Thursday, January 21, 2010
Sorry, I wont go prowling around your online site looking for stuff - by Terry Burns
I’ve gotten several lately that said “I have a book I’d like you to represent, go to my website and you will find all the information you need there.” I try to always be as polite as my momma raised me so I wrote back:
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound snippy but I don’t go visiting sites checking out projects. I review proposals to see what sort of a document I would have to work with pitching editors. (Besides, responding to links in emails without really knowing what it is simply is not a good idea).
I would such be happy to entertain a proposal on it per the submission guidelines at our website at www.hartlineliterary.com which shows exactly what our agency needs to receive in order to properly evaluate the work in terms of the markets in which we are currently working.
A professional proposal is a single word or .rtf document that is a quality presentation, yet preserves the proper formatting in the requested first three chapters to show how the actual work is formatted. To see if it's something we could easily base a submission on to sell an editor on the project. The three chapters give me a feel for the writing and the rest of the proposal the marketability of the project and the platform and promotion ability of the author. I accept this file as an attachment to an email and do not accept hard copy submissions.
We look forward to seeing more on this project, and having the opportunity to evaluate it up against the markets that we are currently seeking work in order to fill the needs we know exist, as well as new market needs which surface daily.
Undeterred, in each case they wrote back and said “Go to the site or don’t go to the site it’s the most efficient way to present it.”
The first one that said that I wrote back and just said “don’t.”
I was in a better mood the second time and said : Sorry, but as I said it wouldn’t give me what I need to pitch it for you so there is no point. Good luck with it, although I would highly recommend you check submission guidelines for any agent or editor you want to pitch to and send them what they want the way they want to receive it. Strictly up to you however.
I know, I know, if I’d just said “it’s not a good fit” the first time I might not have heard back at all, but then again, a lot of people want to discuss that too and point out the error of my ways. But you see, I really am driven by wanting to help somebody make a successful submission so I very often say something that to them seems to invite discussion instead of them realizing they got a useful tip.
But can you believe it, he came back a third time still wanting to argue about it. He seems to feel that I have an obligation to read his material and not only that that I MUST do it his way rather than how we publicize all over as the method we use to properly process submissions. There are reasons we do things the way we do, as with most agencies and publishing houses. Perhaps he will find someone who will do it his way instead of the way he wants them to do it. I hope so, but it's not going to be me.
The bottom line is that I get more than a hundred submissions a month, a lot of good books, and all were careful to follow the submission guidelines to give me what I needed to see to make a decision, and to be sure I had a great base document to build an agency proposal on. Why with all of those folks that did it right would I go to some website where I’d have to lift pieces right and left and try to piece some sort of proposal together to be able to submit it? And why would they think sending me that little abrasive reply would make me say “Oh my, what am I thinking? I better run over there and dig through that site.”