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eldragon
04-21-2005, 11:06 PM
I'm so frustrated. I finished my manuscript last summer, and almost immediately signed up with a bogus agent. For 6 months, I basically waited for nothing. Now, I am looking for another agent. It seems like about 30% of those queried are interested. Then, about half ask for manuscripts sent through the mail. GREAT! I take my disc and get a copy or two (depending on what they asked for) and mail it priority flat rate mail - total cost - $20-30. Then, NOTHING> Nothing. Nothing.


Or, I email the agent. Did you get it? "yes, its good, but needs some work. I'll pass it to my editor." Then .......nothing nothing nothing again.



I mean.........what do they want from me? I know what I want from them! A freakin clue about whats wrong with my book!!!!!!!! Does it need more SEX? Is it too good? Horribly written?? Please! I read all the time ......and I can't believe my book is that bad! It's not some bogus novel.....some cheezy story I made up! It's non-fiction - narrative. Everyone I talk to about the book says "Oh, thats interesting. I'd buy that book." BUT - no agent will help me!!!!!!

I'm starting to just get mad. My book has almost 400 double spaced pages to it. I can't keep absorbing the expense of printing it out and mailing it. Should I just burn the thing and shoot myself?

Julie Worth
04-21-2005, 11:19 PM
Why don't you post your opening chapter under Share Your Work?

Maryn
04-21-2005, 11:28 PM
You've recover faster if you shoot the thing and burn yourself--but I hope you don't do either one!

Agents are not in the critique business. They're in the book-selling business, and while it's great when one tells a rejected would-be client that the book needs more sex or is horribly written, they're not obligated or even expected to tell you anything beyond "Not for us/me at this time."

Perhaps (if you're not ready to pursue another round of get-an-agent) it's time to line up some beta (or gamma) readers who know their stuff and will tell you what they see as the book's weaknesses. I bet you know some non-fiction writers here and already have some ideas about who's solid and who's still learning the craft...

Maryn, working on "some bogus novel... some cheesy story she made up!" :gone:

Julie Worth
04-21-2005, 11:40 PM
And maybe itís time to give up on agents and approach publishers directly. Most independents are non-fiction, and most of them you donít need an agent.

eldragon
04-21-2005, 11:44 PM
I already did that.......already.

(Posted on the share your work forum) and re-wrote my entire book.......got some good , no, great tips.

You think I'd recover fast from burning?

I know agents aren't in the critique business .......but are they in the answering emails business? Or, how about the "I requested your manuscript, and you sent it right away, now here's what I think of it business?"
Would a formal rejection hurt? I'm the same one who sent my manuscript (by request) to an agent in CANADA who was so excited about it and it took her 6 months to reject me.

Get my point?????????


BTW - I totally hate fiction. I'm sorry about that - it's just me.

eldragon
04-21-2005, 11:45 PM
You're probably right! (maybe).


I guess I'm also a little mad because I have been waiting for a refrigerator repair man ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!!

Julie Worth
04-21-2005, 11:47 PM
I guess I'm also a little mad because I have been waiting for a refrigerator repair man ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!!

Bastard! He's probably a literary agent by night.

eldragon
04-21-2005, 11:51 PM
At least I could hand him my manuscript in person ........saves money on postage, you know.

zeprosnepsid
04-22-2005, 12:58 AM
It takes longer for them to reply to a full manuscript than to a query. Many other people have said it takes months.

All you can do is start working on the next book and not think about it.

Good luck!

Ella
04-22-2005, 01:48 AM
Bastard! He's probably a literary agent by night.

:ROFL:

Stay strong, eldragon.
Maybe make yourself a budget allowance for each month for sending manuscripts & queries. Then you know that expense is coming, and it won't seem so bad when you pay it. It will also help you stay on track with submissions.

CACTUSWENDY
04-22-2005, 02:02 AM
:Wha: I know you don't want 'I share your pain" type of reply.

