Why am I posting about how to avoid rejection vs how to get an acceptance? After spending the weekend with Karen Boss (Charlesbridge) I am more convinced than ever before that it is really tough for some editors to tell you specifically what they want. Although I know Boss really likes nonfiction, I can’t point to one manuscript and say “that one.” Her tastes are pretty diverse.
But she was able to give us a couple of specific things she doesn’t like. She is not the right choice for high fantasy. And picture books have to have more than a sweet story. They also cannot be sermons in disguise (my words, not hers).
Does that mean no lesson’s allowed? Hardly. But the lesson has to be secondary. The story has to come first.
When asked what she liked, Boss always hesitated. She isn’t really an “I’ll know it when I see it” person. But she doesn’t want to rule something out by not listing it.
And when we were, as a group, discussing Manuscript Wish List, she reminded us to go beyond what the editors want. Pay very close attention, she warned, to what they don’t want.
Why? Because an editor who publishes chapter books may not know he’d love your story centered around a family owned food truck. After all, he isn’t a foodie. But he does know that he doesn’t want your book in rhyme, your middle grade fantasy or your graphic novel. Those kinds of things just don’t speak to him.
And, no, I wasn’t talking about a specific editor in the preceding paragraph. It is simply a fictional example. I didn’t want you to think I was quoting Boss.
Too often we prowl Facebook and Twitter looking for posts by editors and agents. What does she want? What are his hobbies?
Instead, spend the time honing your craft. That will definitely increase your opportunities of getting an acceptance.