While I was meeting with Future Intern today, she asked what our acquisition process was like here at CBAY Books. As I sat there telling her how we did it here in Texas-Small-Press-Land, it occurred to me that others might also want to see our process.
So, in an effort to be very clear (and as an excuse to play with Microsoft Vissio), I created a flowchart of the acquisition process. You can view the PDF here.
It's all color-coded, so you can see that there is a lot that the editor does (green) and very little the author (orange) can do. There are also eleven different times you can be rejected, a minimum of five times you can be asked to rewrite -- after all that process could easily turn into an endless feedback look -- but you have to follow all the little arrows, and in order, if you want to get published.
Now, of course, this is more the Blooming Tree way than CBAY. Since it's pretty much just me, I get to be editor, editorial board, marketing and publisher all in one. But I do make P&Ls, run market analysis, and consider a manuscript's merit. On the other hand, it's just me, not several committees. If I like the manuscript, the market's promising, the numbers work, you complement my house's list, and the money's there, you're probably going to get published. Of course, it's still pretty rare that all those things align. (Particularly getting those numbers to work. Tricky little numbers.)
And these are just the steps at a small press with only 7 people. Imagine what it's like at the large houses. Hopefully, this will help you put any rejection you may have ever gotten in your writing career in perspective.
It also demonstrates just how miraculous it is that anything ever gets published.