I know sometimes submitting makes you want to die.

But rest assurd and know you are not alone,

Here...take this ...my old chewed on bone.;)

From what I read in this forum, we who have yet to break through the magic line of the wonderful world of being published do feel your pain and all the frustration that goes along with it. In two years ask me if I think it was worth it. Right now I'm not sure.

But keep this in mind...you are not alone. We are here for you and do keep our fingers crossed for you and feel free to rant and rave all you want. I'm sure there are others that do and we just don't 'hear' them.:gone:

maestrowork
04-22-2005, 02:04 AM
I know this is going to sound insensitive... but I have been there, and I happen to think this is really true and helps me from going insane:

Uncle Jim said: send it out. forget about it. write your next books....

Seriously, I have subs out there for over a year. I don't have the mental energy to chase them down. If they come back an acceptance, great (fortunately it's not available anymore... because... read on...) but most likely if the agent is not scrambling to call me back, it's most probably a rejection anyway.

So I kept writing, and I kept sending it out. And if it's an "exclusive read" I offer a time limit. Just keep sending it out until someone bites. Meanwhile, what is out is out -- it's out of my control, and I don't want to fret over it.

Are you writing your next book? If not, do it. If so, focus on it.

arkady
04-22-2005, 04:44 PM
I'm so frustrated ... It seems like about 30% of those queried are interested. Then, about half ask for manuscripts sent through the mail. GREAT! I take my disc and get a copy or two (depending on what they asked for) and mail it priority flat rate mail - total cost - $20-30. Then, NOTHING> Nothing. Nothing.

Ah feel yore pain. But look at it this way: after 53 queries, the only non-form-letter response I've gotten has been one (1) request for partial. I've revised and improved my query letter many times, I follow each and every guideline scrupulously, and still nothing but "dear author..."

How I wish I was getting 30% interest!

Hope this rant helps you to keep it in perspective.

dragonjax
04-22-2005, 05:36 PM
Since I decided to stop fretting over my current completed novel, I've typed more than 54,000 words in my WIP. Stop thinking about your book once you submit it to an agent; move on to the next project. It will keep you a tad saner.

brinkett
04-22-2005, 05:42 PM
In two years ask me if I think it was worth it. Right now I'm not sure.

I'm not always sure either. The beautiful weather has finally arrived where I am, but I'll be spending most of the weekend inside preparing my second round of queries. I do have moments when I wonder why I'm doing it, but they pass.



Ah feel yore pain. But look at it this way: after 53 queries, the only non-form-letter response I've gotten has been one (1) request for partial. I've revised and improved my query letter many times, I follow each and every guideline scrupulously, and still nothing but "dear author..."

Could it be something about the story? From day 1, I've known that I'm not likely to sell my story to a large publisher and so probably won't find an agent, but I'm querying agents first so I won't ask myself "should I have..." in 20 years. I've been surprised that a few agents have asked for more. After that, I'll query the large publishers for the same reason before moving on to the smaller presses.

Forgetting about the work once you start submitting it is good advice. I'm working on something else while I shop the first one around.

arkady
04-22-2005, 07:23 PM
Could it be something about the story?

About the premise itself, you mean? I have no idea. Since rejections never come with commentary, I have no way to know.


Forgetting about the work once you start submitting it is good advice. I'm working on something else while I shop the first one around.

So am I. But the form rejections on the first one keep rolling in nevertheless. That's why I can sympathize with eldragon, even though I wish I were in his (her?) shoes.

brinkett
04-22-2005, 08:32 PM
About the premise itself, you mean? I have no idea. Since rejections never come with commentary, I have no way to know.

Yes, that's what I meant. And it is demoralizing to receive a lot of form rejections since you have no idea what, if anything, needs to be fixed.



