Sunday, August 5, 2007

Misc Q&A

I've read over and over again that editors don't like to receive submissions in Priority Mail or Fed Ex packages. Do you think this is generally true? And why is that so?

Are you sure this is editors? Because most editors have other people to sign for the mail and open it for them (one of the small benefits of working at a big company).
Agents, I understand. Many of them work alone or with a very small staff, and may or may not feel the need to keep regular office hours. They do not appreciate it when you send them slush they have to sign for, and if the postal carrier doesn't find the agent's office open and takes your piece of mail back to the post office, you should realize that the agent is not going to go down to the post office to pick up your unsolicited package.

'If a book has a reliable hook'? Which types of hooks would you consider reliable?

A hook that isn't based on
  • how much I love the writing or illustration.
  • a passing fad.
  • something people do experience but about which they do not typically go looking for books.
  • something for which there are many, many, many books already—while I may feel it's being done differently in this case, there's no guarantee the market will feel the same way.
I received a handwritten note on a rejection letter from an editor which said, "There are many stories for children about being yourself. What can you do to this story to make it stand out?" Any thoughts? This is a picture book. Is this the hook you have been blogging about?

'Being yourself' was a hook in the early morning of children's books, but at this point there are so many books on this topic that it's just a theme, not a hook. If you can do any theme in a way that speaks to the way people think of it right now, you can alchemize it back into a hook. Before you can figure out this new way, though, I imagine you'd have to look at the old ways and find yourself bored with them.


Anonymous said...

I send submissions with FedEx but I remove the signature request. I found their tracking is so much more reliable. I have paid for the P.O. tracking in the past only to have them 'lose' the packages.
What they really lost was the tracking sticker - the package got through. Instead of sending a second package (and piling on more slush), I have chosen to use FedEx.

Literaticat said...

for agents, i think it's a combination of two reasons for not wanting fed-ex, etc:

1) they don't want to sign for it, as mentioned

2) many unsolicited manuscripts seem to come this way out of the author's mistaken belief that the ms will look "important" to the agent and will likely be put at the top of the pile.

keep your shirt on, anonymous, i didn't say EVERY author thought that, but i know that SOME do because I've seen authors discussing it on chat boards, etc.

truths: it will NOT get you to the top of the slush pile.

it WILL cost you more money for no reason.

it MIGHT make an agent resent or completely ignore you if they have to jump through any hoops to get your package.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with literaticat, here: it has more to do with jumping the queue than with signing. I won't read a slush submission faster if it's in a fedex or priority mail envelope--I treat it just the same as the rest. The only thing that makes your manuscript more important than the others in the slush pile is if it's BETTER--and that will be the case whether it gets to the publisher faster than others sent on the same day or not.

Kidlitjunkie said...

literaticat said: truths: it will NOT get you to the top of the slush pile.

I need to third this. FedEx and UPS manuscripts get tossed on the slush pile like everything else.

I work in a big publishing house, and the nice mailroom man brings the packages to my desk and hands me a pen, so it's really easy and not inconvenient at all for me to sign for one or two misguided souls who think it will get them noticed. But I can tell you that if I had to go down to the post office to pick these babies up, I just wouldn't. said...

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