Just Tell Me What You Want!

A friend very kindly suggested that my last post could turn off potential agents or publishers.  She’s probably right.  I thought about taking it down, but decided to let it stand.  There are bullies and manipulators in the publishing business and quite frankly, I have no stomach for them.  I wouldn’t be happy working with them, and they certainly wouldn’t be happy working with me.

On the other hand, an agent or publisher who wants a writer who works hard, meets deadlines, and is fiercely self-disciplined would have no problem with me at all.  I guess it’s all about perception.  If an agent or publisher describes the ideal writer in terms of a doormat, we just aren’t suited for one another.  Move along, folks; there’s nothing to see here.

Several people commented that they’d never seen submission guidelines that read like a request for an essay.  Here’s one, though it isn’t as bad as some others I’ve seen but can’t find right now (I probably threw them in the trash where they belong):

“Include credentials, intended audience/market; description of book, how does it benefit readers, and how does it differ from other books.”

Which brings me to another pet peeve about submission guidelines in which the company is very clear about what they don’t want but a little fuzzy on what they do want (mind you, this is a publisher of books for young children):

“No animal stories, concept books, folk tales, fairy tales, myths, legends, books in series format, novelties, fantasy, science fiction, or horror.”

We are talking about kids here, right?

Ok, I get the part about horror.

This publisher says it will accept “select fiction”.  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!

I wish everyone would just lighten up.  We’re talking about stories.  Made up people, places, and situations.  Make believe.  We’re not designing launch switches for missile silos. I’m sorry if you don’t like the font.  I’m sorry if I sent the manuscript to you in the waning phase of the moon on a Tuesday in a month ending in “r”.  I’m sorry you don’t like where I placed the page numbers.  I’m sorry your guidelines were anything but.

Just read the story.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mlrover
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 10:07:47

    Loved this. The always uphill climb of being a writer is so draining. When I used to do book events, I got totally boggled by attendees with the belief that the job of being a writer was glamorous. (I heard that snort of derision.)


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