So am I. But the form rejections on the first one keep rolling in nevertheless. That's why I can sympathize with eldragon, even though I wish I were in his (her?) shoes.
I sympathize with anyone who's currently querying--it can be a real grind. But I did a lot of reading before I started so I knew that waiting was par for the course. Some writers have posted that replies are still trickling in over a year after they sent the query, so when I stick those envelopes into the mailbox, I forget about them. Email is a different story. I find that you either get a response fairly quickly (within 72 hours) or not at all. Only once so far have I received a response to an e-query more than a few days after I sent it.

eldragon
04-23-2005, 03:48 AM
Well, I find it very hard to send stuff and wait. (And wait, and wait and wait .....and then give up and start over).

Wait for how long? Wait for what? Sorry - but I just can't buy the whole ......too busy to make a decision on your manuscript thing.

My last hopeful agent asked me for two copies of my book and I sent it out almost immediately. I had just finished re-writing some areas, and had to rush to get it done. THEN - I had to drive 20 miles to print it out - cause there isn't an office depot type place where I live. (My book is almost 400 double spaced pages.......I can't wait for my printer to do it).


So, I send the two copies by priority mail and wait 5 days ....sent her an email. "Did you get it?" Yes - she did. "It's good, but it needs work. I am forwarding the other copy to my senior editor." Ok ....she had read the first half of the book in a day ........it's been 2 weeks and I have heard nothing.


Nothing.


Seems like there is always something else to do to keep me from preparing more submissions and/or queries.

Jamesaritchie
04-23-2005, 05:02 AM
I'm so frustrated. I finished my manuscript last summer, and almost immediately signed up with a bogus agent. For 6 months, I basically waited for nothing. Now, I am looking for another agent. It seems like about 30% of those queried are interested. Then, about half ask for manuscripts sent through the mail. GREAT! I take my disc and get a copy or two (depending on what they asked for) and mail it priority flat rate mail - total cost - $20-30. Then, NOTHING> Nothing. Nothing.


Or, I email the agent. Did you get it? "yes, its good, but needs some work. I'll pass it to my editor." Then .......nothing nothing nothing again.



I mean.........what do they want from me? I know what I want from them! A freakin clue about whats wrong with my book!!!!!!!! Does it need more SEX? Is it too good? Horribly written?? Please! I read all the time ......and I can't believe my book is that bad! It's not some bogus novel.....some cheezy story I made up! It's non-fiction - narrative. Everyone I talk to about the book says "Oh, thats interesting. I'd buy that book." BUT - no agent will help me!!!!!!

I'm starting to just get mad. My book has almost 400 double spaced pages to it. I can't keep absorbing the expense of printing it out and mailing it. Should I just burn the thing and shoot myself?

An agent who has an editor to pass things along to?!?!?! This would terrify me. I'd definitely stay away from that one. That's a run, don't walk case if ever I heard one.

Sadly, agents aren't in the critiquing business, and can't afford to be. And shouldn't be. They're slow enough already. Taking time to provide feedback to more than a tiny fraction of what comes in would slow them down beyond human endurance. To critique something, an agent would have to read it all the way through. This doesn't happen very often. An agent or editor reads only until they find a reason to stop reading, and more often than not, they stop simply because they don't like what they're reading, or just lose interest. They get bored. "I didn't like it" or "I didn't think it was very good," or "I doubt anyone would buy it," or "It bored me," is really all they could say, and it's what they do say with a form rejection slip.

In truth, most of the time an agent would have no clue what to tell you is wrong. It isn't what's wrong an agent looks for, it's what's right. You have to read in a very different manner to see what's wrong. To see what's right all that's necessary is that you enjoy reading from page first to page last.

If only very minor things are wrong, if a novel shows promise, or the writer behind it shows promise, and if you're submitting to good agents or editors, you will get feedback nearly every time. When a book has only minor problems, the agent or editor will read it all the way through, and will pick up on the minor problems in a sort of behind the scenes way.

