So, I’ve been here a month, now. I’ve begun to attend the editorial meetings on Wednesday afternoons, which are incredibly informative. The meeting begins with The Closing List, which is a list of book proposals for which an editor must give their final offer. Books are bought from an author and his agent, not just taken on. The offer from a publishing house could be in the thousands of dollars, but it could very well be in the millions, depending on who the author is and how great her book is. The editors, marketing people, assistant editor, editorial assistants, editor-in-chief and publisher discuss each of these titles. I just sit and listen, even though I desperately want to tell these people my own opinions on the books they are publishing. The discussion is usually led by the acquiring editor, the person who will be buying (with S&S’s money of course) the book. In these meetings, actual money is discussed far less frequently than whether the book will be bought at all.
In auctions for books, Touchstone/Fireside seems to always have the floor. To “have the floor” is to make the first offer, thereby making sure that any other offer must beat the first one. If you’re a little guy who offers $10,000, this might not seem important. But to a major player like S&S, this means that many will walk away because of a high floor, leaving Touchtone/Fireside (the buying imprint) with few competitors for the book.