Continued from Part 2
Play the field
You’ve heard this one before, right? When you’re first getting out there in the dating world, you can’t just zoom in on one person. You have to get to know a lot of people, figure out who has what you’re looking for. Who matches you.
It’s the same in publishing. You have to do your research. Find out which publishers publish the kind of books you write.
The more you target your submissions, the more likely you are to get past the slush pile. And once you have a query or a manuscript out there, get to work on your next book!
I know authors who have as many as four or more books they’ve finished and are shopping around, while working on the next one. I’m more impressed by an author who has finished more than one book before getting published—it lets me know they’re an independent hard worker. You should listen to what my friend Brandon Sanderson says in some of his panels here—he sold his sixth book while writing his 13th.
He’s (she’s) just a slow mover
Just like in dating, you have to decide if you have the patience to deal with slow movers in publishing. Well, you should know that most publishers are slow movers. Some who have submitted to me know that I’m probably way up there in slow responses, but I know I’m not the only editor out there with a slow turnaround time. I often have a lot of pressing deadlines, and I work for a very small new imprint.
That means that between me and my senior editor plus part of the time of an assistant editor (thankfully I don’t have to be the first reader on the slush anymore!), we do:
all the editorial work,
plus we help out with shows, promotions, launches,
we support our marketing staff,
we have meet
ings to plan out things with the art staff, schedule, acquisitions, etc
coordinate freelance copyeditors and proofers,
and all that—and we’re also looking for new authors at the same time. You can probably imagine that our schedules tend to get quite hectic, and that means we’re awfully slow movers.
In dating, being a slow mover might mean they’re not interested. But it might be that a slow mover is simply someone who does things slowly. In publishing, it truly does mean that we’re just slow movers! We take a while to decide, either way.
But it also means that you shouldn’t wait around for an ultra-slow mover to make a decision. As I’ve already talked about, you should have other irons on the fire—both in your writing projects (developing your talents, improving yourself, I suppose) and in your search for a publisher (continuing to date other people casually until someone decides to commit to a relationship).
Make sure that if you decide to “date around,” though, that the publisher accepts simultaneous submissions. I do. Many don’t. Watch the submission guidelines to be sure, and be sure to be clear that your submission is a simultaneous one.
If you work in a niche market, those opportunities may come as few and far between as my dating opportunities, but they’re out there, and you should be keeping yourself busy and goi
ng forward rather than twiddling your thumbs.
And if it’s been a while, don’t be afraid to follow up. If you had a great date with someone, it’s perfectly acceptable to wait a proper amount of time and then follow up with a quick email or call saying that you had a great time and seeing how they’re doing.
With editors, if you haven’t heard from someone after a month or two after their response time has passed (usually posted on their submission guidelines), it’s acceptable to send a quick email or postcard/letter just checking on the status of the manuscript. However, unlike dating, DO NOT CALL.
Editors are busy, and especially if she’s not concentrating on slush that day, your call will only put her on the spot and make her more likely to reject a manuscript she’d been on the fence about. Professional courtesy should always be at play here, on both authors’ and publishers’ parts.
If you commit to a relationship w/ someone, make sure you let everyone else know. If you have an offer on the table, let the other publishers considering your piece know before you make a commitment, though, because that might speed up their consideration.
However, ONLY do that if there really is an offer on the table.