But neither an agent nor an editor can provide feedback on everything that comes in. It just isn't possible or productive. Not receiving any feedback at all is serious feedback in a very real way.

And, really, if you can't tell yourself what's wrong, you need to find a couple of reliable beta readers who can tell what's wrong before you submit it to an agent or editor. Yours aren't doing a proper job or you would be receiving at least some feedback from agents.

Talking to people about the book doesn't mean anything. Even a fascinating subject can be written in a poor or boring manner. The greatest subject ever thought of can be written about so horribly that no one would read it. Nonfiction can be as bad, or far worse, than any novel. Nonfiction can be God-awful in every possible way. Either the agents you're submitting it to believe the book is bad, your writing is bad, or there's simply no market for the subject matter. Rejections pretty much always come because of these three reasons. If they believe the book is well-written, but that it has no market, they'll usually say so and ask you to try something else.

No agent or editor ever has or ever will reject a book they believe is well-written, and that people will buy.

maestrowork
04-23-2005, 05:29 AM
An agent's job is to sell her clients' work, schmooze with the editors, and all the other things she has to do to for her clients. Then maybe she has some time left to go through queries. Hundreds of them. She might pick one or two to request material. But when they arrive, they go to the pile. She probably has over 20 in the pile...

Just because you send her YOUR ms asap via express mail doesn't mean you are the ONLY thing on her plate. Be realist! She doesn't work for you, and she's not sitting at her desk waiting for reading materials. If you can't understand that, I don't know how you can ever work with an agent if you do get one one day... the world does not revolve around you and your ms. You are just one of the hundreds who query her.

Their time is devoted mostly to their existing clients. Some of them only take on 1 or 2 new clients a year. So good luck demanding their time corresponding to YOU.

And no, agents don't have to tell you what is wrong with your ms. All they are obligated to is a "yay" or "nay." Like James said, they're not in the crit business. They don't owe you anything.

Publishing is a SLOW business. If you can't understand or stand it, I think you might want to consider another career choice.

If perseverance is a MUST for a writer, I think you're failing the test.

(sorry to sound harsh, here. But you're not the only writer who must endure this process. Those who wait tough it out. Those who don't fail. It's really that simple.)

eldragon
04-23-2005, 07:35 PM
but let's say you have a book that's written on a timely subject .....for instance.....it's about John Kerry and it's election year. Do you just sit back and wait and wait? NO! You can't!

My book has to do with a television reality show - and the agent I am talking about requested it because she liked the show and my idea, and she said.. the first half of my book.

It's not like I am writing about a turtle who met a bumblebee. This thing is more timely.

Plus - this agent sent me a copy of an email she sent to someone the same day she requested two copies of my manuscript. It said:


Kathy,

As you know PCG Publishing is not just an African-American only publishing
company. Our goal is to publish books by great writers.

I have listed PCG Publishing with many services for writers. What do you
think of this project listed below? I saw the show (__) a couple of times
and it was good. The lady who sent in this first chapter worked at The
_____ where they actually tape the show ____. Let me know what
you think. I like the story.




I don't know who she sent the email to .....or why she sent me a copy.

eldragon
04-23-2005, 07:42 PM
Another thing .....I am an avid reader, and have been for over 25 years. It's not uncommon for me to read 3 books a week. I'm no stranger at the library, the bookstores and the thrift stores - shopping for more books. Plus, I sell books online to make money.

Do you know how many terrible, boring books are out there? Just hideous! Badly written - stupid and more.

I'm not an accomplished or expert writer, but I am a very experienced reader.

I know my book is as good as most of it. With some help, it could be better. I don't think there is a book out there that didn't require editorial assistance, unless it was self published and you can see the obvious mistakes.


Go to the nearest bookstore and head to any section of books - pick one up and start reading it. Chances are, it's awful. Just like movies, it seems like everyone wants to read about raunchy, stupid sex. I have had a few people ask me to put more sex in my book. Well, its not about sex! And if I'm writing about other people and wasn't actually there in the room .....how do I know what kind of things they did together? So, I'm supposed to add all the raunchy trysts and escapades I had - just to sell the book?

