Sunday, December 16, 2007

Whether Tis Nobler to Suffer the Slings of Publishers' Indifference or to Take Arms Against a Sea of Contests

I have a YA manuscript that I would like to submit to a First YA Novel Contest. The deadline is Dec. 31. The problem is, I still have that manuscript out to another publisher, and the contest rules say the manuscript cannot be sent out to others while under consideration for the contest. Even though I sent my manuscript out over 8 months ago, I still haven't heard anything. And unlike some publishers, this particular publisher says they will respond within six months if the author sends an SASE, which I did. Two weeks ago, I sent a letter inquiring whether or not they are still considering the manuscript, and if they are, when might they make their decision. I sent another SASE as well. My question to you is, if I still haven't heard back by the contest submission deadline (Dec. 31), do I need to contact the publisher with the manuscript to withdraw it from consideration? I have no desire to antagonize any publishers, but nor do I want to withdraw my manuscript if there is a chance that they want it. Neither the contest nor this other publisher is a sure thing after all.

Eight months is a bit long, no question. I wonder if it's gotten lost there. And you've given them a chance to express interest—even just preliminary interest. I'd recommend withdrawing the manuscript and trying the contest; you can send it back to that publisher later if you like.


Anonymous said...


Are you kidding, Editorial Anonymous?

Withdrawl the manuscript and then send it back to the publishser later after they've already taken 8 months of someone's life?

No sir. (Or ma'am). Bad advice.

Keep it at the publishers -- you've already abided by their rules with the submission and SASE, they are the ones that have not responded to you within the time alloted that, excuse me, THEY set up.

Keep it at the pulishers and send it wherever else you want. The first that says they want it, bingo, they get it.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with this approach big time, and I know there's a growing number of us renegades out here, including well-published writers who are telling people at conferences and workshops, "Submit where you please, when you please. It's nobody's business who else has the ms." I understand that contest people don't want to put in all the time narrowing down a winner and then be told -- "Oops, sorry, another publisher made me an offer last week and I jumped at it." But you know what? TOUGH. Too many writers wait 12+ months and more to hear about a single submission. I have, and every single one of my critique partners has. Stated reponse times mean nothing. It's time to quit being so all-fired scared that nobody's going to publish us unless we do everything 100% to their advantage and start doing smart business. No one's going to improve our lot except us. Put your wares on the market. The first buyer you can strike a deal with is who you go with. Publishers can exist without any one of us, but they can't exist without good writers. Be a damn good writer, and you'll get published.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Anonymous there has a point--what exactly would happen if you submitted the manuscript to the contest and by the time the contest had been judged it had been picked up by a publisher? If the only punishment would be disqualification, maybe you don't care?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Anonymous there has a point--what exactly would happen if you submitted the manuscript to the contest and by the time the contest had been judged it had been picked up by a publisher? If the only punishment would be disqualification, maybe you don't care?

smcelrath said...

True. Disqualification is no big deal if someone else has picked up the ms. However, building good relationships and connections is important if I want to do more than publish just one novel. I'm new enough to the industry that I worry about being "black-balled". Not sure if that kind of thing happens in the publishing business, but I know it happens in other industries.

I didn't know a person could resubmit something if she/he had withdrawn it earlier. Good to know.

Thanks for all the advice.

Anonymous said...

Smcelrath --

Sorry, but you don't have "connections" in this business with people unless they are buying your work to begin with. Writers are a dime a dozen in the publishing world, especially new ones. While of course it is in your best interest to present you and your work in a very professional manner, waiting months on end for one publisher/agent/editor is a sure fire way to never get published.

Even agents send out your work to 5 or 6 editors at a time -- if one takes and interest, the others follow suit (sort of like pirahhnas to a bloody leg) and then maybe you get to choose which editor is the best fit.

Anonymous said...

This is anon. 9:41 again. See, it's this "black-balled" fear that they hold over our heads -- but maybe more accurately we hold it over our own. I've been published multiple times. I have had very good relations with the five houses that have published me, and I am pleasant to work with, really I am. BUT eight months and more of waiting to hear about a submission is routine in this business. Here's the most outlandish experience I've ever had, so help me I kid you not: I once NEVER GOT a reply to a submission that was SOLICITED FROM ME by a company with which I was CURRENTLY UNDER CONTRACT for a book that was then under production!

I say, leave your submissions where they are in case somebody calls X years later and wants your book. But for Heaven's sake don't wait for ONE (or two or three, even) company or contest to make a decision before you try somebody else. That's taking your product off the market every time you have ONE potential customer, who may have shown NO prior interest whatsoever, examining it (or letting it sit there) for however long they please. Dumb? You bet! We want so badly to get published so we can have whatever fame, notoriety, warm-fuzzies, etc. we imagine come from getting published, and meanwhile the publishers are doing business, and that's why everything's stacked in their favor and we put up with it. We gotta wake up.

I'm not going to name names, but there are "names" out there who submit multiply and DO NOT inform anybody that this is a multiple submission. Do they get published? Yup. Continually. Why? Because of what's been said on other threads and in lots of other places: it all comes down to the writing. And also well-targeted marketing.

Anonymous said...

Woo! You tell 'em! Not only is what you say true but consider this ...

I heard an agent who reps both adult and children's authors speak and she said that the children's clients are way more "scared" of editors and the whole editorial process. As someone who can dither over stupid things, I was totally embarrassed.

I completely sympathize with editors and their workload but it does come to a point where it's not our problem if an editor can't get through her slush in a timely fashion. Eight months is a long time. I don't want to boil it down to "ya snooze, ya lose" but there is something akin to that going on here once it passes a reasonable point.


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