Monday, February 26, 2007

Both Sides Now

I've been busy reading submissions.

Our new publishing company is developing nicely. We finished drawing up the contract and showed it to a few authors who pronounced it "very reasonable". The website is set up and the shopping cart is in order. We've ordered ISBNs for the books, and our editor is already excited about the books already on her list.
I'm looking for proofreaders now. Anyone interested in proofreading and getting not-yet published books for free can contact me.
It's funny being on the other side of the submissions process.
Usually I'm the one writing the query letters and submitting chapters. Every time I hit the "send" button and see my submission go, my heart flutters, so I know what the authors feel like when they send me their 'babies'.
Luckily I'm not in acquisitions, but I do read the YA submissions and I can read others if I want, although right now I'm in charge of the YA, fantasy, and science fiction part of the submissions.
Here is what I've learned so far:

You can tell a great deal from just the query letter.

You can't tell very much from the synopsis, and the first three pages are usually enough to go on.

I really, really don't like synopsies that don't tell the ending of the book. It's not a blurb, it's a synopsis. I need to have the whole story!

Out of ten queries:
I've requested the first three chapters for 4 out of the 10 queries I've read.
From these, I've requested 2 fulls.
I sent the 2 other 'first three chapters' to our editor to see if she's willing to work with the author. (One maybe, one no.)
I've rejected 4 out of 10 queries after just reading the synopsis and first three pages.
Out of 10 queries, we have 1 definite yes.
1 out of 10.
2 fulls pending.

This is another thing I've learned. You're not as excited about reading when you 'HAVE' to read. That's why finding a great book is such a thrill.
It's not easy to see the diamond in the rough. That's the hard part.
So far I hope I haven't missed any diamonds.

At any rate, being on this side of the submissions process has made me look at agents, editors, and publishers differently. There is simply no way I can be on the internet all day, no way I can intercept mail all day, and no way I can read all the submissions at once. And you don't want me to! You want me to be relaxed, in a good mood, and in a quiet place before I open your query. Otherwise I can't give it the attention it deserves.
The query was sent with a fluttering heart and has hopes pinned to it, so unless the time is right and I HAVE time, I won't read it, even if it means letting it sit in my files for a week while I get other things out of the way. I want to be able to see the diamonds in the rough, as well as those that already sparkle.
I wonder if all agents, publishers, and editors feel like this?


WriterForHire said...

I'd love to hear about your proofreading opportunities. Please e-mail me the details at:
cathy francis books at yahoo dot com

(no spaces and replace the at with @ and the dot with a period)


John Nez said...

I think editors and agents and publishers have mastered the art of putting things off for weeks on end.

Maybe that's why they take forever to do most anything... they're waiting until they're in just the right 'mood' to look at some submission.

I find that when I have to read books to do the bookcover, it also makes for a whole different reading experience. The ease of free will is replaced by the burden of duty.


crowwoman / rhian said...

okay Sam - i must be coming in late to your blog because i think i've missed something of great importance... did i hear new publishing company? As in a new place to scope out books? Excuse my complete and utter ignorance but DETAILS please! I scanned your blog links but don't see anything that jumps out as a NEW PLACE FOR ME TO FEED MY ADDICTION. Sorry. Didn't mean to shout. Grin!

Sam said...

Hi Cathy -
Thanks for your interest - I will get back to you ASAP!

If putting things off is an art, then I am definitely an artist, lol. I wondered about editors requesting material then not getting back to me for weeks, sometimes months. Now I know why.

Rhian -
We're not open yet - but hopefully we can set a date and make an announcement soon.

Gabriele C. said...

And imagine the additional 'fun' when you get a submission you recognise from someone's blog. I can imagine it's much harder to reject people you know.

Manda86 said...

Hi Sam,

I'd love to know more about your publishing company. Is it e-book publishing, or traditional publishing. What's the experience of your editor? What's the contact you have in the business, and your experience as an agent? What about the other agents in the company?

I probably should email this to you on your site, but there isn't any agent info listings in case of submissions :)

Thanks so much Sam!


Wynn Bexton said...

Interesting. I'm not certain exactly what proofreading entails. At the moment I'm doing reader's critiques with some editing and critique notes for manuscripts (currently doing a travel book about Africa). It's a great experience. I'd like to know more.

Sam said...

Gabriele, If someone I knew submitted,I would pass the manuscript on to someone else to read. I would simply say, "I know this person, so would you pay special attention to it," but I wouldn't read it myself or try and influence the reader.
So far it's happened three times, and each time I've passed the query on.

Sam said...

Hi Manda,
To try and answer your questions:
our publishing compnay is just e-books, but our CEO would like to try POD books sometime in the futute.
Our editor has been an editor for more than ten years for several publishing companies. She also does reviews, and wanted to start a publishing company of her own.
I'm not an agent, lol. I'm just in charge of marketing and design, I'm webmistress, and I'm in charge of receptioning YA books as well as sci-fi and fantasy.
(I'm reading one now about a centaur - too cool!)
If you want to visit the site and see about submissions, it's at
Thanks for your interest!

Sam said...

Hi Wynn,
Proofreading is simply reading the manuscript and keeping a nit-picking eye open for typos or inconsistancies. It does not entail making any corrections except highlighting typos and mentioning that the hero was wearing a red shirt in scene one, and in scene two he somehow had a blue shirt, lol.

Lightning said...

I'm also interested in your proofreading opportunities. My email is Thanks!

Dakota Cassidy said...

You have a new pub company? Congrats, honey! I had no idea. I've not been blog hopping much lately and I somehow missed this.


DC :)