One Writer’s Journey

May 12, 2017

Agents and/or Editors

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:00 am
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When you are shopping your work around to agents, do you cease and desist sending it to editors?

Yesterday, I read a post on Janet Reid’s blog about Twitter pitch events.  In her post, Reid discusses the fact that she was out with a group of agents.  One of them mentioned contacting an author whose manuscript she had only to discover that said author had some interest from editors based on a Twitter Pitch.   Based on said interest, she had sent them the manuscript.  All agents present sighed deeply.

What the heck?  Do they expect us to sit on our duffs while we wait for one of them to snatch up our manuscript?

Sadly enough, that about sums it up.  If you are submitting your work to agents, they would very much prefer that you not also submit it to editors.  Why?  Because if you sent it to Betty Boop, senior editor at Lotsa Books, and she turns it down, the agent cannot then send it to Mata Hari, editorial director at that same publisher.  Never mind that this agent knows for a fact that Ms. Hari has been looking for just this sort of manuscript all along and that Ms. Boop is more interested in author/illustrators than authors.  It just doesn’t matter.  By sending in your own manuscript, you’ve crossed this publisher off the list.

Does this mean that I’m not sending any of my work to publishers at this time?

Most of what I send out isn’t the sort of thing an agent is going to represent anyway.  I’m submitting more to magazines right now but also doing work for hire.  If I see a publisher that is beyond perfect and it is a smaller niche publisher that is open to slush submissions anyway, then I might send it in.

And, on that note, I need to get my work out to another two or three agents.  If for no other reason — I’m getting sick of not submitting to editors.



October 15, 2013

My Work Is So Much Better, Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:21 am
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don't submit“My work is so much better.”  It’s one of those things that writers say all the time.  Often they follow this statement up with something like “. . . so I am going to send this publisher my work.  It would be a huge improvement for them.”

If you find yourself saying this, stop!   Do not submit to this particular publisher.

The reality is that you should submit your writing only to publishers whose  work you love.  Did you hear me?  LOVE.  That’s why it’s important to read the work of any publisher you are considering, whether it is a magazine or book publisher.

If you like the style of your work better . . . this publisher is not a good match for your work.

If you think your work is less biased . . . this publisher is not a good match for your work.

If your work is either less preachy or teaches a better message . . . this publisher is not a good match for your work.

In short, if you cannot wholeheartedly recommend the magazine or the books, do not send them your work because it is not a good fit.  Editors don’t generally takes a manuscript because it is good enough until something better comes along.  They publish manuscripts that they believe their readers will LOVE.

You too should find a love match before you send them your work.


October 10, 2013

How to Make a Good First Impression

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:13 am
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Dont' PanicOn November 2, I’m going to be answering questions for new writers at the Missouri SCBWI Fall Conference.  It’s one of those things that I always volunteer to do because newbies are eager, excited and sometimes just a little intimidated when it comes to asking questions.

What is the biggest piece of advice that I offer them?  Follow instructions.

When an editor asks for no more than 500 words, that’s what you submit.  500 words at the most.

When a publisher says that they don’t want writing on a given topic, don’t send it.  Send what they do want instead.

Sometimes the directions will seem a little off because they are simply different than what everyone else wants.  Some editors want you to indicate the page breaks in a picture book manuscript and actually ask for illustration suggestions.  It doesn’t happen often, and I always pinch myself to make sure I’m awake, but it does happen.

Follow the instructions.  That’s why they’re there.

Sometimes there will be something that isn’t in the instructions.  There’s nothing you can do about that.  But you can, and should, follow the instructions that they give you.  It will put you way ahead of the people who single space their 5000 word romantic paranormal picture book for 12 year-olds.  Why?  Because they obviously did not  follow the instructions.



September 19, 2013

Response Times: Waiting for the Yea or Nay

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:11 am
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response timesWhat do you do while you are waiting to hear about a submission?  Are you one of those writers who knows to the day when the three months is up?  Here are three reasons that I hope the answer is no.

Most successful writers have multiple projects in the works.  They have several things under submission and something else on their desk.  To achieve this, you have to send something out and get to work on the next item in your queue.

You will handle the rejections and bumps better.  If you have several things under submission and something else that you are writing when you here back, you are less likely to fall to pieces if the answer is no.  Focusing on only one submission is like putting all of your hopes and dreams in one basket.  Instead, give yourself multiple opportunities to succeed.

You are less likely to become desperate.  Watch the writers you know who have everything staked on one particular manuscript.  If that manuscript is rejected, they become desperate.  They have to get this piece out there whatever the cost.  There’s no telling what contract you’ll sign when that’s how you’re reasoning.

