Pot Luck 4: Edits, Sequels, Books

Edits: The master document for First Flight is in the DONE pile. All I need now is cover art and a release date and I’m set.

Sequels: For the first time ever, I have a plot and a title for the next Chris-and-Jesse story. I’m trying very, very diligently NOT to work on it before the start of November. I have no idea if I’ll manage any NaNo writing this year, but I’m going to try — even if it means locking myself in my room.

Books: All I wanted to do was buy some books. Thanks to random passwords that I can never remember and a lack of PayPal, I wasn’t able to buy them from the publisher’s site — but I managed to get them through All Romance eBooks. I even earned myself a free book, thanks to their ‘buy ten titles, get one free’ promo; on top of that, I had about $7 in ebook-bucks, so I ended up with even more books than I intended to get. (And my to-buy pile is STILL huge. Sigh.)

Dear Companies: you exist to make money. When you sell something I want (like books full of Awesome Story, written by people I know and/or am a fan of), you make it easy for me to want to give you money. The second half of that equation is, of course, making it easy for me to give you that money. Making it easy for money to flow from me to you nets you a profit, which you can then share with the people who will then write you more Awesome Stories, which in turn brings me back to give you more money. It’s truly a win-win-win all the way around. When you make it difficult for me to give you money, it makes me crabby and less likely to sing your praises. This is not good, to put it mildly.

Please make it easy for me to give you money,

love,

Connor W., book fiend

Why do you keep asking these questions?

Writer’s Digest has now titled two of their newsletters with “What if JK Rowling had been rejected?” (Hint: she was. There’s no consensus on how many times, but at least 5, maybe as many as 12.) and a third with “What if Marley & Me had been rejected?” The answer: it was.

In fact, the author himself says that 11 of his 12 submissions resulted in rejection.

Rejections happen. Even authors who have made it, who have cadres of loyal fans that would buy an origami swan made from a grease-stained restaurant placemat as long as it had their beloved idol’s signature on it, get rejected.

If you’re lucky, someone will take the time to tell you why it didn’t work for them–and if they do, a thank-you note is in order. I sent one to John Scalzi, years after the fact, because I woke up to the fact that he wrote me a personal rejection — and at the time I got it, I didn’t know how incredibly rare that was. (I also didn’t know who he was, at the time he rejected me. Once I started following him on Twitter and reading his blog, I suddenly realized that this incredibly busy, rather funny man had been kind enough to gently explain what was wrong with my story. I owed him that thank you note with interest.)

Dearest Publishers…

I know, I keep writing you the same letter, over and over again. I do it because I want to love you, and you're making it really hard for me to do that. 

See, your submission guidelines? They are your cover letter to me, the author. When you put up guidelines that are poorly written, contain misspellings or grammatical errors, or make certain statements (which I will cover in the next section), I do not feel that you would take my writing seriously. 

When your guidelines contain statements like, oh, this:

We do not send rejections. If you don't hear from us, then we didn't accept your story.

or

Due to the volume of submissions … it is difficult for us to reply to everyone. … We can only do as much as time allows.

I decide that you are probably rude and inconsiderate, and I count myself lucky that I discovered this before I sent you anything. 

Unfair? Oh, yes, quite. Inaccurate? Possibly. And that is precisely my point, dearest publishers. I form my opinions and decide to send you my work, based solely on your cover letter–your guidelines–just as you would judge me. 

There is absolutely no reason in the world that you cannot respond to each submission. There is no law stating that you must give a thoughtful, thorough, reasoned critique of each piece that comes into your possession — it's a nice thing to do, should you take that time and effort, but any writer worth their salt doesn't expect one. (I certainly don't, and when I get one, I'm always surprised and grateful.)

Please, take a good hard look at your guidelines and your response policies. Get someone else to look at them, too. Clarify them. Create templates and spreadsheets. Your potential authors do; you can, too.

Sincerely,

I remain,

wanting desperately to love you.  

Dearest Publishers,

Hi. I know, I know, we’re having this conversation AGAIN. I’m really sorry; I wish we weren’t.

The thing is, sweetheart, simply this: your submission/contribution guidelines are your cover letter to me. You need to make them clear and concise, but especially clear.

If I can’t figure out what you want, or when you want it, or if you pay (and how much), then I’m going to simply move on–there’s no sense in wasting your time. I’m certainly not at all interested in wasting my own time, either.

So please, take a good hard look at your guidelines. Ask someone else to look at them. Change them, if it’s necessary. If you welcome questions at the submission address, say so; if you’d rather they went somewhere else, tell me where. But above all, make sure that they reflect what you’re actually looking for.

Writers are creative and imaginative, but we’re not psychic. (Okay, I seem to be mildly psychic, but it’s limited to knowing when someone is going to change lanes without signaling, so.)

Thanks for your time and attention,

I remain,

mildly annoyed by this.

Dear World,

Hi!

It has come to my attention that even traditionally-published authors have trouble with this one, so I'm going to make it simple. 

"Bored of" is something small children say because small children are often grammatically challenged.

"Bored BY" or "bored WITH", on the other hand, is what those of us who've been around the block (whatever your particular block may consist of) say. 

"I am bored BY your inanity," she sighed. "And I am bored WITH this…. This… Whatever-it-is. Take it away."

Please. Learn the difference. 

Some love,

Me.