Jennie Jones (moderator), Nikki Logan (moderator), Abby Zidle (Simon & Scuster NY), Laura Bradford (Bradofr Literary Agency), Nina Bruhns (Entangled Publishing), Margaret Marbury (Harlequin HQN, Mira, Luna), Joel Naoum (PanMacmillan/Momentum), Alex Adsett (Agent – Alex Adsett Publishing Services)
Synopsis: The opening pages of an anonymous manuscript are read out to the panel by the moderators. The reading continues until all the panelists are showing their paddle, with either the red ‘Stop’ Sign or the green ‘More’ sign showing.
If a publisher ask for more, they will be able to follow up with author to get further information
Comment: About 8 manuscripts were read out publicly like this (authors not named), in various genres. After the final publisher puts up their sign, feedback will be given as to why they have responded in a particular way, and why.
Note: this was a very brave thing for authors to do, and the feedback overall seemed pretty good. Still it must have been gut-wrenching for them and I applaud their bravery and commend each and every one of them for giving it a go. I have listed the feedback as general comments, not to a specific manuscript. Also some publishers gave contradictory feedback, as they are looking for different things (eg Harlequin not looking for chick lit or women’s fiction, some of the other lines ok with less romance)
– too long in description
– too slow to get started
– not clear what line it was aimed at (eg young adult / new adult)
– know where to start your story, start with the action
– setting can limit the market – if it is a smaller audience it is not a slam dunk
– don’t overwrite the scenery
– don’t make it step by step – give it to us
– narrative voice needs to be focused
– Make sure you send your work to the right editor. The wrong editor will stop reading at the first line.
– chick lit is hard to sell in current market, not going to get past the front door
– Don’t bury your hooks – put them upfront in your story.
– Editors will read with their own agendas. Your work may not be for them, but doesn’t mean it’s not for everyone.
– a strong voice will keep an editor reading longer.
– dumped woman / cheating partner is overly familiar. Moves into women’s fiction / chick lit. Romance lines will not look at it
– the synopsis is important. Editors will use it to see if the story will match the voice.
– you do not want your opening scene to feel familiar. It has to be fresh, even if it’s been done before.
– voice is the key. Editors are looking for X factor
– make male voice believable
– writer heroines not popular with the panel
– they were divided on rock star heroes