Publisher Receives 300+ submissions!

Publisher receives 300+ submissions. Not per month, or week but EVERY DAY.

I was speaking to a friend last night who owns a medium sized publishing firm. Telling me how busy she was she told me that she gets over three hundred submissions everyday. I know her well, and she would feel she owes it to the authors to look at their work. Predictably she told me that the vast majority are dreadful. The story may be okay, but the accompanying letter, presentation, and quality of English in the text can only be described as poor.

I'm sent work to read. And I'm happy to do that. But sometimes I want to scream at the lack of punctuation. I've bought self published books off Amazon and the grammar and punctuation is not good. If you are going to publish there, get someone on here to read the first couple of pages, they would at least be able to tell you if you need help. There are proofreaders on this site.

But it doesn't end there, a published author, with a contract for poetry sent me the synopsis of his novel to check. Spelling and punctuation, perfectly all right. But he had no idea how to write a synopsis. If he had sent it to a publisher, they would have rejected him outright.

Sometimes if you want to make it to the top of the pile, you have to try harder.

Toni Ressaire, what would you say, as a publisher?

(I have read this so carefully to make sure there are no mistakes! :) )

What have you written, Carolyn?

That's the way it is. My one published in April was two years from Springer accepting, through reviewers, editors, rewrites and heck knows what else. Two of us just finished an online bibliography for OUP last week. It is about 30 pages, has been back and forth for two years and will be published in a couple of months. A point I made to one of their editors, is that while we tried to stay up to date for them to publish something that is genuinely valid, the risk of requiring reviews and edits for updating delaying it further was as much of an inhibition as the unprofitable proposition of writing the bl**dy thing!

Yep, spent six months rewriting, editing and rewriting - that was the easy bit. Now I have spent days writing and throwing away synopsis and query letters. I can't believe it's so difficult - or I am so hopeless at it!

this is an interesting point Teresa. I do know a lady author who can spin yarns by the crateful and yet has trouble putting it all into concise and meaningful form. Unlike most authors, she was very successful with her first two novels and then nothing further has sold. I don't know how she keeps going to her desk every morning. It has been over ten years since any of her new work has sold.

someone getting your name wrong is SO annoying and shows that they are not interested in you at all

I have Kindle Prime and borrow many books. I have to say that some are very badly written and formatted and the only way they would have ever made it onto the public bookshelf is via Kindle. The look inside feature is, of course, a great help. I now feel very sorry for the poor publishers who are obliged to sift through such an enormous slush pile of real and virtual books. I have received some very encouraging reviews for my first effort - and both from complete strangers. I am happy to supply free download copies to anyone who enjoys the short story genre (and mine really are quite short!) and would be willing to review. I could review your work in exchange. I am attaching a link to my Amazon page and hope this isn't considered spamming


Buy the latest copy of the Writer's & Artists Handbook (or even a last year copy). I just bought a 2012 Edition on amazon for just £2.30, whilst the 2013 one is about £20.

Lots of tips AND the requirement by Publishers around the world, who state clearly what they want and how they want it.

Plus if you think you are good enough, then think about getting an Agent, they will always know more than you about the business and their percentage is well-earned.

On the other hand you can go the Self-Publishing route as I did with two textbooks on Advertising and Marketing, sponsored in both instances - the first by Saatchi & Saatchi and the other by an Australian Financial Organisation.

This CAN develop, and I am now the Editorial Partner in the Company the latter created. Make no mistake it takes time and effort on my side,and money from theirs, and returns can be slow, and there are lots of financial fingers in the professional pie, generally leaving the Author with about 10% of the retail price.

Think about eBooks as these are easier to produce and review and present. Teaser chapters for free are a good test as to whether your book will sell.

see our temporary website at the moment.

I'll go with that. Having just read proofs and seeing how many were my mistakes in the original ms!

And spelling and attention to detail is vital. I've posted about editing / proof reading work before and received replies which have contained typos and (most heinous sin of all!!) got my name wrong. Okay, so I spell my name differently to most Catherine's (blame my mother..) but that says to me, if people can't get that basic stuff right, then why on earth would I trust them to spot other mistakes....

Right Glyn, try having them use your first name quickly then you will get messages/letters with theirs which you are then free to use. I've been doing that for over 40 years and it is just one more of those bits of 'oil' that help.

