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(Writing) submitting work to an editor

edited June 2010 in - Writing Tales
I know I've been down this route before but it was 'here we go again' this morning when I got into the office mailbox. There is a guy saying he wants to write regularly for my company, has given me a pen name (which I don 't like but still ...) a synopsis and the first three chapters, told me there are a lot more books to come, too.

OK, so there were typoes in the email for a start. Make allowances ... download synopsis and chapters -

- and I cannot open them. He has not thought about sending them in a universal format I can read. TEXT would have done for starters. But then, he didn't ask for the guidelines, either. I've sent them and asked for everything to come in a format I can open and read. If he had done that right off, my answer yes or no would have been with him this morning. Now it will be a 24 wait, IF he sends them in a way I can open.

Last week I had a very long email from someone outlining the three books he has written, they are a trilogy and he wants to place them. Can he start by sending me book 3. Sometimes I do have to wonder ...

Someone else wrote to tell me he has a blood and guts book of 90,000 words which he will be pleased to split into 3 if we want it ... which ignores the fact we want 40,000 words.

A package turned up, registered, all sorts, containing a manuscript carefully printed out in double spacing, the whole bit. I don't want paper submissions. I can't deal with paper submissions. How do I get it into the computer to turn it into a book if it is on paper? What was even more annoying was finding out the author is on line, he could have asked for the guidelines, saved all that paper and postage and simply emailed it to me as an attachment!!

All of this is as a result of writers not doing that simple thing, asking for guidelines. These were specific queries too, I am discounting the mass mailings which offer me Pulitzer prize winning short stories and the like ...


  • Inexperience again.
  • [quote=dorothyd] they are a trilogy and he wants to place them. Can he start by sending me book 3.[/quote]

  • The trouble is that these shortcomings show how uninformed and therefore how amateur these hopefuls are. I see myself as being in that position a while ago. When I think back to some of the efforts I submitted in the early stages... I think it happens a lot, and there must be a path, a route to follow, whereby your work eventually becomes viable and not a pain in the neck to an editor. For me it was reading about how to do it; including here at the heart of information: Talkback :) .
  • [quote=Carol]Inexperience again. [/quote]

    Absolutely. Also not reading guidelines - it must be annoying to keep seeing the same simple mistakes over and over, Dorothy.
  • It is! We've just posted on our site the 100th book from one author. He started as an amateur, he has never gone anywhere else, just sits there in Australia somewhere and churns out the books. All of them sell, too. He gets royalties every month. But ... when he started, he asked for the guidelines and has worked to them ever since. I wish some of the others would think before they send.
  • Slightly off topic, but I was wondering ... How are your books purchased? pdf documents?
  • we sell them as pdfs and in hard copy. Either/or. I printed 10 this morning, ordered through the post.
  • Thanks for giving us all the view from the other side dorothyd. We are all often too busy slagging off publishers and agents when it could be our fault. Like Dwight I shudder to think how some of my early submissions were and it was reading about faults made by others helped me get my act together. Hope you can send us some more examples of what to do, or not what to do.
    Incidentally maybe the bloke wanting to send book 3 wants it to be like Star Wars when books 1 and 2 are prequels?
  • I think he had turned them into 'stand alone's but I would still have preferred book 1 if poss, even stand alones have references back to the earlier books which are often confusing to the reader.

    Basic advice, keep within the word count of the publisher. I've mentioned it before, we take 40,000 words. Someone sent me a disc with a 90,000 word book on it, all in capital letters. As was the covering letter.

    Then there was the mauve handwritten note saying he wanted to write a book -

    The man in the South of England who told me that geniuses do not use computers or typewriters and he would be writing his work in longhand, as all great authors do. He has since sent me lengthy letters saying publishers do not understand him, they keep moving (he doesn't update his W&A obviously) and then sending me magazines with no covers, 'but I'm sure your customers will like them.' The latest is a Sept 2009 catalogue of ours, with envelope (ours) w8ith two cut out drawings of a lady/man ... and no letter.
  • something else. I asked this particular guy (the one who sent the work initially in a format I could not read) for a half decent pen name, not liking his one word description at all. I also mentioned that it would be a while before I could put the book out, as it needed one hell of a lot of work. ('She had a habit of waving her breasts in the faces of the seniors.' Got the immediate image of her, breast in each hand, like a cheerleader with pom poms...) His answer, I hope that as you look ahead through the chapters, you find that the writing flows more smoothly.' That totally ignores the fact you need to capture attention from the start, not part way through.
  • [quote=dorothyd]Then there was the mauve handwritten note saying he wanted to write a book -[/quote]

    Aww bless, was it in crayon too?
  • [quote=dorothyd]publishers do not understand him[/quote] He might find it's not just publishers ...
  • another point: researching your market first.

    We received a 5 page handwritten story, complete with illustrations, about a dragon who visited the Isle of Wight. The covering letter said it had come from a Hampshire writing group and that they knew we would like it, as we were on the Isle of Wight. I wrote back with a page of advice for said writing group, about checking whether someone published short stories, typing them properly, etc. and guess what? Not so much as a thank you. Some writing group that was!
  • edited June 2010
    [quote=dorothyd]Some writing group that was! [/quote] :)

    I'm guessing "the writing group" is the top stream from a reception class (ie 5 year olds) in Hampshire.

    dorothy, these are hilarious.
  • edited June 2010
    couldn't make them up, could I?

    What is irritating is the amount of people who ask for the guidelines and who never ever write anything for us.

    There was the time when an author sent us a story for an anthology.I didn't bother with contracts, not for a story, just said it was accepted and I would be paying everyone before too long. I was busy writing £50 cheques for everyone who had a story in there, when his invoice arrived - for £25. That's what I paid him. If he had waited a week ...
  • :) :) :)

    Awwwww, poor man.
  • dorothyd have thought about writing an article for WN or WM? I think this stuff is not only good advice but actually funny. Please include more, unless you are going to save it up for an article.
  • there's not much more, Pete. Will see about an article, good idea! Thanks!
  • Yes, it's hilarious! Would make a great article!
  • OK, will think on it, now my current book is done. Waiting on the authors to decide to come back so I can carry on with book 7 which was postponed as author 6 decided to come back and finish his work, eventually. Life gets confusing around my way, you see.
  • I know the author is going to be disappointed but I just had to reject a book on the grounds that it is boring (by page 13 nothing had happened) and the quality of the writing. I could just about cope with her breathes but could not cope with her moving her left feet.
  • [quote=dorothyd]I could just about cope with her breathes but could not cope with her moving her left feet. [/quote]

    How much more action do you need, Dorothy? :)
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