The author was understandably confused. I had just critiqued her first pages and liked the work. It was entertaining, she’d kept me engaged throughout her 20 pages, I liked the premise, and her characters. Even though I liked it and felt there was probably an audience for it, I had to pass. Why?
I didn’t love it. I wasn’t passionate about it.
Why do I have to feel passionate about it? This is business, after all, and isn’t it enough that it may sell? No. Not for me. It could be a character flaw, but when I buy a project there are a lot of people I have to win over, and I use my passion for the project as my fuel. There are any number of ways I can get shot down before I extend a contract offer and sometimes the only thing keeping that project alive is my willingness to sink my teeth in and fight for it.
Now I’m not so jaded that I’ll ignore my submission team’s advice, but I have been known to go against the grain and pull a Frank Sinatra – and do it myyyyy waaaaay. This is when it’s good to be queen. But it has its double-edged sword as well, and that means that my maverick ways can bite me on the lower forty. That is why I need to feel passionate about the work.
This extends over into how we promote and market the work. The more head over heels in love I am, the easier the ideas come bursting into my melon. It also affects my copywork when I’m writing tip sheets and cover letters – those words have to flow from deep inside my gut because I know I have very little time to reach out and touch the person reading my cover letter and tip sheet in hopes of a review. I never say die to something I love and feel passionately about, and this is an author’s best friend. It’s also the luxury of being a small publisher.
So if you ever see a critique or rejection letter that says, “I like it, but I don’t love it,” this is invariably what we mean. That doesn’t mean you bite; it just means it’s not right for me.