Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Submit One Story At A Time

There isn't a week that goes by when I receive multiple submissions of different projects from the same author. I do believe the author is trying to demonstrate he or she has a lot to offer an agent or editor, but unfortunately, this is probably hurting the author more in the long run. In simple terms, when submitting projects to editors or agents, submit only one at a time.

Consider this.

Editors and agents have a lot to read already. They are working with their current authors, authors just starting out, other editors and agents, marketing departments and so forth. In other words, there is a lot they are doing. Flooding their emails with a lot of submissions is not going to get them to read the projects any faster. On a second level, the odds are they will respond to the first one they see of you, and then assume you accidentally hit the "Send" button several times like we have all done. The assumption is they have already answered you so they won't see those other projects. Now this is just a small point. There is a stronger point here that benefits you as an author.

If you send just one project at a time, if the agent or editor passes on the project and hopefully gives you reasons why, you can make sure your later projects are fitting those guidelines as well. Let's say you submit a project to me and I respond back saying the balance of narration to dialogue is just not working. As I see it, the story is all dialogue and it lacks the depth I need. Now you go back to your second story and find you are doing the same thing. Had you sent them both to me, I would have rejected two stories for the same reason and the door is now closed. However, had you just sent one, gone back to the second one and made those changes, AND THEN in the query letter tell me what you learned from the first book and how you have made those changes in the second, I will likely take more notice. This tells us you can learn from your mistakes. Seeing this also means that maybe, if I sign the second book, we can always go back to the first one if that is all it took to fix it.

As I said earlier, I know a lot of authors do this to show us what else they have. There is nothing wrong with this but do it in a different fashion. You can simply state in the closing part of the query letter that you have additional books and then give us a log line that gives us a sense of the book. If you want to do a bit more, you can certainly provide a single page that gives us a 1 paragraph blurb (I'm talking 4 sentences roughly) for each of the books and the state they are in (Complete, 1/2 finished, outlined, etc.).

I say this often when it comes to query letter, or for that matter, any writing. You have to think of your writing from the perspective of the person reading it. What are they thinking? How would they respond?

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