It must be something in the air. There has to be.
I should warn you, this is a rant, but at the same level, it is designed to not simply let me vent, but to continue to guide people down the pathway toward publishing.
Over the last several weeks, I have seen an increasing trend toward people submitting manuscripts to Greyhaus Literary Agency that fall into two categories. Either they are submitting stories that don’t fit what I am looking for, or do so and then reply after receiving a rejection that they believed their writing was somehow different. In the past, I used to receive something like this, maybe once a month. But lately, I am talking about submissions that are numbering up to 10 a day. I can’t take it anymore!
Let’s start with submitting stories that don’t fit the house or agent. This really is an easy one, but yes, it does take work on your part. Your life is even easier with the rise of internet presence of the editors and agent. It is up to you to get out there and research exactly what the individual is looking for. This means going to their website. READ. Yes, you have to READ and READ all of the information. It is there! I honestly think that some writers are simply clicking on some email link out there for the agent you are looking for, and submitting without reading anything. It has to be. Why else would I have people submit cookbooks, biographies, how-to books and children’s books to me when the information is right there on the website. REPRESENTING ROMANCE AND WOMEN’S FICTION. This does not mean that I specialize in that, but look at anything else. It means what it says. To add to this, there is information both posted directly on the website and in a “How To Submit” folder that walks a writer through all of the steps and the exact things I need.
But wait, there’s more, and this is the one that is really confusing me. Editors and agents do have guidelines as well for word count. At Greyhaus Literary Agency, it clearly states 75,000 words. This is also found on the submission guideline page and even more explicitly on the ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM. And still, I have people using the form, who have to enter their word count in a box, next to the space that says a story has to be 75,000 words with word counts as low as 20,000. Arrrgggghhhh!!!!!! I even had someone this last week insert in their query how sites such as St. Martins and Ballantine don’t have word counts so it must mean they are open to everything. Huh? These are single title houses.
And then there are those that seem to think their writing is the exception. This one floors me but here is the scenario. Someone submits a story that is not the genre I represent, such as a historical non-fiction story about their grandmother. I reply back that this is not what I want, and yet, they still reply to that. The comment I get is, “I did go to your website and saw that you only represented romance and women’s fiction, but I assumed you would be so blown away by my story that you would open your mind and expand your horizons.” What? This is like going to a Chinese restaurant and ordering Mexican food because you felt the restaurant should expand their line. Hey people, we won’t do it.
Here’s another one. I had someone Tweet me about 2 weeks ago wondering how they were to submit a project to me. O.K. so the first question I had running through my head is why not research that person and not rely on a Tweet, but I will skip that part. I told the person to check out the website (which I did give in the Re-Tweet). I told this person that if they felt their project was something I was looking for, then they should submit. They did and they used the Online Form…
They submitted a non-fiction story about their recent missionary trip…
And they marketed it as a Contemporary…
O.K. I understand it has to be contemporary since it happened in the last several years, but I am really missing the rest of it.
Editors get the same thing. Many single title houses clearly state that stories can not be submitted without an agent. I just went to the Random House Publishing site and found how to submit to them. It took me 30 seconds to do this and here is the direct quote:
How do I submit my manuscript to Random House?
Like most big publishers, Random House only accepts manuscripts submitted by an agent--the volume of materials we receive is just too large to accept unsolicited submissions.
So, does this mean you can still submit to them without an agent? Um, no! I don’t care if you think your story is the next Great American Novel, so don’t! And if you do, please don’t run around and tell everyone your book is in consideration at Random House, or that you received a rejection from them. If you get any response, you are dang lucky.
Now, I will admit that there are some agents out there that are really vague in terms of what they acquire. In my case, I try not to be, but yes, there are those that it is a bit confusing. In those cases, you have to dig deeper. Ask questions. Email them and ask if they represent your genre. If they don’t then you are done with them. Deal with it and move on. And yes, if you find that no one will take your 20,000 word manuscript on Chinese History and the use of hot peppers, then maybe this is telling you something about your book!
O.K. I think I can go get a cup of coffee now.
Scott C. Eagan