10.12.2006

Talk about Raw Suckage!

Dear Miss Snark,

I was bouncing and flouncing my way around the web this morning looking at various publisher websites and came across one that I thought would be a very good fit for my novel. Reading their submission guidelines they do accept queries directly, and since I dont have an agent (yet) I was considering sending a query. Then I came to the last two points of their submission guidelines:


8. Please allow at least four to six months for your manuscript to be considered. If you haven't heard from us after four months, and wish to make sure your manuscript got here, please write a letter stating the genre, the date of submission, and the title of the manuscript, rather than calling. We will respond promptly.
9. We do not accept simultaneous submissions.


Now, the 4-6 month thing I can handle - they are busy, they have a lot of stuff to review. But... the last point about not taking simultaneous submissions - does this mean they honestly expect me to basically put my novel into "Literary Limbo" for six months and not send it out to anybody else for representation.

Am I misreading something here because this seems a bit much to me. How bad would it be to send to this company but still seek representation elsewhere. They have published some quality books from some well-known authors, but the time frame still seems ridiculous to me.


This sux.

If it takes this long to review a submission, fine. You email the author before you start reading and ask for a five day exclusive if it's still available. You take your chances some better organized, more efficient, smarter, hungrier company beat you to the punch. (spiked punch of course).

This isn't just ludicrous, it's disrespectful.
Screw them.

It's also the hallmark of a company that doesn't have confidence you'll choose them over anyone else. I NEVER ask for exclusives and most of my fellow agent buddies don't either. I figure if you want to work with me I'd better be able to tell you why I am a great agent for your book and what I bring to the table that those other sloths in the industry do not. I specifically do not want to sign anyone who hasn't queried elsewhere. That's the fastest way in the world to get a client with buyer's remorse the second something goes awry (and the first rule of publishing is that EVERYTHING goes awry).



Exclusives stink.

If you queried me about a novel that was tied up for four to six months, I'd probably pass. I like to sell my clients' work, not watch it grow mold.

18 comments:

Elektra said...

I've seen the same thing--my main worry is, what if an agent wants to sign me, and I have to say "Sorry, but you can't shop this for anothr four-and-a-half months."

Don said...

Actually those terms aren't that different from what's typical in the litfic short story market for submissions to magazines. Looking over the shortlist for pubs that I use as a checklist for where to send my stories off to, 3 months is a typically requested response time with some two requesting up to 6 months and 3 requesting up to 3 months (this is just those where I have an advertised response time). If I wait exactly the amount of time requested for each story before moving to the next one on the list, it'd take five years to get to the bottom of the list where the handful of magazines that accept simultaneous submissions exist (in actuality, I view this as incentive to be such a prolific short story writer that I have to get to the bottom of the list because I have stories outstanding at the magazines at the top of the list. Or, viewed negatively, the bottom of the list is there because the people at the top of the list have sent me a letter saying, "for the love of God, please STOP").

Anonymous said...

The writer is talking about publishers -- not agents. And publishers have a habit of taking from 4 months (the fastest) to several years to respond -- if they respond at all, and so many don't even respond these days.

You said don't think agents should ask for exclusive submissions, but surely you know that publishers do ask for this all the time -- especially for us unagented writers.

Several writer's organizations recommend that, after four months exclusive, writers should go ahead and send the ms. out to someone else.

Love your Blog. Lots of great advice here.

Anonymous said...

At least one major fantasy publisher has publicly stated that they both take a year to review unsolicited manuscripts and don't allow simultaneous submissions. And there's a second that I think, but am not sure, has the same sort of policy.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Isn't this from the guidelines for Tor/Forge? Seems terribly familiar.

writtenwyrdd said...

So, just curious here, what is the difference if you decide to submit to other companies while this company drags their heels? How would they know, and would it matter if they found out? If they really like the book, why would they pass on an opportunity to make money? That would be rather like the old cutting one's nose off to spite one's face, wouldn't it?

Simon Haynes said...

