Second, acquisition editors know their particular markets. If they say 'no', it may simply mean one is targeting the wrong market. Or, as sometimes happens, that even if one's book is brilliant, it may not be commercial. Don't shoot the messenger just because the answer isn't what one was hoping for. The acquisition editor is still doing the writer a favour, by identifying that this publisher is not the right venue for this book. One needs to find the right audience for one's book to succeed, and if that means asking a series of acquisition editors for directions, one shouldn't be too disappointed if they simply say theirs is not the correct on-ramp for where one wants to go.
(Insert here standard lecture about researching markets before submitting—it never ceases to amaze me that so many manuscripts that show up in the wrong slush piles. Why submit a horror manuscript to an SF publisher that states right on their website that they don't publish horror? Why submit an American SF novel to a specialty CanLit publisher? Waste of everybody's time and energy. If one is constantly getting the 'not for us' form letter, better check again that the right markets are being targeted.)
This column originally appeared in Writer-in-Residence: Common Sense Guidance for Writers by Writers, curated by Krista D. Ball. http://writer-in-residence.blogspot.com/2011/03/editor-is-not-your-enemy.html