Monday, 25 June 2012

Do Not Presume to Presume

It has been eight days since my last blog, about five days too long I think, sorry about that, but I know a little more now than I did then.  Out of the four publishers that I have submitted to, one has passed the time-frame set in its guidelines and I have had no response.  Another…well I have to say that this is a bit embarrassing, but it seems that I sent my submission to the wrong department, and I will talk more about that today. The other two are still well within the set time frames; one ending July 9th the other October 13th and I have had no news from either of these.  Being a glass half full kinda gal, I am going with the no news is good news line of thought.
Now back to my embarrassment.  I know I stated earlier that I am by no means an expert and you should not take what I say as any form of advice, well…I wish to recant that for this one piece of advice. READ THE SUBMITTION GUIDELINES, FOLLOW THEM TO THE LETTER, DOUBLE AND TRIPPLE CHECK EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU SUBMIT.
Upper case is very dramatic isn’t it?  I didn’t mean to shout at you but as simple as these instructions are, they are often not followed…even by me.  Non-compliance to these guidelines, even in one area, will see your hard work off to the recycled basket without a second thought.
I was excited when I discovered that one of my preferred publishers was taking unsolicited manuscripts, and I set to work, following their guidelines carefully, as I readied my submission. My query letter was ready, complete with all relevant information; I had a synopsis of no more than 300 words and my sample chapter was double lined, with 3cm margins all around, and so on. Satisfied that all was in order, I confidently hit the send button.
Late the next day I received a very polite email stating that my work was not suitable for the children’s publishing program. I was horrified, how could I have sent it to the wrong department? Will I be able to send it to the correct area? Have I just shot myself in the foot?  After my mini meltdown I went back on to their website and went through the submissions guidelines again.
My error was this…I presumed.
I am writing for Young Adults, and I have found that with many publishers, the YA genre is merged with the children’s department.  I presumed that this was the case and I was wrong.  I let my excitement of discovering that a preferred publisher was taking unsolicited manuscripts blind me to the details, and as a result I showed myself as being ignorant of, or thinking I was above following the set guidelines, or at the very least of being unprofessional. A mistake that I will not make again!
I have gotten over my embarrassment and hope not to relive it, I’d hate for you to have to go through the same thing, it was a horrible sinking feeling and I was very disappointed in myself. Still am in fact.   Saying that, I have picked myself up, brushed myself off, and I am back on track. 
You will find that the submission requirements will vary from publisher to publisher, do not presume that they are all the same.  Read them carefully and follow them. If there is a Q & A section, answer honestly, and if they have supplied sample answers, follow that format. For example, if they have supplied a short sentence answer, do not supply a paragraph. 

I can’t stress enough the importance of following their guidelines, no matter how pedantic they seem, just do it.  If it helps, put yourself in the publisher’s shoes, and imagine the quantity of work they have to sift through, and how happy they will be to be able to discard some of that workload simply on the basis of non-compliance, and remember that they are looking for potential authors to work with.   
Never Give Up...
I am presuming, and I could be miles off track with this, you now know of my bad experienced with presuming, anyway, I am presuming that these submissions are, as well as a means for assessing your work, a means of assessing your compliance and attitude.  If you were looking for someone to work with, would you hire the person who came late, didn’t provide all of the relevant information, and openly ignored your company guidelines?  No? Well neither would I, and neither will the publishers.

even when things aren't going your way..

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