LTUE talk, part 4

Continued from Part 3

Don’t play games
This goes back to “be yourself.” Simple and professional is the name of the game. There are no tricks to getting published. It’s all about the writing. Write well, write a good story, and if it’s also marketable you’ll find the right publisher eventually.
You might have heard authors saying “this trick worked for me,” or “this is the secret to getting published”—often including tricks that ignore the publisher’s submission guidelines. What they’re saying is simply “t
his worked for me.” It won’t necessarily work for you, and it especially won’t work if you’re doing something that implies you don’t trust the publisher you’re submitting to.
In dating, would you use tricks to keep someone interested in you? Would it work, long-term, if they’re not a good match? It’s the same with publishers. If your work is not a good fit for them, for whatever reason, it will show.
I’ve had a few submissions in the past where the author had a certain “platform” (useful in nonfiction, not as much in fiction)—the ability to market the book to a built-in audience. For example, one had a connection in Hollywood.
But the story didn’t work. The writing was bad, the plot barely existent, and the concept wasn’t really very original. Despite the “trick” of having a built-in audience, the story didn’t hold up and I had to reject it. 

Focus on the craft, focus on writing an amazing story. That will win out a good editor far beyond any gimmicks.

You are not the exception
If I say I don’t date smokers because I’m allergic to smoke, do you think I’ll make an exception just this once because this amazing guy happens to be a smoker?
Well, I won’t. I happen to like breathing.
It’s the same with publishers. You not only want to find a publisher, you want to find the right fit with a publisher.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get familiar with their submission guidelines and catalog. Go to the bookstore and find books in the same genre/storytelling vein as the book you’re shopping around and target your submissions to them. Don’t just depend on the Writer’s Market or something like that—go to the publisher’s website and read their guidelines there, too.
With a new imprint like Mirrorstone—heck with any imprint, but especially with a new imprint, coming to conferences to listen to editors say what they’re looking for, searching the web for industry news and editor interviews, will also give you a better idea what they’re looking for.
I cannot tell you HOW MANY PICTUREBOOKS I received in the slush pile even after we specifically noted in our submission guidelines—including every writer resource that asked us—that we don’t publish picturebooks. Even now, after those guidelines have been in force for years, our assistant editor tells me that the slush pile is a good 30-50% picturebooks
on any given day.
If they don’t publish something, your manuscript, no matter how perfect, isn’t going to be an exception.
I even wrote back to one person once, whose picturebook was pretty interesting. I said, “We don’t publish picture books, but we do publish fantasy for children and young adults. You’re welcome to submit if you write that kind of thing.”
She responded with, “Thank you for the reply, but fantasy is the one genre I don’t write.”
Why in the world then did she submit to Mirrorstone? Fantasy is the ONLY genre we publish!
Do not follo
w her example.

Next up, and last for tonight, It’s not you, it’s me