Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm Not Looking for Anything

Week of October 2—Recent Lessons Learned from Editors
Monday, October 3—I’m Not Looking for Anything


I’m guessing you saw the title of today’s post and thought, “What kind of editor isn’t looking for anything?” Or you said to yourself, “Great. What chance do I have if she’s not even looking?”

I heard this quote at the SCBWI Conference in NYC in January. During a break, an editor friend came up to me to chat. A woman at the table jumped up and introduced herself and shook the editor’s hand. (Let’s not even talk about how that probably wasn’t a good first impression! J) Now “properly” introduced, the woman asked the editor, “So tell me. What are you looking for these days?” And the editor answered:

“I hate that question. I’m not looking for anything. Picture book writing is an art and picture book editing is an art. I’m looking for stories that move me, not any certain category or trend.”

Let me add quickly that the editor was gracious the entire time and her comments were delivered with a kind voice. (The typed words look much harsher than they sounded.)

So what’s the take-away lesson here? We don’t have to worry about what is hot, what’s not, what the latest trend is, or anything else. All we can do is write the stories that inspire us and craft with them in a way that they move an editor. No small task, is it? The real kicker is that what moves one editor may not move another editor. What one editor considers art, another will consider something less-than art.

Yes, you will find some publishing houses (and some editors) who have preferences or who are on a search for the next _________ (fill in the blank). Some of those houses and editors even list those wants and needs in magazines, journals, and market guides. If you have something that meets their needs, send it! If you’re inspired to write something that meets their needs, write it! But if you don’t have anything to send, and you don’t have an epiphany that this is the book you want to write, then move on.

Bottom line—create art through your writing. Then send it out to folks looking for writing like yours, to people who will consider your writing art. Don’t give up on your quest to find the perfect match. Above all else, work to ensure your writing can be considered art by some editor, somewhere, some time.

2 comments:

Rebecca said...

Thanks so much for these encouraging words!

Rob Sanders said...

Welcome, Rebecca!