Wednesday, May 11, 2016

There Are No Hidden Secrets With Submissions

Over the last several days, I have received a couple of questions from authors regarding submissions. I get these all of the time so answering quick questions are not a major issue. What concerned me with many of these questions seemed to be a belief that there were secrets to submissions, or even ways around submissions.

First of all, let me say that the vast majority of editors and agents have very clear submission guidelines. They tell you:

  1. What they are looking for.
  2. What they like and don't like.
  3. What they like to see in a submission.
  4. How much time it will take for a reply. 
  5. How to submit material and where to submit the material
  6. (and for publishers) What they will read and not read, especially in the case of unagented submissions.
And yet, we get questions that leave us wondering if the author read the submission guidelines or if they are thinking we are hiding something from them. We aren't if you just look at the information and take the time to read what the editor or agent has put out there for you.

One author sent me a question through my Facebook account asking:

What's your submission process? (Yes I could look it up - I'd rather have a conversation so that, if for no other reason, My manuscript actually gets read and not put on the slush pile).

Again, that submission process is very clear on the website, had this person gone to the site. In this case, there seems to be this belief that there is a hidden process. I almost feel there is a belief that editors and agents are like those restaurants that have the "Hidden Menu" items like those you read about at Starbucks and the like. Here is one from Cosmopolitan: Cosmo Article . It doesn't work that way. Let me show you what I mean.

If you decide to submit a project to me at Greyhaus, you would go to the website and click on the "CONTACT GREYHAUS" link from the first page of the website.

Once there, you get a page that has the following information on it:

Scott can be contacted about speaking engagements, assistance with contests, workshops and blog posts. Please feel free to email him if you have any questions. 


Authors have three options for submitting material. Please make sure to follow the directions carefully. Do not give me a reason for rejecting you because you are not following the directions:

OPTION 1 - Send an email to [EMAIL ADDRESS HERE]. Send only a query letter within the body of the email. Do not send attachments. Do not send partials or full manuscripts embedded in the email. Do not send a synopsis embedded in the email. 

OPTION 2 - Use one of the two forms. There is one for authors wishing to submit category/series manuscripts and one for authors wishing to submit single title projects. The form is VERY clear. Include exactly what is asked for. Authors submitting category/series manuscripts should read the guidelines carefully for the line BEFORE SUBMITTING a project.

OPTION 3 - The old snail mail approach is fine. If you do this, please submit the following:
  • A query letter
  • The first three pages only
  • A three to five page synopsis
  • A SASE

For Option 2, there are two buttons right below this information.

So far, this seems to answer this person's question and I am trying to make this as easy to follow. But let me continue...

If you take the 2nd Option, you get a page that looks like this:

This is a "fill in the blank form" and also pretty easy to follow.

Should you fill in the form, this is what I see showing up in my email box:

There are no tricks here. You aren't being sent to some off-shore contractor who is sorting through the material. It goes straight to me. And yes, this type of a set-up is pretty common for a lot of other editors and agents out there. They might not use a form, but the submission process is the same.

In terms of this prior author's comment about "the slush pile" - the reality is, unless you personally pitch to an editor or agent at a conference, get a request from a contest, or get a referral from another professional, you are in "the slush pile." Sorry to break this one to you.

The point is pretty simple. Go to the website of the editor or agent you want to submit to. Read the guidelines, follow the directions and send what is being asked for. If you want to send your lyrical screenplay to someone, make sure they acquire that genre. If they don't, we aren't hiding things from you. And, if you do submit it, expect either no answer or a rejection.

The truth is simple. We want to read your stories. We want to find authors. We are not out to not find good authors. Just take the time to read. You might be shocked at what you find.

And one final note. If you are someone who thinks you can sneak in the "backdoor" the odds are you are looking at a rejection a lot quicker than if you send the story through the normal routes.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, good, practical advice. How I wish Greyhaus was interested in cozy mysteries. Even though that is not the case, I always find the advice here helpful.