Instead, get your manuscript ready to go.  Write the “send to next publisher” date on your calendar.  Then turn your focus to something else.  Let this project absorb the energy you would otherwise put into obsessing about the first submission.  Before you know it, you’ll have a yea or a nay and another manuscript to submit besides.


August 5, 2013

What Editors Want

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:19 am
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SubmissionFriday, I posted a humorous Youtube video on how not to approach an editor.  The sad thing is that this does happen.  Okay, maybe not a woman stalking a male editor in the restroom but writers do approach editors in the restroom.  Here’s a hint:  Not a great way to make a good impression.  But there are things that you can do that will make a good impression.

  1. Know What They Publish.  One of the best ways to rise above the slush is to know both what this publisher publishes but also what this editor wants.  A publisher who wants nature nonfiction, won’t want a novel even if it takes place in the great outdoors.  There is also a matter of knowing which editor loves historical fiction and which one wants stories for boys.  Google to the rescue.  Google your target editor and read all of the interviews and market listings you can find.
  2. Know the Conventions.  You’ve found a publisher who takes fantasy picture books, now make sure your manuscript falls within expected norms.  You need to know what makes a manuscript a picture book manuscript.  Read picture books.  Read how-tos.  Find information on length, vocabulary and audience.  Then make certain your work meets these standards.  If you send a publisher a 15 page picture book manuscript, it is going to be rejected.
  3. Proof Your Work.  It sounds like a no brainer but apparently it is a step that a lot of people skip.  In reading publishers’ web sites and blogs, I’ve seen this mentioned more than once.  Proof.  If your work is riddled with errors, they aren’t going to buy it.  They probably won’t even read it.
  4. Know What Has Been Published.  If you want to write picture books or young adult novels, you need to be reading new picture books and young adult novels.  These are the books that are your story’s competition.  Is your story ready to stand against in the big boys?  If so, send it in.

Do your homework and give your work a fighting chance.  Editors want to find fantastic stories.  For some tips on approaching editors at writing events, see my post yesterday at the Muffin.


May 28, 2010

Rejection Letters R-Us

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:50 am
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The other day I was reading various blogs and came across Nathan Bransford’s post, “Every Writer Gets Rejected.”   He wrote about the age old party game that we writers like to play, “Did You Hear How Many Times X Award-Winning-Novel Was Rejected?’  These discussions always fascinate me as well as give me hope.  If Dr. Seuss and J.K. Rowling and Jane Yolen get rejected, than I’m in great company!  So I was more than a little surprised when Bransford wrote that many writers use this type of discussion to show that the current publishing system is broken.


Sure, I think that every now and again when I get rejected.  After all, my marketing strategies are brilliant, so if they are rejecting me when I send them a manuscript that is clearly perfect for them . . . clearly the system needs help.  Eventually, I come to my senses and realize that my rejections mean no more or less than those everyone else receives.  Not right here, not right now.  Try again.

When the big names (both authors and books) get rejected, it really doesn’t make me think conspiracy or even about a need for massive change in how publishing works.  It just makes me think about how subjective publishing is.  Even a great book isn’t perfect for every editor.  Depending on the day of the week and the phase of the moon, a book that might be perfect for Editor A on Monday won’t be on Friday.  It is simply a matter of having your work in the right place at the right time.

Hard to do, yes.  But, not impossible.

So, did you hear how many times Harry Potter was rejected?


January 15, 2009

Marketing Your Manuscript: Study the Catalogs Online

If you’ve started submitting your work, you probably know that you need to study the publisher’s catalog.  What’s new?  Who do they work with?  What gets the most buzz?  

While some of these things are just as easy to find online (new books) as they are in a print catalog, some aren’t.  What books got a two page spread?  A excerpt?  Have a special marketing packet planned?   For these you need to see the catalog. 

Fortunately, more and more  publishers are putting virtual catalogs online.  The trick is knowing where to find them. 

Along comes Early Word (  Technically, their audience is librarians and their goal is to make researching acquisitions easier.  To do this, they pull together information about new releases from various publishers and this information includes catalogs.  When you visit the page for a particular catalog list, just remember to scroll down the list to the children’s catalogs.  For Spring 2009, I checked out Feiwel & Friends, Henry Holt and Square Fish.  There was a lot more but I need to head out in a bit.

I found out about Early Word through the 1/14 Children’s Writing Update which is put out by the publishers of CBI (the Children’s Book Insider).  Special thanks to them for all the information they bring to struggling writers!   They have a new site up and I’m looking forward to checking it out this afternoon.  Hope to see you there.


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