Thoughts from the Submission Pile
Back in my life as an actress, I spent every day going on multiple auditions, waking at dawn to ride the subway in my pajamas to arrive at the audition studio around 8AM. I'd write my name on a list of girls auditioning already 25 girls long, took a nap until 9:30, then put on my make up and waited my turn to be seen by the casting director for maybe one minute worth of an audition. Then I would walk out of the room, hop on the subway to the next audition and do it all over again.
It was hard. I spent my days surrounded by the same 50 girls who all looked exactly like me and who all wanted exactly what I wanted. The job.
Every time I walked in the audition room, I was nervous. But then I reminded myself of something one of my teachers told me.
"Every director hopes that the next person to walk into the room is the perfect person for the role."
Sound familiar? Let's take a look at some tweets that have been getting lots of buzz the past few weeks:
Yup. All of you authors out there who are treading the publishing boards every day, waking up every morning to get make your word counts before you trek to your day jobs, are like 20-year-old Jordan auditioning for the next big show. And all of us editors and agents? We're those excited casting directors who hope that every time we open a manuscript, it will make us fall in love.
Since my move to Egmont, I have received a slew of submissions from agents and every time I turn on my e-reader and open a submission, I'm excited to find out if that manuscript will be the one. I recently bought a book that I absolutely adore. It was such a great feeling to walk into my publisher's office and say "I HAVE to buy this book. I am the right person for this book. I get it."
There are times when an agent will call me and let me know that one of the submissions I have has received an offer from another editor. At that point, that submission jumps to the top of my to-read list. Sometimes I love it, other times I enjoy it and see why other people love it, but I'm just not the right person to edit that book. I didn't fall in love. It's very similar to me not getting the part because the director really wanted a leggy, redheaded ballerina and I was a short, brunette tap dancer. It didn't diminish the work I did. It just wasn't the right fit. I always love seeing books I liked, but didn't love enough, sell to an editor who I know will do the book justice.
Editors have to love the books we acquire because we spent a lot of time with them. Not only do we have to read the book multiple times, we have to keep our love and enthusiasm showing from the acquisition meeting all the way to the publication date. Our love pushes the book through the entire publishing process.
Just a quick note. I know a lot of authors on submission want the dream story of selling their book in a week. I've fallen in love with manuscripts that sat in my to-read pile for several weeks because things just kept coming up. I was going to love that book, I just hadn't read it yet.
My hope for you is that the reason you are in this industry is because you love writing. You don't know what to do if you aren't telling stories. Editors love discovering new stories to bring into the world. It's what keeps us motivated.
So keep treading the boards and remember that every time we open a manuscript, we are full of hope that we will fall in love.
In A Chorus Line, the director asks "If today were the day you had to stop dancing, how would you feel?"
So I ask you, if today were the day you had to stop writing, how would you feel?