Thursday, June 29, 2006
Q & A 59 Can I break the rules?
Suppose you indicate in your submission guidelines that you prefer to receive a complete manuscript. A hapless author, realizing that would mean consigning her ms. to 8 exclusive months in your office, sends you a query, short synopsis, and 5pp sample instead. (Which, of course, she also sends simultaneously to all your competitors.)
Do you fly into a rage and blacklist the author for not following directions? Do you understand her pathetic attempt to cut down unneccesary wait time, grit your teeth, and read the query? Or do you send her a silent thanks for not shouldering you with 200 more pages of purpleish prose?
You being you, I assume that all three paths end in rejection. I'd just like to prevent the four-month wait between "no"s.
Make a list of every publisher or agent that handles what you write. Put the ones that want an 8-month exclusive at the bottom of the list. Put the ones that take simultaneous submissions and respond in a week at the top. Most of your list will be in the middle. If you don't want to work with those at the bottom, tear the list at your cutoff point and throw the bottom half away. Feel good about it. Who do they think they are?
Now you have a list of those whose terms you can tolerate. Tolerate them.
Don't submit to all of them at once--you may decide tomorrow that what you're submitting is crap, and you'll want some options open after you fix it.
Posted by Evil Editor at 5:06 PM