Well done Frances for spotting my deliberate mistake! (Just shows how much I need that editor lol)

A very important point you make though Brian is always when you submit take on board what the publisher wants. If it's three chapters they don't want the whole lot. It could be email only. As Brian said the synopsis could be 250 words it could be 1000. And if a publisher is receiving 300+ manuscripts a day they are going to be ruthless, and ruthless means deleted from their computer.

My friend also told me that she hated it if the covering letter wasn't addressed to her. If it said Dear Sir that was a real no no, Dear Sir/Madam wasn't much better, Dear Mrs Jones showed the submitter had read her web site.

Different publishers want different things, there is no format or golden rule. I have just finished over 300 pages of typesetter's proofs on my forthcoming offering yesterday. OK, I write academic things not novels but in principle, since plenty of old colleagues did a bit of both and I saw that, synopses are variable. In my case with Springer now I had to do it in 250 words maximum with a sample chapter. That was peer reviewed. I went to other publishers, some gave a straight rejection, others wanted all manner of answers to things. For all of them submission for editorial inspection was different to the other. It means a fair bit of work for even the straight off no. I think these different procedures are deliberate to block authors sending out a stack of book proposals willy-nilly. So, I did an under 250 word synopsis for Springer but another publisher wanted 1000, they wanted a sample chapter and two samples respectively.

On the memoir point, there is only a subtle difference between a memoir and history. One is, after all, personal history. In most European languages the word 'story' and 'history' are the same. In fact, take the 'hi' off history and in English what do you have. Knowing several historians I know that they 'interpret' what they learn about the past so that a lot of what is delivered to us is 'embellishment'. A great example that delights me is the French slant on Charlemagne. Unlike their versions of history, he was never French nor king of France. He was born in what is now Belgium and ruled from and is buried in the Frankish capital Aachen in Germany. What is taught here in schools is, therefore, largely fiction, embellishment or whatever we might like to call it but not even interpretation. In a way it reaffirms what we know that all of Jack Kerouac's work was modified memoir. John Steinbeck said that his was mainly recollection and modification of what he had seen in his life. Aldous Huxley was entirely fiction, often helped by (ahem, ahem) 'substances' admittedly. Those three typologies seem to sum up what modern fiction is and then add a bit of the 'guilt' psychoanalysts analyse into works like Dostoyevsky's novels and that's presumably what the publishers want. I might try fiction one day, but fact and scientific analyst type like yours truly will probably fail dismally, so I am not hurrying.

I'm not sure that the synopsis matters so much. Publishers and agents know very well that being able to write a synopsis doesn't mean you can write a decent novel and vice versa. The purpose of the synopsis is to show that you've got a plot and that it follows a reasonable course, not to give the flavour of the book. That's why they ask for 10,000 words or three chapters. Of course a good synopsis helps but it doesn't matter nearly so much as a properly punctuated letter!

Not having read it, I can only imagine that your friend sounds correct. Thinking of Keith Richards memoir, there's a lot of dialogue there and I can hear characters such as Mick, or Keith's father when Keith was a boy speaking. Now the dialogue can't be true because Keith wasn't walking round with a tape recorder, but the gist is true. You can get too hung up about memoirs being truth. They are interpretations of events.

When you think that is one publisher. Do the maths then. Could be a question on University Challenge.

lol Nikki... that would be 'route'?

I'm having the first 9 chapters of my new book read by an author friend back in NZ just for some feedback. She likes it but suggests I insert lots of direct speech/dialogue to break up the content. That would mean I'd have to invent some and it's a memoir. What do the rest of you think about this? What do you like to read in a memoir?

Wow, that puts it into perspective Glyn, you can see why so many new authors (and not so new) are taking the self published root. I know it makes it more difficult for the reader to avoid buying poorly written publications and I absolutely agree with your advice to get your work thoroughly proof read before releasing it. However, that doesn't stop other writers doing it. I always go by the reviews on Amazon, plus you can usually view the first chapter with their "Look inside" feature - that will give you a good idea of whether it's worth buying or not.

Hi Glyn,
I think the synopsis is by far the most difficult document to produce. Publishers and agents differ in what they expect, for starters. But I think it's also hard to take the necessary step back from the story you know so well in order to write a compelling yet succinct synopsis. Personally, I have at least a dozen versions for the novel I'm marketing at the moment, and I tend to rewrite it each time I send a query to a publisher / agent.