How does an editor know that she wants to recommend a manuscript for acquisition? When does she know?
Does that special knowledge blossom after she’s finished reading the whole thing, or can she tell right from the start? Does she have to sleep on it, or does she feel she may immediately burst into flames if she doesn’t write the acquisition report right away?
For every manuscript, it’s different. Editors can often tell right away if they *don’t* want a manuscript (sometimes within three sentences!), but the moment that we decide we *do* want a manuscript — that’s unique and much harder to pin down.
In my role as an acquiring editor over the years, I can pinpoint only a few really vivid, concrete moments when I knew the manuscript I was reading was a yes. In one instance, it was the opening line of Chapter Nine, “The verbs were the first to go,” when the author introduced a POV character suffering Alzheimer’s. In another, it was a moment two-thirds of the way through a mystery, when a major character — who I did not expect to die — was murdered, and the entire landscape of the manuscript shifted around me into something bleak, heart-wrenching, and almost unrecognizable (um, in a good way!).
For Michelle Garren Flye’s small-town romance Where the Heart Lies, it was Liam’s first magic trick.
Alicia Galloway has lost her husband to war and moved to his small hometown to help out at his parents’ bookstore. On her first night there — a little overwhelmed, sad, and worried about how she’ll care for her two young children while working full-time — she meets Liam Addison. Liam was her husband’s childhood best friend, the town bad boy who grew up to be a physics professor at a nearby college. While Alicia is distracted, putting her infant son to sleep in the master bedroom, her daughter Gemma wakes up and finds Liam in the kitchen. When Alicia returns…
She found Liam at the kitchen table with Gemma, who was drinking milk and munching contentedly on a doughnut. In front of him sat a candle, a lighter, a glass and a bowl. The bowl held a little water and a coin. As Alicia paused in the doorway, Liam looked at Gemma. “Do you believe I can get the quarter out of the water without getting my fingers wet?”
Her mouth full of doughnut, Gemma shook her head from side to side. With a mysterious expression and dancing eyes, Liam lit the candle, placed it in the bowl and put the glass upside down over the candle. Gemma sat spellbound, staring at the dish, and then her eyes widened. All the water had been sucked into the over- turned glass, leaving the dish nearly dry. Liam picked up the coin and handed it to Gemma with a flourish. “For your piggy bank, madam.”
In that moment, I knew that Michelle had created a wonderful hero, and I knew that I’d be recommending the manuscript for acquisition. Alicia and Liam’s love story did not disappoint from there — it grew into a lovely romance that I’m proud to have worked on.
Where the Heart Lies will be released on the 16th — but you can pre-order it today. And even better, it’s on sale for 99 cents!
And Where the Heart Lies isn’t the only 99 cent deal this month — two other wonderful Carina titles are up for grabs. Check out Only Fear by Anne Marie Becker for a thrilling romantic suspense, or By Royal Command by Laura Navarre for a sweeping historical romance.
No matter what you’re reading, I hope it’s wonderful — and I hope that you’re enjoying many of those OH YES moments when you know that the story you’re reading is exactly right for you.