Wednesday, November 2, 2011


That stands for Insecure Writer's Support Group. It is the first Wednesday of every month, of course, and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex Cavanaugh. ::Cheers::

This is where we, as writers, stand up and either whimper about our insecurities or try to give helpful advice.

Well, I have whimpered a lot in the past couple of weeks and so last time I went with being supportive. Sorry for scaring the pants off of some of you. Not my intention, was trying to be helpful. Hehe!

I'm going to try and give it another shot here.

Writing is hard as hell. I know, yet again not a great way to be supportive or give good advice, right? But bear with me.

We write, we edit, we polish and wipe the sweat from our brows. We repeat the processes over and over til we just know we have it right. We start shopping around for an agent or publisher and submit our work. Rejection seems to come in droves.

How many of us follow the rules of the person or place we're submitting to? Do you read the guidelines and sort of gloss over what they are asking for? Do you look at your manuscript and shrug and say, "Eh. It'll do."?

I hope not. But, there are those out there who don't do the research necessary to the agent or publisher. And this is the supportive part.

Do yourself the favor of doing the research of what each individual wants. Modify things to form what each agent is asking for or how the publisher would like you to submit your work.

A few examples: Tor Books ~ These were the FAQs for submitting to Tor Books. They want things done a particular way, just like Penguin/Daw Books do. While Tor wants the first three chapters, nothing more than 40-60 pages or less than 10,000 words, Penguin wants the entire manuscript with a cover letter. Tor wants a dated cover letter AND synopsis of the entire book. Penguin doesn't mention a synopsis and wants you to mail the entire MS, unbound, no electronic submissions allowed. Tor wants a physical copy as well. 7 Realms Publishing only accepts submissions by invitation.

Of course, these are all fantasy places and all places I researched for submission purposes. But you get my point. You can't just create a generic package and expect everyone to want the same thing. I suppose it is different for agents, but even the few agents I scouted out all wanted different things as well. Different word count synopsis, cover letter, no cover letter... You have to tweak your submission package as much as you have to tweak your writing in the editing stages.

If you do your homework/research and send EXACTLY what people are asking for, you may get farther than just a simple form rejection. I've been rejected by Tor, (But that was before editing...) didn't even get my foot in the door with 7 Realms, chickened out on sending to Penguin until I got things polished up... rejected, rejected... and this was all before I started blogging or even knew what the hell I was doing. So I went about things a little backwards... meh. Story of my life. Now, however, I know and understand the importance of each and every hoop we jump through to get published and just how much RESEARCH affects our chances of moving forward.

Now, go get 'em!


Anonymous said...

I'm just trying to remember those words written by Lewis Carroll: "Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop." I'm hoping that gets me through November and NaNo.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your post. It is true that we have to bend to the whims of agents and publishers. It's a necessary evil if we want to get our foot in the door. After all, if we can't get the submission right how are they going to expect us to the MS right?

You mentioned that you went through things backward. So did I and it was/is frustrating. Did you use a critique group or beta reader or did you wing it? I sat down to write...wrote the MS...spent a year revising and rewriting and then sent it out. No Beta and no Crit. group. I didn't even know they existed. I just wanted to write! Now I'm wondering if I need one...

Author of Concilium, available July 2012
Concilium: The Departure, November 2012

Angela Brown said...

Every agent I've ever read about on a blog or in an interview ALWAYS pointed out the importance of doing research. Yet, so many of us don't. I can see why so many agents become a bit jaded over time.

Your supportive advice is invaluable, as a reminder from one writer to another to pay attention to those details when querying. They can make or break the first impression.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Cal,
Long time no see. I've been off line for 3 months due to a billion things. I think the whole query thing is just a headache. So many buttons and then suddenly, the word count they once accepted has been cut by 20 or 30,000 words or more. but then, you know I gave up on all that and self published. Good luck finding a home for your fantasy.
N. R. Williams, Fantasy Author

Mel Chesley said...

@ Joshua ~ Exactly! Good luck to you on both fronts.

@ Michelle ~ I did not use a critique or beta readers at first. The later, I did find a few and that helped A LOT!
What I mean by going about things backwards, was I stopped revising and editing, focused on creating a blog, a following if you will, a website and then began mentioning my work. It helped in lots of supportive ways, then helped when I did need those betas.

@ N. R. ~ Hey!! So glad you stopped by!!! It has been a long time. I am getting published, by the way, through Hellfire Publishing. I AM going to sign the contract, after a little discussion about artwork. Should be a Spring/Summer release.

@ Angela ~ I read about lots of authors who do give in and self publish simply because they just can't find a good home for their book. I totally understand that! But I have come across a couple recently that complained about not getting anywhere, but when looking over things they mentioned doing, they never followed the rules. Good luck to them, I suppose.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're right - they all want something different and we need to stay on top of that!

Ryann Kerekes said...

I just found your blog and am really excited about. Thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

I haven't made it to this point yet but it's getting closer and I totally agree with you. I can't imagine working so hard on something and not submitting like the agent/publisher requests. It's HUGE. It shows you care, are respectful of the process, and do what has to be done. It shows you aren't a slacker. Why will they read the first line if you didn't send them what they ask? It's like school, LOL. We gotta follow the teacher's rules :)