I thought it high time to get on track with a writerly topic...especially since we are attending the annual 'cheese cake' party this weekend and I'll HAVE to post about THAT.
The surviving members of our writing group recently attended a 'one-of' writing class at the university. It was called 'Writer's Bootcamp' and was taught by local author Chad Pelley. There was a ton of information to take in regarding publishing, agents, self-publishing, local contests and a lot of writing tips. I'm sure that Chad wouldn't mind if I paraphrased a bit from his page on getting published from "The Slushpile".
The first thing to know about unsolicited submissions to publishers: No publisher will read your full manuscript right off the bat. They don't have the time.
As a rule, what they want from you at first is a one-page cover letter about you (as a writer, NOT where you live and how many children you have, but your writing credits, etc), a brief summary on your book, and a ten-to-fifteen page sample from your manuscript. If they like this, they'll request the full manuscript.
Despite the nasty name, people DO get published from a slushpile. Many people. There are plenty of examples of wildly successful books having been plucked from the masses. This can't be stressed enough:
your submission package is more important than your manuscript. You get one chance to impress the reader into wanting to read you manuscript.* Don't get lazy about the cover letter your book will speak for itself. Make the book summary an engaging read. The publishers who do accept submissions get hundreds of submissions every year, but, can only publish 10-20 books a year. The grim reality is that less than 10% of what get submitted to a publisher gets published.
The ultimate goal of a query letter to a publisher (or agent) is to get them to ask for you book.
Sound like a writer and keep focused and convincing.
* As a side note-- I had another night school instructor who had worked for a publisher reading submissions from the slushpile. How HE decided if a manuscript submission went on? He would flip through the pages looking for dialogue. If care was given to ensuring crisp, engaging dialogue then the same care was likely given to the rest of the book and it would be given further consideration. Something to think about.
All sounds like good advise to me. Now I've just gotta write the damn book. I'll be back this weekend with highlights from the cheesecake party. I know...it's not quite the same as being there. I'd send you all a piece through the mail, but those darn posties would probably sniff out the sample and it would be deemed 'undeliverable'. Do not fear. I'll be getting back to my usual silly posts. Topics being considered for the near future are--
- leather fashions for chinchillas
- Is alcohol REALLY a good sleep medicine?
- care and cleaning of your winter fez
- Daily living with guidance from Tarot cards
- fine dining in the Newfoundland out ports