Shawn tossed the manuscript onto his desk. “I’m gonna be honest with you, Marilyn. It’s good, but it’ll never get picked up.”

Marilyn cocked her head and gave her editor the best ‘you’re-making-no-sense’ stare she could muster. “One doesn’t seem to follow from the other, Shawn. If it’s good, it should be able to be picked up, right?”

“Listen,” Shawn sighed, puffing out his cheeks. “There’s exactly two kinds of young adult literature that sell these days. And this isn’t either one of them.”

“It’s unique!” Marilyn protested.

“The publishers are looking for the next Harry Potter, or at least a knockoff good enough to inspire a major motion picture,” Shawn said. “Kids discovering secret powers and fighting evil, preferably with just enough spice so people with public hair might read it as well.”

“But a more realistic…”

“Right, that’s the other kind,” said Shawn. “Hard-hitting novels about kids coming to terms with things. No kid in the universe will ever read it on their own, but it’ll win awards and get assigned as a course reading and maybe even cook up a little sales-boosting controversy.”

“I think that…”

Shawn tapped the manuscript with a bony finger. “This is too in the middle. Realistic kids, underground killer squids, sibling rivalry, multidimensional travel? It’ll never sell.”