As previously mentioned, Editorial Meetings are pretty much the pinnacle of THE INTERN's existence, right up there with opening her backpack to find that her beloved Techie Boyfriend has packed her a delightful lunch complete with See's chocolates for dessert (which happened today! graow!). There's something tense and exciting about sitting around a table with all those short-listed manuscripts piled up in front of each editor, waiting for each one to be handled and chewed over. It's like watching Olympic diving. Hot.
Editorial meetings are where manuscripts in the "maybe" pile either get voted off the island or stay on for another round. Before becoming an intern, INTERN supposed this involved a lot of vigorous debate over the deeper meaning of a given book, its cultural significance, its zeitgeist.
What really goes on in editorial meetings is a lot like what goes on when a bunch of girlfriends go out shopping for clothes.
Many acquisitions can be boiled down to one fundamental question: Does This Make My Boobs Look Good?
Never underestimate the importance of the appearance of a certain publisher's proverbial Boobs. It doesn't matter how good your manuscript looks on the hanger. If it doesn't fit the publisher—or fit in with the publisher's overall style—it won't fly. INTERN can't count the number of times the only question that comes up at an editorial meeting is "I like this, but is it for us?" ("Oh, it looks good on you, sweetie." "Are you sure? Doesn't it make me look fat?" etc.)
INTERN tells you this for two reasons. Actually, three reasons:
1) Because 90% of declines are because the ms just doesn't fit. It's nothing personal: it just don't fit!
2) Because, with this in mind, you should never, ever submit your shizz all over the place without thoroughly studying the publisher first. It's like getting the saleslady at Forever 21 to pick out an outfit for your grandma.
3) Because, with this in mind, it's better to get an agent who actually knows the best place to submit your ms.
"Does This Make My Boobs Look Good?" is obviously not the only question that comes up during editorial meetings, but it's the question that gets put to every single manuscript.
Other questions that come up are specific to certain manuscripts or authors. INTERN was intrigued to discover that a lot of the time, editors are actively looking for books on certain topics ("let me know if anything about shape-shifting extraterrestrials shows up in the slush pile") and will often call up an author they already know rather than waiting for a book proposal on that topic to trickle in ("why don't you call up Larry and see if he'll write us a book about shape-shifting extraterrestrials?").
Editors also sometimes quibble over whether or not they want to keep on working with a certain problem author. e.g. "Yeah, Jane Smith has done ten successful books with us, but she did set fire to my doormat and send us anthrax in the mail after finding a typo in that last one."
At the end of each editorial meeting, everyone goes around the table and tells one personal thing that happened to them that week. A lot of people talk about dentist appointments. INTERN tells about playing a show with her recently disbanded harsh noise band.
Then everyone goes back to work.