Today I’m traveling to Toronto, so I won’t be working much on submissions for the rest of the week, but in the weeks since Carina has been open, I’ve been immersed in two things: submissions and getting editors to read those submissions, so I’ve had some time to reflect on submissions guidelines, why we have them and how much I appreciate the authors who take the time to read them carefully and follow them.
I think it must be somewhat confusing (and sometimes frustrating) to be an author, submitting to a variety of different houses, each with their own submissions guidelines and peculiar requirements. With that in mind, I tried to keep ours as straightforward as possible, while giving the information I thought most authors have questions about. So what I did ask for, I actually really meant I wanted. Heh.
When a submission comes in, I look for a few pertinent details that I use to input the submission into our log, and track details. These details are the very first thing listed under “How to Submit” and I’ve come to appreciate (oh, you have no idea how much) the authors who list all this information in the query letter (unfortunately, many authors submitting miss step #1) and appreciate even more the authors who don’t make me work for the information, but lay it out there up front. Into our submissions spreadsheet goes: author’s legal name and title of book. Those, along with date of submission, are the first three elements in the submissions spreadsheet, which we can then quickly and easily import into a larger system if the book is acquired. Along with this information, I also track pen name, genre, word count and if the book is a reissue. Sometimes (many times) I have to leave a question mark in my spreadsheet when this information isn’t accessible in the cover letter. Most people submitting include a combination of these things, but often forget to mention if they’re using a pen name or what their legal name is, and often they’ll mention genre, but not completed word count, or vice versa. What’s actually worst case scenario for me is when the query letter is a separate attachment (because that takes more time for me) and still doesn’t have all of the details.
Just as a recap of our guidelines, here’s what I’m looking for: Query letter in body of email (not attached). Author’s legal name, pen name, manuscript title, genre, and word count. Mention if it’s a reissue, tell me pertinent writing credits and a short blurb of the story.
Not only does having this information shared up front, via the query letter, in a concise manner help me input the submission into the log, but it also allows me to disseminate the information to anyone who might need it (the acquisitions team, the editor I’m passing the submission to, etc) and it allows that person to get a sense of what the submission is before they’ve ever opened it!
So this post is in appreciate of all the authors who take the time to research a publisher’s submissions guidelines and submit a manuscript following those guidelines. Thank you! You make my job easier, the data entry faster, and allow me to move on to the next item in my to-do list (of which there are many) more quickly.