Monday, August 6, 2007

A Force Beyond the Scope of Man's Imagination

In looking for submissions info, most publishers say, "Check the website." I have found that many publishers don't keep their websites up-to-date --- some are featuring books from 2003 -2004! When I submit, using info acquired from some websites, the publisher informs me that they no longer have need for such a submission [picture books, for instance] , or in some cases don't even publish children's books any more. The Children's writer's guides seem to be inaccurate more often than not, because of this kind of out-of-date and self-contradicting information. Is there a good answer for this [and a real solution], or are many publishers just as clueless and hopeless as many authors are? Also, why would a publisher want a website that is three years behind?
I'm really curious about which publishers these are. While some of the usual suspects may not bother themselves with updating their online submission guidelines frequently enough, I can't guess which publishers don't have their frontlists up on their websites, or have suddenly decided not to publish kids' books.

Writer's Market (et al) tries to get publishers to update their listings, but answering CWIM is a low-priority job. Why? For the same reason updating the online guidelines is: the slush is a monster big enough to eat Tokyo, but too dumb to find it. Pound for pound, it isn't worth much of our time. You can't blame some people if they're secretly hoping that if they ignore the slush long enough, it'll get confused, wander over to the wrong coast, and eat L.A. instead.

6 comments:

lynne said...

I was wondering who these publishers are too; I'm sure I've seen some sites that are in need of an update, but none that look like they've been neglected for years.
With the new Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM) coming out this month, I think that would be a good place to start in looking for an appropriate publisher. Then you could double-check the contact info with the website before submitting. The CWIM includes what kinds of books each company publishes, tips for approaching them, and often what they're looking for and not looking for.

Anonymous Eponymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous Eponymous said...

Also check the Children's Book Council website: www.cbcbooks.org and click on the link called 'Getting Your Book Published'. They have a CBC member list and often you can jump right to the submission guidelines without having to search agonizingly for them (let's face it, if EA's monster is coming and you have the road sign, you'd would be smart to to hide it under a bush or two).

Also become a member of SCBWI, and sign up for your local email listserve. My branch sends out publishing/editor updates weekly (and often daily). It's a great way to keep up to date with who is and who isn't and which house that nice young editor you met at the last conference has just moved to... She might run from the monster but she can't hide.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I've also noticed that publishers tend to be pretty forgiving if you follow their CWIM entries or SCBWI publisher's guide entries...

One problem with the websites for larger houses (esp. S&S, Random House, and Penguin) is that they don't always accurately list the IMPRINT submission guidelines, which may vary considerably from the publisher's.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Editorial Anonymous, isn't it also OK to call the publisher directly and ask the receptionist if the submissions guidelines remain unchanged (from CWIM, or from the website)? Years ago -- before frequently-updated web sites -- this practice seemed accepted, receptionists knew the information, and they were friendly about giving it out. Has all that changed?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Elizabeth,
Yes, that's fine.