Torgo
04-28-2005, 11:42 PM
Don't bother trying to get an agent - send it to publishers. When you get an offer, getting an agent will be easy.

brinkett
04-28-2005, 11:53 PM
Many publishers no longer accept unagented submissions.

Torgo
04-29-2005, 01:55 AM
Many others do... it's still the path of least resistance.

brinkett
04-29-2005, 04:22 AM
Perhaps, but not the smartest way to approach it.

Submitting to large houses that do accept unsolicited submissions can take months, even more than a year, per house. You can spend that time querying agents instead.

Let's say you give yourself a year to find an agent and it doesn't pan out. In that time, it's quite possible that you wouldn't have heard back from the first large house you submitted your manuscript to.

What you want an agent for is to (a) speed up the submissions process, and (b) submit your work to places you can't.

Torgo
04-29-2005, 01:44 PM
This is all perfectly true - but I'm not convinced that it substantially increases your manuscript's chances of publication...

brinkett
04-29-2005, 03:49 PM
On that we agree. :) And thanks for hanging around here. Your insider view is much appreciated.

Torgo
04-29-2005, 04:49 PM
Glad to be of service! It's certainly an interesting board.

Julie Worth
04-30-2005, 09:14 PM
I don't have the mental energy to chase them down.

Yes, I understand. Thatís why Iím hiring muscle to go out there and find those agents. A few broken legs, once the word gets around that authors are playing hardball, and this whole problem will go away.

eldragon
05-06-2005, 04:58 AM
I took the advice to try publishing houses instead of agents ....sent two queries last week ( I belong to firstwriter.com - for $2.99 a month, you get all addresses, links to websites ..everything - from agents to publishers).

Anyway - I sent two out last week - two out this week. Depending on what they want - first chapter, first three chapters, query only, synopsis, outline, ect.


One of the two I sent last week - called me on the phone yesterday. An assistant editor. She liked the first chapter and the idea, left her name and number.

I called her back this morning, and again, she told me liked it - could she see the whole thing (was it finished?) SURE IS! She said "it looks large, you can send it by email if you want." Are you kidding? YIPPEE!

She acknowledged the receipt, and said she'd be in touch. Gave me info about the company - ADAMS MEDIA Corp - a medium to large publishing house.

There website sounds good - they do paperback trade books - I actually have, in my possession, a book published by them.

So, I am crossing my fingers. And, I told her I would appreciate any criticism. And, believe me ......I will. I'll rewrite the whole thing over ten more times if I have to.

SRHowen
05-07-2005, 06:08 AM
Don't bother trying to get an agent - send it to publishers. When you get an offer, getting an agent will be easy.

Not so, it took me 4 months to find my agent. I'd sent a previous work to 20 or 30 publishers over the course of 2 years--no dice.

And an "offer" from a publisher does not always = getting an agent easy. You still have to find an agent who likes your work and matches up with you. Publishers and agents do not want one trick puppies.

And if you have shopped the ms to publishers and not found it a home, then you have used up a good chunk of the publishers that an agent could have sent it to. (assuming that once you used up your resources you try to get or get an agent) And you may be getting rejected due to some flaw in the ms that a rewrite (one a good agent will see and help you correct) once fixed would land that publisher.

And don't expect any more feedback from publishers than agents. I got some feedback here and there, just as I did with the agents I sent to before I signed on with mine.

As an unknown writer sending to publishers you have one shot at each publisher--the slush pile. And agent can send to several editors at the publishing houses, they know the different editors and what they want. If your agent is a good one, then your ms goes right to the editor, not the slush.

Either way--when you turn in a job application you don't expect feedback on why you didn't get the job. They didn't call you, or you got an interview and you got the, "We'll be in contact with you" line and never hear back.

