Saturday, 17 December 2011

17th December 2011 Lesson 101 on submissions.

I really, really find rejecting submissions something that is very, difficult. As an author I know how hard it is to take each rejection professionally rather than personally, and how hard it can be to grow the thick skin required to paper your walls with rejection slips.

I’ve rejected submissions for all kinds of reasons, from bad writing to bad plotting, stylistic issues to poor presentation. I’ve rejected manuscripts on purely commercial grounds, they don’t fit with our portfolio, or are too far “out there” to be a commercial success for us. I’ve even turned down books because of their highly questionable content, and no, I’m not going to elaborate on that one little bit, I’ll let you use your imaginations as to why I spend the next few minutes after reading them thinking about worshipping at the large throated white god in the bathroom. That’s just talking about fiction, we’ve pretty much pulled out of the non-fiction market having been bombarded with diet and self-help for self-harmers books where the author had no qualifications to write the book in the first place.

Today’s rejection though takes the biscuit, one I never thought I’d have to issue. It took me about three minutes to read the e-mail with a growing sense of disbelief, and about two more minutes to confirm my memory.

The reason for this rejection?

A serious Submission 101 breach.

It had already been rejected by us before! Fifteen months ago!

We hadn’t suggested a rewrite and resubmit, it had been a flat rejection, go find yourself someone else. I’ve come across authors who stubbornly send one book after another to a publisher, to be rejected time and time again until the publisher loses patience and says go forth and multiply, but honestly, to send the same book in again?

I have to be careful, this blog is turning into a crusading tirade against human stupidity.

I'm beginning to wonder if I’m the one who needs help.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

13th December 2012 Submission Guidelines.

I think I’ve reached my lowest possible ebb on this particular subject.

We reopened for submissions at the beginning of this month having cleared a rather heavy backlog, and when we did so, we deliberately reopened with much simpler guidelines.

Gone were the detailed formatting instructions, the list of specific exclusions, and all the hard bits, even the need to send the entire manuscript was removed. We do, however, reluctantly continue to exclude the publishing of poetry, non-fiction and children’s work but other than that there are no exclusions on  the page.

This is the core guideline:

"In the first instance please send an e-mail to ... telling us about yourself, with a short synopsis (not chapter by chapter) of your book together with a minimum of the first chapter of your book as an attachment in Word .doc or .rtf format. Please indicate whether you have completed the book. If your manuscript is shorter than 10,000 words please send the complete story. You must tell us if it has been previously, or is currently, published or self-published."

You’d have thought that was pretty simple, wouldn’t you? Nobody could get that wrong, could they?

Oh dear... can they ever.

Of six submissions sent in from authors we don't know so far:

1.       Nothing about the author, nothing to say if it was already completed.

2.       The first three chapters of the book were included in the body of the document.

3.        No synopsis, and nothing about it having been published – a twenty second search showed it on Smashwords. Nothing about how complete the manuscript is.

4.       A short story (in the author’s words about 5,000 words), only the first section attached, again nothing about the author.

5.       Met the guidelines but adds, no one has accepted my book for publication because they just don’t “get” my sense of humour.

6.        From the same author as number 5, ditto.

Two out of six meet the guidelines, and those two have broken a rule that shouldn’t need to be spelt out – don’t alienate the publisher, and especially not by criticising other publishers for rejecting the book.

Someone, please shoot me so I wake up from this nightmare.