Surely a query isn't the same as a manuscript submission? If so, query them first, and if they're interested, THEN you decide whether to submit your manuscript on an exclusive basis.
No?

Anonymous said...

I was thinking exactly what writtenwyrrd was. A manuscript might take 5-10 hours to read through, yet they have it for 8760 hours. For most of those hours, it's just sittin' there, doing nothing productive. Why not send it out? How would they know?

Gerri said...

Isn't this from the guidelines for Tor/Forge? Seems terribly familiar.

Sounds more like Baen. Yet another reason to land an agent first. Those go on top of the pile.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if you send it to SlowHouse and then you get an offer from an agent, it would be legitimate/professional to write them and withdraw your submission (without giving a reason) and let the agent do her job of shopping it elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

It is from the Tor site

Anonymous said...

Poisoned Pen Press insists on exclusivity, too.

Stacy said...

the first rule of publishing is that EVERYTHING goes awry . . .

so, so true.

Ms Baroque said...

Welcome to the best poets can expect - except that 99.9% of poets can't get an agent, and poetry books make no money!

Basically, it's a winner. That must be why there are so many people writing poetry.

Miss Snark, I did like your notion that the "no simultaneous submissions" clause shows a lack of confidence. Essentially, it is childish selfishness on the part of companies, I think: once they have read and chosen your ms, they don't want to find that someone else has it after all! (And, of course, if you sent the ms to 2 companies called, say, A & B, and B got back to you faster - being smaller and more eager - would you be able to ask them to wait, because the reputation-making A still has it in hand? No....

I've also had my queries - where I'd thought something had fallen into a black hole - occasionally answered with a terse note saying that the editors were very busy and could not be expected to reply to everyone who submitted!

In any other industry this would be considered death-inducingly unprofessional.

Kendall said...

Original person said they were considering sending a query; the guidelines talk about manuscripts. Apples & oranges, no? And I believe (at least in F&SF) the few houses still taking unsolicited manuscripts have similar guidelines. They're inundated with slush and I suspect get most of the stuff they publish from agents; when would they have time to read the junk in the slush pile? Of course it takes them forever, have you seen Tor's slush pile? ;-)

As someone else said, this is (part of) why you get an agent....

Samuel Tinianow said...

I recently switched Spinning Whorl magazine (probably what don would call a bottom-of-the-list market, but anyway...) to accepting simultaneous submissions. My observations, having not allowed simultaneous subs for the better part of a year beforehand, has been that:

1. People do it anyway
2. The stories that get accepted elsewhere and withdrawn are almost never ones that I regret

Granted, Spinning Whorl does not publish novels, but I think it's a fair bet that if you have to withdraw your manuscript from an editor's slush pile because it's accepted elsewhere, they probably won't miss it. They're more likely to experience something akin to happiness.

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I just got back from Viable Paradise where we, the students, asked Patrick Nielsen Hayden about simultaneous submissions. He was very clear that when Tor says that they do not accept simultaneous submissions, it means they do not accept manuscripts submitted to multiple publishers at the same time. Submitting your manuscript to Tor and an agent at the same time is ok. So, no, they do not expect you avoid sending your novel out for representation while they consider your novel for publication.

I'm confused by the letter Miss Snark received. Sentences like "How bad would it be to send to this company but still seek representation elsewhere." conflate publication and representation. It goes without saying that they are two very different things.

If you have found an agent by the time they have decided to buy your book, I suspect that they would be very happy. Patrick Nielsen Hayden said that he prefers that authors use agents for business matters. This keeps his relationship with the author on an editorial level.

Steorling said...

I know I'm commenting really late....I've been stuck in a web nexus for a while, just got released for good behavior...anyway. I have been shopping around for a publisher and/or agent for two years trying to get comfortable with the "scene" and this is in fact standard operating procedure for most genre fiction. I found it really appalling myself, but no one else ever said it wasn't "standard" for the industry. Thanks for taking a stand against stupidity. I'm too dang old to wait for 20 rejections if they take a year each!!!