You don't get a phone call or a letter that says:

Hey, we didn't want to hire you because your tie was crooked, your aftershave made me gag, and by the way that big yellow tongue stud is an eye sore. Oh, but I liked your command of English, and your outgoing style--it just wasn't enough. Sorry, better luck else where.

We would laugh at such an idea--so why do writers expect feedback from agents and or publishers?

Jamesaritchie
05-07-2005, 09:18 PM
Don't bother trying to get an agent - send it to publishers. When you get an offer, getting an agent will be easy.

First, what I'm about to say is a bit truer for novels than for nonfiction, but only a bit more.

Unless you want your novel published with a very small publisher, submitting to publishers before getting an agent is nearly always the worst possible way of selling anything. And your odds aren't good at the small publishers, either. In fact, they're horrible.

It's also a mistake to think that because a publisher will look at unagented manuscripts that they also buy them. More often than not, a williness to look at manuscripts from writers without agents is for publicity, rather than because the publisher has any intent of buying one.

There are several publishers who accept unagented manuscripts, but they haven't actually bought one in years and years. Often in decades. They just don't need to buy them.

Put yourself in the editor's shoes. Just to use round numbers, let's say he's in charge of a line that publishes 100 novels per year. This means he's receiving at least 1,000 novels, maybe more, maybe a LOT more, from agents. He will nearly always find his 100 novels among these agented novels. He has no reason at all to even think about buying from the slush pile, and odds are high he wouldn't go near the slush pile personally if you doubled his salary.

This is the other thing. When you submit a novel without an agent, it's almost certain it will be read by the lowest person on the totem pole, if it's read at all. This person's job is seldom to find a good novel, but to keep the slush pile down to a manageable size. His job is to reject, and he can find a dozen reasons to reject something before he's read page one.

There are always exceptions, but selling a novel without an agent is the closest thing to hitting the lottery that you'll ever do.

And, in all honesty, it's much easier to get a good agent than it is to sell a novel without an agent. If you can't write something that will make an agent say yes, why should anyone believe you can write something that will make an editor say yes? Editors know this, and it's one of the biggest reasons very few editors really even consider items from the slush pile.

eldragon
05-07-2005, 09:27 PM
My book is non-fiction - a memoir.


All I can say is, I've had run-around from agents. "Send me two copies of your manuscript." Sure, no problem. My book is almost 400 pages. Taking the discs to Office Depot and copying them ....X 2, = $20. Now add postage.

Your only contact is via email. They only have to answer you if they feel like it, and they usually stop feeling like it pretty quick. They can block you.

I sent material to 4 publishers in two weeks. I have been rejected by one, with a handwritten note. And, the other one called me on the phone to request my manuscript. I have a name and a phone number.

Nothing may come of it, but for now, this is the way I'm going.

Jamesaritchie
05-07-2005, 09:31 PM
I really do understand the desire for feedback, but even after all these years it still strikes me as odd that a writer would expect feedback from an agent or editor as a matter of course.

Anyone who believes this should sit on the other side of the desk for a few months. I've never met anyone who switched sides of the desk who didn't change their mind about feedback almost on the spot.

In truth, if the agent or editor really sees potential in your work, you almost certainly will receive some feedback. If, on the other hand, the agent or editor sees no potential in your work, odds are only a few pages were read.

And form rejections really are high quality feeback.

Even discounting all the other very good reasons for not providing feedback, the big reason is simply that it isn't the job of an agent or editor to tell you anything. The job of an agent or editor is to find good, marketable novels. Period. And they can do this perfectly well without trying to tell all the writers out there why their novel is neither good nor marketable.

Expecting feedback from an agent or editor is just wanting them to do your job.

If agents and editors think you write well enough, if they see real potential in your writing, you almost certainly will receive feedback. If not, then it's your job to find feedback on your own from realistic sources.

