The submission process is a funny thing. Today, I want to focus only on the written pitches. The face to face pitch process is a completely different matter and really, IMHO opens up a big bag of worms. So, let's start from the beginning and we will deal with my submisison process.
STEP 1 - THE QUERY - If you submit to me, you are asked to send a very small amount of material. For the e-query I only want the pitch. No synopsis, no partial, no nothing. For a snail mail query, I want that 3-5 page synopsis, and the first 3 pages only. In this case, I am simply looking at the basic premise of the story. You get to submit more material via snail mail since the turn around is a bit longer, but the idea is still the same. As I said, I am simply looking for the initial premise of the story. Is the over-all concept something that I think has some potential. For those sending the snail mail, I am also looking at the initial level of writing to see if the voice is heading in the right direction. If that initial premise looks, good, we are off to the next round.
STEP 2 - THE PARTIAL - If your premise looks good, I will often request a partial. In this case, the first three chapters only and the synopsis. It is generally at this point when the truth about the writing comes out and when that rejection occurs. There are several reasons here:
- The synopsis sends the story in a tail spin completely differet than the initial premise. Here I see writing that suddenly is filled with plot devices, plot lines that have no purpose, endings that never occur.
- The writing doesn't live up to the expection. There are some of you that can pitch a great story but the writing simply isn't what you pitched it as. You pitch it is epic and it reads like a chick-lit.
- The writer commits professional errors (all of those we have talked about). In other words, the writing might be fine, but how they send the material demonstrates they are far from ready to move on. This one really is a different issue.
Now, for those sending the snail mail queries, I can often see those mistakes early on with the synopsis and the partial. I have often read the cover letter and thought "Wow, this sounds good" and then read the partial and thought huh? I still went through the same process as above, I just left the writer out of the loop.
Writers need to know that we are not trying to drag you along in the process of things. There is simply a point when the writing has to live up to the standard you set. For this reason, I really recommend taking a lot of time with that query. Make sure you say what you want to say. Make it clear to the reader what you are proposing. The closer you can come to representing truly what you are writing, the better the chance it will move further along the process.