Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's As Easy As 1-2-3. Unless You're Crazy.

I am searching for information on how to submit/send a manuscript to a Publishing House(s).
I have written a whimsical,magical Children's Picture Book. I love the book and I think the query letter is ready to go!
I have the 2010 Writers Market Guide, and I can find who does and who does not accept what and when! I can't find how to physically mail the manuscript to those publishers that specify:'Send query and manuscript'.
I need some very basic info e.g. Should the manuscript be loose? Does it go in a folder, or an envelope, or an envelope inside another envelope? Where should the writer's name be written on the manuscript? Are there specific rules somewhere? Is this a secret club?
I think writing the book was the easy part! What do I need to do to accommodate editors?
I need an on-line class called: "Get Me To The Post Office with the Correct Folders, Envelopes and Stamps!"
I don't even like asking you to respond to such elementary questions. Is there a book called Envelopes and Manuscripts For Dummies?
First: Calm down.

Second: Remember that you're sending business correspondence. Look at the publishers' submission guidelines, and obey them. Past that, make what you send us simple, straightforward, easy to read, and no-frills. Interact with publishers like a fellow professional, and you won't go wrong.

The reason there seem to be a lot of "rules" out there is that we get correspondence from a hell of a lot of people who think they're sending their manuscript:

a. To people who should be flattered and grateful for the 9,574th piece of slush to arrive in the office this year (rather than feeling a much more likely ambivalence). No, they didn't send us an SASE or read our submission guidelines, but we should still be willing to spend $18 to put their oversize original art in the mail back to them. And if not we should be willing to listen to lengthy tirades in which they threaten us with legal action.

b. To the fairies. Which is why it's printed in Curlz, bound in ribbons, and shipped with a pound of loose glitter in the box.

c. To their 5th grade teacher, who was SO IMPRESSED when they turned in their report with their own "illustrations", and bound in a plastic folder. We will be impressed by plain paper, and no illustrations. There is no A for effort in publishing--what you're selling us is the writing, and any attempt to distract from that is very, very transparent.

d. To a class of kindergartners. Which is why the cover letter launches into a gooey exploration of the kinds of dreams unicorns probably have, rather than telling us directly what the manuscript is about and why you think we'd want it.

e. To god knows who. I haven't the faintest idea who people think is on the other end of submissions that include stuffed animals, baked goods, clothing, dental molds, intimate photos of themselves, q-tips, five kinds of rice, or a bunch of pressed insects.

Third: Now go to the post office.

16 comments:

lisav said...

I know. I know. How patient EA is. Thank you for reiterating once again that this is a professional relationship. No glitter, no ribbons, no testimonials from the grandchildren and please no illustrations provided by those extremely talented grandchildren. Just type on paper please.

jan said...

Most market guides have directions for what manuscripts LOOK like (where to put your name and such). The directions are in the front of the books, in all those pages that come before the market lists. There are almost always examples to show you exactly how to make your submissions look.

Michael Grant said...

People send you stuffed animals and glitter? I'm sorry, EA, but this is your fault.

Clearly you are passing up a great opportunity. If you would simply explain that while you have plenty of stuffed animals you could never have enough bottles of Bordeaux, or baskets of truffles or, for that matter, diamonds, you'd be far happier.

In return you don't promise publication, obviously, but an upgraded form rejection. Maybe something on nice paper, possibly with raised letterhead. And you'd have to include a nice, supportive phrase, like, "While I don't feel this manuscript is quite there yet, I look forward to your next submission -- which will include something in a blue Tiffany's box."

Editorial Anonymous said...

Are you offering, Michael?

Ishta Mercurio said...

I hear The Rejectionist is offering critical feedback in exchange for mangoes.

Perhaps a revolution in which aspiring authors can barter for feedback is underfoot...

Adam Heine said...

See, this is what Google is for. Also I hate to be the one to tell you this, Author, but writing the book is the easy part.

Hey look! I got another rejection just now!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Here's hoping her manuscript has a tad fewer exclamation points than her letter.

Claire Dawn said...

Dental moulds? :O

I love the crazies! They make me look so much more normal!

Stroppy Author said...

and perhaps not so many capital letters. I wouldn't read beyond the letter, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Jan, you're right, the Writer's Market does tell how to format and send a manuscript.

Ix-nay on the staples, questioner. Less is more. Just stick the loose pages (numbered) in an envelope with a cover letter and an SASE.

Yeah, I wouldn't have read past all those capital letters and exclamation points either.

Sam Hranac said...

My friend, Julie June-bug arrived... PRESSED?!? Oh dear god. No wonder you didn't accept my 15,000 word picture book!

Bethany said...

I have a couple of OBGYNs in the family. It's the kind of job that, as a kid, I just thought was the easiest and most fun. You basically look at, prepare for, and deliver babies all day, right? Because, being entirely unfamiliar with the reality of the people with whom they interact, I could not have conceived of the other side of that business. This is basically the way I feel about publishing. You had me at intimate photos. No, wait, you lost me. You lost me at intimate photos. *vomit*

Anonymous said...

In addition to Google and the market guides, this is what SCBWI is for. In spades.

If you don't know what it stand for, google THAT.

(When did people decide it was easier to bother people by e-mailing questions than it was to do basic research?)

Anonymous said...

And join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators www.scbwi.org . They give you all kinds of newbie stuff and there are a zillion people happy to answer these questions all over their boards too!

Anonymous said...

First, you are here on EA's wonderful site. Read every post she has made and many of your questions will be answered. At the very least, you will be directed to places where you can find answers.

Second, writing a picture book IS easy. Writing a picture book that someone will publish is extremely difficult. Writing a picture book worth anything at all (even one that is only marginally decent but would never be picked up by a publisher) is in no way easier than figuring out how to send it to a publisher.

Third, the fact that you are asking these questions at all show that you have risen above a huge chunk of people who are widely and indiscriminately (and often annoyingly, unprofessionally, and even creepily) sending their stories to publishers.

Which is great! Welcome to the crazy world of the unpublished and underpublished writer.

J.E. MacLeod said...

Dental molds?