Question of the day: Recently on the Dystel & Goderich blog there was a post that bemoaned the fact that agents are having a difficult time getting editors to read their submissions. I'm wondering if other agents are finding this also. Excerpt from DG blog: "Has EVERYBODY stopped reading? This last week a senior editor at a major publishing house received a proposal from us and rather than read it at all, she simply looked up other books in the category and decided that since they hadn’t sold, it wasn’t even worth reading one word of this author’s work. In another, rather shocking instance, a publisher of a very good house turned down material I had submitted saying that the fiction market was extremely difficult these days. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the note – the material I had submitted clearly stated that it was a memoir."
Well, I'm not an agent, but I do chat with my agent regularly, and from what I can tell, it's not that people have stopped reading, it's that acquiring has certainly slowed down, and thus, unless an editor really believes that what he/she is about to take a look at is really going to be worth her time, she's not going to devote said time to it.
One thing that is definitely happening right now, given slow book sales and the whole gloom and doom economy is that fewer books are getting bought and those books that ARE getting bought are selling for a whole lot less than they would have a year ago. I definitely even saw this when we sold The Happiest Days of My Life. Yeah, I got a very nice-sized advance, and trust me, I'm not complaining, but numerous parties involved noted that in a different environment, it would have been an even nicer-sized advance. But again, I'm not complaining. I'm happy to have had a healthy offer and a guarantee of a published book than nothing else, and yeah, these days, plenty of authors who would otherwise have a shot aren't getting them.
So are editors reading less? I'm sure. Because they're buying less. That's the real root of the problem here. Sort of like how in better times, I'd immediately open shopping emails (i.e, J. Crew) in my inbox just to see if there might be something that catches my eye. Now? I rarely bother because I'm not going to spend the money on something that I really don't need.
That said, I'm sorry that you got that "fiction" rejection for your memoir. That does feel sloppy and dismissive, but regardless, it's a "no" all the same, and I'd just try to forget about it. I don't know, maybe it's better to hold off on submissions until things are on the upswing? What do you guys think?