deep intent.
I know if he takes the book, then he’ll be behind it because he was so intense during the pitch session. Like, really intense.
Also, that a steady supply of chocolate for MOI is important for my attitude, is a good thing for any editor to know.
Lol! Maybe he was so intense because he was so interested in the project?
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
I hope so!!OR…he was thinking “how does she say so many words all at once and not suck in one breath?”
I loved this behind-the-scenes look at acquisitions editors and the roles they play. I hadn’t realized how influential they are with the whole publishing team. Thanks for sharing this, Rachel!
You are welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read it!
I haven’t been blessed with an acquisitions editor yet, but I definitely enjoyed meeting a few at ACFW last weekend. They all displayed such enthusiasm for their jobs. I did not know that they oversee the entire project, but that makes sense, rather than pass it off from editor to editor. Thank you, Rachel, for a peek inside.
Other editors do work on the book, copy editor and typesetter, but the acquisitions editor makes sure everything is going smoothly.
I agree with all of points. Another thing a good acquisitions editor will do is help you brainstorm some ideas or expand upon some of your ideas to give your book more depth. I think the interaction in this area also deepens their interest in the book and helps them “sell” it to the rest of the team with entusiasm.
Yes! Very true! I think many acquisitions editors are the best brainstormers out there. They are immersed in the world of books so they have some very good plot ideas.
These points are all true for my amazing editor, but the one that hits closest to home is #3. At the ACFW conference last week, I was surprised when my acquisitions editor introduced me to another editor as her “recent discovery” and also (in the spotlight session) read from the first pages of my book as an example of “grabbing an editor’s attention.” What a thrill! I love working with her. 🙂
Fun! I love it!
Thank you, Rachel, for the information. I hope my book excites an acquisitions editor one day, soon. 😉 Until then, this gives me a new appreciation for the complexity of the publishing process and the importance of building a great relationship with the acquisitions editor. It also shows why the writer’s agent is so key. A writer would be hard pressed to stay focused on writing/re-writing while attempting to juggle these publication process challenges.
Very lovely piece Rachel. Between #1 and #4, don’t know which I like better. It could be frustrating when you don’t get feedback when you should. Stalls a lot of things on your side, doesn’t it? And remembering that a book means more to the author than simply being a project is a good bonus.
My acquisitions editor did all of those things and more . . . her enthusiasm for my debut novel is why I decided to go with a small press 🙂
My editor, Beth Adams at Howard Books (a division of Simon and Schuster)scored four out of four as does her assistant editor Amanda Demastus!! I’m so blessed!