Thursday, October 21, 2010

Some people are brain dead, or close to it.

I receive many submissions for 4RV Publishing. Most submitters are polite, looking for a home for their manuscripts. Most go to our website and follow our submission guidelines, like people do who really want to be accepted by a publisher or agent.

However, some people don't believe rules apply to them, or only the rules they choose to follow do. They are the ones who send back a reply to an email stating that submissions not following the guidelines are automatically rejected. Some of these responses show that the senders are brain dead or close to it. I'm cussed by email because I follow "petty" rules rather than recognizing the great American novel.

The latest automatic rejection, which stated we expected submissions to follow the guidelines and which included a link to the guidelines, triggered the following reply, "So you will let a great novel slip by because of some silly rule?"

I didn't send a response, but if I had, I would have said, "So you will allow your ego and lack of brains keep your novel from being considered? Now who or what is silly?"

I just don't understand. Don't writers realize that they need publishers or agents more than publishers or agents need them? 4RV has at least forty submissions for each opening in our schedule. People who refuse to follow the guidelines give us a quick and easy way to reject something (which is something even the major agents and publishers do).

Currently, almost all traditional publishing houses are cutting back on the number of manuscripts they accept. Yet, apparently the zombies walk -- guess it is the season -- or write. Why wouldn't any writer want to do anything and everything possible to make a good impression if he wants to have a chance to be published? What makes people think they are doing publishers or agents a favor by submitting?

I don't have an answer.


Aidana WillowRaven said...


Sometimes, a little humility and common sense will get people a lot farther.

Connie Arnold said...

There's just no understanding some people. Courtesy and common sense should be a given in making a submission (and in other matters as well). Your providing guidelines is a courtesy on your part to help those submitting to do so properly. Many of us really do appreciate that!

Penny Ehrenkranz said...

I can understand missing a line or misreading something in the guidelines. It does happen, even to the best of us.

What's inexcusable is an author complaining or cussing out the publisher who rejects the manuscript. Another publisher I work with is fond of saying that writers don't read guidelines.

Perhaps if these authors are rejected often enough, they will finally realize it pays to read the guidelines.

Dawn Embers said...

That's crazy. I don't understand why some writers are like that either. I haven't done much submitting, but I always try to do my best at following each publishers specific guidelines. They make sense and I would never question them, let alone call them silly.

The internship at 4rv is helping me see the industry from the publishers' side. It's very interesting. But glad I don't have to deal with those submitting authors.

Holly Jahangiri said...

I don't think writers would enjoy having me as an acquisitions editor. A few years of giving critiques on our favorite web site have left me with an uncanny ability to say "toss it" and move on. I even do that with some of my own work, now! ;)

Seriously, as Dawn points out, it would be good if all would-be authors spent at least six months working at a publishing house, in acquisitions. They have no idea what comes in "over the transom" and think publishers are being "hard a**es" about their rules, not realizing that rules are like the first coarse filter at the water treatment plant.

Unwillingness or inability to follow publisher's guidelines indicate: lack of basic writing ability (sometimes valued MORE than a moment of brilliance); lack of courtesy (no concern for the editor's time); future difficulty working with editors (who will provide directions for changes the publisher wants to see prior to publication) - a whole host of things that aren't even just about the content of the manuscript, but are equally important.

They think it's just about that one manuscript and that one little rule. But when a hundred others have made it through that first filter, and twenty are actually good, and there are ten slots open...

It's so easy to say "no." And I'll bet THE Great American Novel has YET to fall into your lap.

Vivian Zabel said...

Dawn, yes, being on the publisher's side of the experience is a different perspective. Oh, email me, please.

Oh, Holly, you would be an excellent acquisition editor.

Sheila Deeth said...

Aghghg! I love the response you didn't give. Very nicely put.

Vivian Zabel said...

Thanks, Sheila. It's so hard to keep the fingers quiet when people show so much ignorance. But, I did, just shared my thoughts with everyone. Heheheh