Monday, August 27, 2007

Unsolicited Submissions and Despair

There have been a lot of posts on SCBWI recently lamenting the fact that so many publishers are no longer responding to unsolicited submissions. A lot of authors seem very hurt and indignant. "How dare they treat potential customers this way?" seems to be the refrain of the hour...

But this is looking at the situation exactly backwards.

We're not the potential customers. They are. After all, we want THEM to buy OUR product. Unsolicited Authors are in the position of a salesman cold-calling. Or, actually in the position of someone sending unasked for catalogues and junk mail.

Do YOU personally respond to everyone who sends you a piece of junk mail? Do you call all those credit card companies up and tell them exactly why you're rejecting their offer?

I didn't think so. At least the publishers do us the courtesy of opening our submissions and reading the first page or so. The junk mail I get goes straight to the trashcan, unless I let the kids play with it...

So then you may wonder, why keep sending out unsolicited manuscripts?

Well, because, just like a few people may respond to that junk mail that you toss blithely in the trash can, there's a chance that some publisher somewhere may look at what you have to offer and think "Hey.. I'd like to see more of this..."

But we really can't blame them for not wanting to take the time to respond to all the stuff that they don't want. Even if we're SURE they should really, really want our book.

After all, what kind of salesman would we be if we didn't believe in the product?


xaipe said...

As editor of a children's magazine for ten years, I slogged through thousands of unsolicited manuscripts. (I could write my own book about how not to write for kids.) But I always kind of insisted on keeping the way open for the unsolicited stuff, even if someone else screened it, because I found some wonderful writers that way. (Bless you, Sally Wilkins! Bless you, too, Bob Hartman! And all you others I've worked with!) Later, we published their books, too.
But authors (especially those who write for kids) need to do a lot of work before they send anything anywhere!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Thanks for stopping by to comment!

I just wanted to say that the Daughters of St. Paul are one of my favorite religious orders... And one I'd encourage my daughters to look at if they feel called to religious life when they're older!

(I went to school in Chicago and my friends and I stopped by the store every time we went downtown. I
was always struck by how all the sisters I met really seemed to LOVE their vocation.

They made a huge impression on me, because all the religious sisters I'd met before seemed...grumpy.

So, THANK YOU for all the wonderful work you do in publishing and other media.

I'm so glad God gave us orders like yours!