The Submission Experience Part 4: Acquisitions
Hello, friends! And welcome back to the most interrupted series of all time! I am so sorry for the delays in each part of this series. I am loving everything I'm doing to prep for the #KidsChoiceKidLitWritingContest, but it is quite honestly a lot of work, and I am still in the middle of my revisions for my NF MG, so life happens. Thank you for understanding and being patient with me. This post should be much shorter than the other parts so far in this series. (Famous last words... because we all know that I am not one for brevity).
If you are new around here, you might not know what this series is all about... basically, I am trying to shine a light on the entire submission process, because it really is not clear, even for authors who are on sub. If you missed the first three parts, catch them here:
Part Three: Revise and Resubmit
Two posts ago we talked about second reads and last time, we talked about the potential for an R&R. So this next step comes after one (or both) of those. Some people go straight from second reads on to acquisitions, other will have an R&R first, and others might even get an R&R after a try at acquisitions. But today, we get to talk about that really awesome-really stressful moment when an editor takes your book to acquisitions!
Even if an editor falls completely head-over-heels in love with your book. Even if their team agrees that it's the best thing they've ever read. Even if you nailed the R&R... you still aren't quite guaranteed an offer. There's one more step--the acquisitions meeting!
Sometimes an editor will tell you that they are about to take your book to acquisitions. Sometimes you don't find out that it went until after the fact and they send you either a pass or an offer. But either way, you have to make it through that meeting.
So, what is an acquisition meeting? Well... it's the big meeting where the entire publishing house gets together to talk about the books that each editor wants to offer on. This is a huge meeting. At the big publishing houses, it includes the entire group. Every imprint under the larger umbrella. (For example, KID MADE went to the Macmillan acquisitions meeting with my editor from Feiwel and Friends and at that same meeting, editors were there from FSG, Roaring Brook, Henry Holt, Etc.) My understanding is that some mid-size and smaller imprints don't have the massive meeting and can take care of acquisitions decisions in their smaller group, even if they are under a larger umbrella.
But those big houses have a big-ol meeting. Editors, managers/CEOs, and the heads of all the departments (more on that below) come to this meeting. And then the editors pitch the books they want to take on and everyone has to agree to it. The editors share a pitch, a profit and loss report (basically, how many copies they think your book will sell based on comp titles, how much they think it will cost the publisher to print, promote, and market the book, and what the overall profit will be), and a report on why they want the book, where they see it fitting in the market, etc. They'll likely read portions of the MS (or perhaps the entire thing with PBs) and talk about exactly why they love your book.
Now... You should know that they are trying to convince a lot of people to give them the green light on offering on your book. Because again, loving it isn't enough in this capitalist world we live in. Here's a bit more on the people they have to convince:
Publicity and Marketing: does the publisher see where this book will fit into the market and how they will be able to place it for maximum sales?
School and Library: is this a book that schools and libraries are going to want?
Sales: is this book going to sell enough copies to be worth the cost of printing it? Does the house already have something too similar? (they don't want to compete with themselves).
And then of course there are the managers and CEOs and big-boss-guys who also have to be convinced.
Everyone has to agree that this is a book they want to take on.
So, what are the chances that your book will get that offer after this meeting? Well, let's look at the statistics from my awesome survey respondents...
(As a reminder, I had 102 amazing authors who have been on sub respond to my survey. You can check out more statistics in the other parts of this series).
The statistics are MUCH better this week than they were in our last part about R&Rs. While there is still a good chunk of people who unfortunately get a "no" at the acquisitions stage, over 62% of books that made it to acquisitions ended with an offer!
To speak of my own experience, of the 4 books I had go to acquisitions, 2 of them came out with offers right away. The other 2 got "no's" the first time they went to acquisitions. But then they went to different acquisition meetings with different publishers, and ultimately received a "yes" from those publishers! So I think that this statistic is actually probably even higher on books that get a "yes" at the acquisitions point, because they maybe will go on to a different acquisitions meeting and receive a yes then.
So after the editor leaves an acquisitions meeting, they will either have the green light to send you an offer letter, or unfortunately, they will have to send a rejection. We're going to talk all about the super exciting part of offers, pre-empts, and auctions next time, but for now, I will say... there is seriously nothing as exciting as getting a call from your agent with an offer. For reals. Toon in next time for all the details on that. But before I let you go, I'll sign off with some words from my anonymous survey respondents.
"An editor can love your book and it still might not end up in a sale because the money people don’t think it’s easily marketable."
"It's all about finding the right fit. When you hear an editor gush about what they love about your manuscript, you know it was worth the wait!"
"We had a meeting with an editor and went to acquisitions at a press - only to find they’ve decided not to acquire any more picture books. It is what it is I guess."
"Publishing is incredibly slow…until suddenly, it’s not! But in the glacial wait, just breathe and take the time to get inspired by something else, rather than obsessing over your inbox!"
"It’s very subjective and informed by ppl’s prejudices , a lot depends on network and personal connections - sucks for marginalized humans."
"I think it has less to do with the quality of writing and more to do with hot topics/luck of timing. I mean, there has to be some level of quality to writing, but a lot has to do with topic/timing (I know I'm not a better writer than others who maybe haven't sold yet or as quickly)"
Well... there you have it, folks! I hope this series continues to be helpful to you. And remember, get your submissions ready for the Kids' Choice KidLit Writing Contest opening in 2 weeks!
About Kailei Pew
Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and children's book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary. Kailei's debut Middle Grade Book, KID MADE will be coming to you from Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan Summer 2023