9/8/11

I'm Really Not Sure How to Answer This...

I got this email in April:
I found your blog on bookcovers and I'm submitting a book this week to Deseret Books and am now completing the second book of the trilogy. There are no LDS perspective book out like these. My first book has taken me fourteen years, and now I will produce the second and thied in the next three months and they are bestsellers. What can we do for each other? I have cover illustrations in mind for books two and three and have a sketch for book one. If I don't hear from you in the next 24 hours, Deseret will get first crack at an unprecedented experiential trilogy. Thank you in advance for indulging me.

And this one in May:
Hello, I was just turned down by deseret publishing on my first book of this project. I'm 75% done with the second book and will then immediately complete the third of the trilogy. There has never been books like these as they are unique and experientially based. Can you help me?

Both were from the same person.

Where do I even begin? Clearly, you need to do more research on how to query and how to submit.
  1. I don't do a blog on book covers. I do a blog on helping authors get published. I did a contest for book covers awhile back...?

  2. If it took 14 years to write the first book, I have absolutely no confidence in your ability to write two more books in only three months.

  3. Until they are published, you have no idea whether they will be bestsellers or not.

  4. If you are going to publish traditionally, cover illustrations are not your responsibility. The publisher designs the cover, not you.

  5. If you want control over the covers, you'll need to self-publish, in which case, you won't be contacting publishers.

  6. You never, ever, ever tell a publisher they only have 24 hours to decide to look at your manuscript.

  7. I'm not a publisher. I write an advice blog for authors.

  8. If I were a publisher and this was a real submission to me, I would not indulge someone who so clearly does not know what they are doing. I would not even respond. I'd click "delete"—end of story.

  9. You do not know what other authors are submitting. You cannot claim that your manuscript is "unprecedented." The publisher may have rejected many manuscripts similar to yours or they may have something just like it in the process of being published.

  10. If you sent Deseret Book an email similar to the one you sent me, I'm not at all surprised they turned you down—for all the reasons I listed previously.

Can I help you? Yes. An author's first job is to write a very good manuscript. Their second job is to research industry standards and learn how to submit a query and/or manuscript properly.
  1. Go to your local public library and check out some books on how to query and submit manuscripts to publishers.

  2. Read them.

  3. Follow their advice.

And lest anyone think this is an unusual query, let me just say that during my summer vacation, I received no less than four very similar emails. (Which causes me to wonder if I am being punked.) This one, however, offered the most teaching moments.

8 comments:

Anna Buttimore said...

Also the writing style of the query itself engenders no confidence whatsoever in the actual manuscript. The first sentence is way too long and contains too many different points. They got the name of Deseret Book wrong, and ironically it should have said "LDS perspective books" rather than "book" in the singular. "Third" is spelt (Eng.) wrong, and it's way too early in the relationship to discuss covers even if the publisher did want any input. The writer makes assumption after assumption. For such was self-publishing created.

Jennie said...

Once I would have thought the query was a hoax, but I get similar demands for reviews. Your answers are perfect.

Maria Zannini said...

It never ceases to amaze me when I read letters like this.

But I remind myself that we were all new at this at one time. As long as the writer is willing to learn, I cut them some slack and try to steer them in the right direction.

On the other hand if they insist on acting like a speshul snowflake...

Janice said...

A writer need only google 'query letter' to get some much needed help. I think the first thing this writer needs to do is realize that they are one out of a million writers. They are special to their family, but the publisher has no idea who they are. That may sound harsh, but it's reality. Their query letter is what makes them special. Sending out a letter with poorly formed sentences, typos, and demands does not make them special. It makes them annoying.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Oh, dear.

Susan said...

Wow. This person has a lot to learn.

Kate said...

Is this person in too much of a hurry to actually read your site or any other reputable ones? There is so much free info on the internet to help newbies avoid these types of embarrassingly naive mistakes.

LDSP, thanks for all you do to help writers.

Betsy Love said...

Some people go through the learning curve. Some get flung from it. This query sounds like he'll end up in the $.99 Kindle book edition which his mother, best friend, and spouse will purchase.

Before I sent my query letter, I made sure that it would catch an editor's eye and ran it past my ANWA friends. Thank goodness for a great critique group--so valuable in today's competitive market.