Monday, March 9, 2015

Why Are There Submission Instructions? by Linda S. Glaz

We handle very little sci-fi/fantasy/spec fiction of any kind. And we definitely DO NOT handle anything that has profanity or graphic sexuality. We each also have particular genres that we prefer to see. We ask that authors follow our non-fiction or fiction guidelines and then submit to us.
And yet…I continue to get erotica, fantasy, erotic fantasy…well, you get the picture.
We also spell out exactly how we would like submissions to come to us. In a proposal with specific information included as well as sample chapters…the first three sample chapters. And still, I get the first chapter, the last chapter, and the “one that’s really good”!
Editors and agents spell out what they want to see for a specific reason. We can move through them much more easily if they all are in a specific format. They is nothing that hurts the eyes more than to be on submission 20 for the day, and have it come through single-spaced, Arial-10pt. At that time of the day, I’m lucky to still be able to see double-spaced, Times New Roman-12 pt. But at least my eyes are used to it, so I can still see well enough to do what I think is a good job responding.
It is never good or professional to send proposals to all of the agents in one agency, even worse to blanket the entire industry of agents with the same email. All of us listed for each other to see.
When a professionally done proposal per agency guidelines is sent to one agent at a time (and I’m fine with authors sending out multiple submissions; I wouldn’t want you waiting before sending another), we can take those proposals more seriously. A well done prop gets your foot in the door. The more professionally done, the better.
Think about whether or not you would want your instructions followed; it opens the door immediately. And even if the writing isn’t quite there yet, an agent will probably be willing to have a second look if you followed the instructions the first time.
Do your homework. Know what the agents are looking for. Don’t ‘assume’ anything. If you follow the guidelines on agency sites, the chances are you are already ten steps above most.
Good luck, best wishes, and follow those instructions to a ‘t’.


Crystal L Barnes said...

Hi Linda,

Thanks for the post. I was reading over it again and had a question. You mentioned about agents be willing to take a second look. If you've submitted to an agent in the past (and thus you have their personal email), is it bad form to query them for a new story if they have not requested it, or would it be better to submit the query/proposal in the same manner as everyone else (the email address that goes to their office aide)? Thanks for any insight you can offer.

Linda Glaz said...

I'm good either way, Crystal, but they get to us just as fast. Other agents might feel different, so I'd say go through the office email if you don't know for sure. At any rate, be sure and let them know that you've talked with them before, and any other 'connection' you can make with them. I don't know about other agents, but I like it when I know I've talked with/emailed with a person before. There's a better connection...sometimes good...sometimes not so good. LOL

Crystal L Barnes said...

Thanks for the input, Linda. Appreciate it. :)

Linda Glaz said...

No problem.

Rick Barry said...

Do you think most of these frustrations result from the sheer ignorance of newbies? I suspect that, every year, countless people who like to read get a sudden inspiration: "Hey, I could write a book!" So they do. And when they finish, they have no clue what to do with it. So they shrug their shoulders and start peppering the world with shotgun-blast proposals in hope of hitting the right target somewhere. Any experienced author should be way beyond such slipshod tactics, but there will always be a fresh crop of newcomers, some skilled and some ... not so much.

Linda Glaz said...

You're absolutely correct. Although, a lot of folks who've been writing a while do the same thing, but it's mostly new authors. I had to respect a guy I recently heard from who said, "Not at all sure what I should be doing as I'm new at this." And I was able to respond and make some suggestions, but that is a rare example.