And, again, most of the feedback writers would get would be nothing useful. Most would simply have to say, "I read page one and it just didn't hook me," or "I read a few pages and it just didn't draw me in," or "I did manage to read all the way to the end, but, sorry, I just don't think it will sell."

And if they reject your work, you should already have this much figured out.

eldragon
05-07-2005, 09:35 PM
The rejection I got from Academy Chicago Publishers is a form rejection with a handwritten note that says : this is interesting but I'm afraid not quite we are looking for, good luck..AM.



The same person wrote my name and title of the book on the slip, so I'm sure it was handwritten.


"Interesting" is a good word. It's better than "boring." Or, "stupid."

eldragon
05-07-2005, 09:37 PM
I have seen publisher's submission guidelines that say manuscripts usually don't get read for 4-6 months.


Amazing to me that the world is full of so many books.

Torgo
05-09-2005, 02:57 PM
If you can't write something that will make an agent say yes, why should anyone believe you can write something that will make an editor say yes? Editors know this, and it's one of the biggest reasons very few editors really even consider items from the slush pile.



I guess I'm one of those few editors...

The slushpile is a valuable resource. Now, it's true that your chances of finding something that is even half good are very, very slim, and that's even after we have had people thin the pile down by weeding out the obvious ones. We might find something that we can work with in the pile, say, once every two to three years. Still - at least in my experience - anything half good will be seen by a professional editor.

I don't necessarily take something more seriously because an agent has sent it to me; I don't want to use agents as the filter for our submissions. I disagree that getting an offer is like hitting the lottery - the chances for a really good manuscript, whether through the slush or through an agent, are a thousand times better than the majority of submissions. Finding a good MS in the slush is like hitting the lottery, but if as a publisher you ignore it you're cutting off an interesting channel for finding new authors. The trick is to manage the slush intelligently.

I'm sorry if it's becoming the general rule that submissions have to be agented. It probably would save me work for a while, but I'd certainly feel that I'd contracted out my judgement to someone to someone who didn't necessarily share the interests of the firm.



Even discounting all the other very good reasons for not providing feedback, the big reason is simply that it isn't the job of an agent or editor to tell you anything. The job of an agent or editor is to find good, marketable novels. Period. And they can do this perfectly well without trying to tell all the writers out there why their novel is neither good nor marketable.


That's exactly right.

eldragon
05-09-2005, 07:25 PM
So, Torgo?

How does the slush pile form? Is it unsolicited manuscripts?

Are there queries in the slush pile?

If someone asks for more information, does your manuscript get read quicker, if so ......who is watching for that to come in the mail?

Also ....... what if there is a slush pile, and 3 people randomly choose items to read from it. What if one person likes a certain style of writing, and another likes a different style....... is there only once chance for the manuscript to be liked?



Everything is so subjective....just wondering. What may sound like a good idea to you might not sound like a good idea to me.


Just curious how its done.

Torgo
05-09-2005, 09:13 PM
Yeah, it is pretty subjective, and I'm sure the process varies from house to house.

The slush pile is all the unsolicited manuscripts, including some agented manuscripts from agents we've never heard of. There are queries in the slush pile, which is irritating, because then we have to answer a query AND respond to a manuscript, rather than just the latter. We much prefer telephone queries to the company receptionist, who has all the submission guidelines - they're also on the website.

Manuscripts do get read in roughly the order they arrive, and there's nothing that really alters that. If we write back to ask for anything, the editor provides his or her name so that we can pick it up more quickly. (Unsolicited MSs addressed by name to editors go straight to the pile.)

Regarding style... well, there are certain eds who like particular genres more than others, and we know each others' taste well enough to pass things to the person who will give it the fairest hearing. Style is a lot harder, but if there's any doubt about whether to reject something it usually gets passed to another ed for a second opinion. Most of the time, there really isn't any doubt at all.

eldragon
05-09-2005, 09:31 PM
So, just a guess, but would you say you reject more submissions for being poorly written, or because the story stinks?


