Sunday, May 6, 2007

Zen and the Art of Submitting to Editors

Listen carefully, grasshopper.
"I had a critique done by an assistant editor with one of the bigger children's books publishers while at a conference last summer. She liked the pages I submitted and asked me to send her the entire manuscript. Six months went by and I sent a status query via e-mail. No reply. It is now going on eight months and still no word. At this point do I just give up and assume it is a no? Why would a publisher ask for a manuscript and then never respond? Even after a status query?"

1. She's overworked. Your manuscript is somewhere on her desk, but which pile?

2. Somebody spilled something on your cover letter and you didn't put your contact info on your manuscript pages.

3. Your original mailing never made it to her, so she doesn't know what your status query is talking about and she's embarrassed to admit it.


Never assume it's a "no" until it's a "no." Alternatively, assume everything is a "no" until it's a "yes." Whichever of these methods allows you to KEEP SUBMITTING.

Prod this editor pleasantly and understandingly every three months until she gets back to you, the project sells to someone else, or hell freezes over.

You could think of this as the passive-resistance method: non-violent, persistant action. Sitting still may not seem like much, but it can do great things if you're sitting still at a Woolworth's lunch counter or at a desk addressing envelopes to publishers. It's like the guy who calls out to god to help him win the lottery:

The heavens part. "All right," says God. "Let it be so."
Well, weeks go by and the guy keeps losing.
"Why haven't I won, God?" he calls out in frustration.
The heavens part again. "Do me a favor," says God. "Buy a ticket."

5 comments:

Qual said...

Editorial advice in the form of a parable ... cool.

Anonymous said...

EA, about that 6,000-word picture book you mentioned a while back. I know most picture books are under 1000 words these days, but I've noticed that picture book biographies are often longer and aimed at older readers. How many words max would you want to see in a picture book bio?

Anonymous said...

Random, off topic question --
What is the average first print run for a young adult novel? And for a picture book?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Regarding average print runs: I'm sure this industry information is out there somewhere, but I don't have it. And I couldn't tell you what's average at my house without risking my anonymity. It does depend a lot on the book. Were you asking for any particular reason?
EA

Lois Peterson said...

May I quote you on this if I attribute it to you and include a link to your blog?

'Never assume it's a "no" until it's a "no." Alternatively, assume everything is a "no" until it's a "yes." Whichever of these methods allows you to KEEP SUBMITTING.'

I'm wanting to start including a quote on the splash page of my website every 2-3 weeks.

Thanks.
www.lpwordsolutions.com