Thursday, January 29, 2009

Manuscript Submissions...Oh dear

I found this horrifying picture of an editor's slush pile at a publishing house. Pretty scary. If you're sending off a manuscript in 2009 make sure it's top notch work. It takes forever to get pulled out of the pile and the editor or reader is going to give you one paragrah worth of reading to determine if they'll read the entire page. Once they make it past the 1st page they'll keep going to 2, 3, 4, and 5. So that first paragaph and then first five pages has to absolutely grab them. Literary agent, Noah Lukeman wrote a very good book, titled exactly that, The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile to help aspiring writers understand what an editor or agent is looking for. DO NOT MAIL OFF A MANUSCRIPT without reading this book. Really, don't.

Also, if you don't have a good critique partner(s), considering having a free-lance editor look at it first. It could save you time, postage and lots of praying about your baby as it waits in the slush pile.

I'm availabe at Legacy Editing and I'm having a New Year sale that ending soon!


bwsmitty said...

Hello Rhonda, as a publisher I can totally relate to the photo you posted - my office looks similar. Authors need to know that it is not necessary to send an entire 300 page manuscript in. That may have been necessary in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, but these days all it takes is a good synopsis of the book, one chapter, and a note from the author explaining his/her opinion of what makes the manuscript different from the other books on the market. For me to determine whether or not a manuscript is something I may want to publish at Hollygrove Publishing. Although I do accept submissions via the mail, I actually prefer them to be sent as email attachments - I'm trying to have my office free of clutter. Just my thoughts on the topic. Other publishers may feel different.

Brian W. Smith
Hollygrove Publishing, Inc.

Anonymous said...

That pile is so intimidating. I'll make sure to put my best foot forward when I'm ready to submit.

Kim Hutchinson

Rhonda McKnight said...


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your preference at Hollygrove. I think there's an assumption that if you send the entire manuscript it will be read and I'm sure it'll only be read if it's so compelling that the editor can't stop reading it.