I'm just trying to figure out what my competition is.

Also, how much re-writing does a project usually need after its accepted? And, have you ever taken on a project that you felt had potential, but needed lots of work by the author to get it shaped up?


And so, do you accept projects based more on skill of writing, or story?

Torgo
05-09-2005, 09:59 PM
That's hard to answer. Most often it's both. Of the rest, we probably reject more good stories that are badly written than bad stories that are well written. The latter are more likely to get some encouraging feedback.

Occasionally, we pay a development fee to a new author with a good story that needs lots of work on the writing, but we'd want to be thinking more in terms of structure than a complete overhaul of the author's ability to write it.

The main thing to remember is that your competition is the published list and not the slushpile. (That might not be the case for something like a short-fiction magazine, though - your mileage may vary.) We want to be pretty sure that anything we take on is going to be able to hold its head up among all the other books we publish.

Lauri B
05-10-2005, 05:56 PM
[QUOTE=Jamesaritchie]First, what I'm about to say is a bit truer for novels than for nonfiction, but only a bit more.

Unless you want your novel published with a very small publisher, submitting to publishers before getting an agent is nearly always the worst possible way of selling anything. And your odds aren't good at the small publishers, either. In fact, they're horrible.

It's also a mistake to think that because a publisher will look at unagented manuscripts that they also buy them. More often than not, a williness to look at manuscripts from writers without agents is for publicity, rather than because the publisher has any intent of buying one.

There are several publishers who accept unagented manuscripts, but they haven't actually bought one in years and years. Often in decades. They just don't need to buy them.


Hi all,
I can't comment on fiction publishers, and I'm definitely of the small nonfiction variety. However I think James' comments are way too generalized. Most nonfiction books sold to small and medium-sized publishers are done so without agents. Ask around the boards--you just don't need an agent to sell a nonfiction manuscript. I also disagree (or maybe just don't understand) the comment that publishers look at unagented manuscripts only for publicity--what did you mean by that? True, we've only published a few manuscripts from the slush pile, but they have been good sellers and are good books. The good stuff in the slush pile is very, very apparent--it's not like you'll have a hundred manuscripts to read through and have to weigh carefully which one you like the most over the other 99 terrific ones. It's usually that there are 70 that are just dreadful, and you have to go through the 30 not-dreadful ones to see which 1 or 2 might work.

eldragon
05-10-2005, 11:11 PM
Can you be more specific about what you consider "dreadful?'


I'm curious.


Also .....does one person make a decision about taking on a book ....or does it need approval by several people?

eldragon
05-11-2005, 04:37 PM
Bad grammar (by in-house standards): 80%
Bad grammar (by everyday standards): 30%
Little or no stories: 20%
Unoriginal stories: 60%
Original but bad stories: 10%
Good, original stories, but badly written: 9%
Inappropriate submissions: 5%
Insane people: 5%
Depressing submissions: 75%
Amusing submissions: 10%
Submissions we might like to take further: 1%


Thanks Torga! You already answered it in another post.

Lauri B
05-11-2005, 09:47 PM
In our case, we have an editorial board and we all have to agree in order to take on a book.

eldragon
05-12-2005, 12:39 AM
I feel sick to my stomach, another rejection today, and my highest hope for being published...doesn't look good.

My husband's out of town, has been for 3 weeks. My kids are horrible. One daughter has two screaming kids inside - the other daughter has two screaming kids outside.

I have to go to a freaking school event in a few hours.


The rejection is killing me. I know that, given a chance, my book would sell.

The editor I was hoping would accept my book, says she likes it, but has to convince the rest of the group. But she also said she wasn't sure it would fit with their ......whatever.

A canned response, much like the form rejection letters you get.


The worst thing is, my book is on a subject thats hot right now .....and if someone else gets the idea and prints first ........I'm shot.