Friday, May 16, 2008

Advice for Writers

I was going through the slush pile this morning. I set my alarm and got up extra-early to do so. We've been getting lots of submissions at Calderwood Books, and as a publisher, we are always looking for a story that catches or interest and captivates us. I'm not the only slush pile reader, but this month I am - because of not one, but TWO, fried computers. So, I was all alone reading the slush and I was getting behind, so that's why the early morning and lots of coffee slush day today.
I found some interesting submissions. Most were not publishable, either because they were so badly written they would take far too much time and effort to work into shape, or the story was hackneyed, or the plot boring, or it was too narrow an interest field. I did find one or two that interested me, so I put them aside and went over them again when I was finished writing my rejections slips.
I read them again.
Yes, there was one that really stood out. Needed work, but the prose was vibrant and the story new and interesting. So, quite pleased, I sent off a request for a full manuscript and made a note in my files. A few minutes later I noticed a new e-mail. It said something along these lines, "Because I don't know your e-mail address, this note has bounced back. Go to this link and fill out a form in order to let your e-mail through."
Well, I was very sorry. Sorry because I just didn't have the time to follow links and fill out forms. I'm only blogging this because my son is in the shower and I'm waiting my turn. Anyhow, dear authors. Please, when you submit a story to a publisher or agent, make sure your spam catcher or filter has the publisher's / agent's e-mail address so you can accept their requests / rejections. I'm afraid I don't know any agent / publisher who will take the time to track down a submission.

Good luck with your submissions! (Next advice blog will be about publishing schedules - what to expect, when to bug the publisher, and when to sit back and relax!)


Charles Gramlich said...

Ouch. I've had this happen to me in some cases where folks have solicited my feedback for something and, like you say, I don't have the time to fill out all those forms.

Sad but true.

WordVixen said...

Oh, Good Lord! Miss Snark always advised having an email account dedicated to your publishing efforts. That way, you'd always get your correspondence and you wouldn't have to specifically whitelist anyone.

I can't imagine having a block like that if I had something out on submission!

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

You make a good and worrying point. I've just installed a spam trap - too many offers to enlarge bits of me that don't exist - and I was actually wondering if it was likely to trap things I didn't want it to trap. I've now set it so I can inspect regularly to see what it's caught.

Lyn Cash said...

I'm afraid I don't know any agent / publisher who will take the time to track down a submission.

LOL - true, true, true - great post! enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Oopsy Daisy said...

Frankly I wouldn't take the time to fill out a form like that even if it was my best friends email. Good grief! Word Vixen hit the nail on the head with the Miss Snark advice about having a dedicated email for your writing submissions.

I hope the huby is feeling better and out of the hospital soon!

JG said...

Oh dear... I do feel sorry for that person though.
I encountered a similar thing once when trying to contact someone, and the clearing form was very simple, and quick to do. When they got my message they were so pleased to hear from me and I was then on their 'cleared' list.

If the internet wasn't so chock-a-block with horrid spam, it would be so much nicer for everyone, and such obstacles wouldn't get in the way of hopes and dreams.
Sad that we all have so little time to offer too.