Rebel Without a Cause

Why are there so many rules for submitting and publishing a book? It seems I can't even keep track of all of them. So I've decided to rebel. I'm going to write the best book I can and submit it however I want. What do you think about that??

If your book is really, really, really, really, really, good (to the nth power), then eventually, someone will probably publish it.

But it probably won't be me. And it probably won't be your first choice(s) in publisher.

Here's the thing--we get so many submissions that DO follow the rules that when we get one that doesn't, it usually doesn't even get a serious look. What a submission that doesn't follow the rules tells us is that either 1) you don't know the rules and you can't be bothered to do the basic research to discover what they are--in which case, publishing your manuscript will take a LOT of instruction and hand-holding on our part; or 2) you do know the rules and you think you're too good for them--in which case you're going to be a pain in the neck to work with and it's going to be a fight on every point. Either way, an editor will probably decide that your book will just take too much time, energy and frustration to publish.

If you're going to keep this attitude, I'd suggest submitting to a publisher who also doesn't follow the rules. Maybe you can win them over with the force of your personality, or kindredness of spirit. Either that or self-publishing. But you'd better look for a distributor who doesn't follow the rules too.


Anonymous said...

LDSP--are you making this up? No one would seriously think this way . . .right?

LDS_Publisher said...

No, I am not making this up--although I did fudge a little bit, as in it was not a question e-mailed to me, but an EXACT quote of what a writer friend said to me recently.

This friend is highly intelligent, a good writer, and generally has a little common sense. She has successfully self-published a non-fiction book but wants to break into national fiction. If she could think this was plausible (and she was 100% serious), I thought there might be some blog readers who think this too.

My response on the blog is what I told her. However, since we are friends, she refuses to believe that I might know something about how the business works. :)

Josi said...

I've heard the same thing from up and coming writers--just sure that they need to stand out to the publishers and that submitting is just a formality anyway. Maybe you could blog about what a publisher expects to receive. I know There are details that vary between publishers but there are some general standards and maybe knowing those things would give submitting writers something to build on as they research specific publishers.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Submitting properly is a professional courtesy. It shows that you have pride in your work and that you respect the publisher's time. I'll use an example: I have several desktop icons to software I use all the time. When I turn on my computer and grab the mouse, I expect to know exactly where to click to go where I need to go. When someone moves my desktop icons, it wastes my time to sit and look at every icon on the screen to find what I'm looking for. When a publisher picks up your manuscript, they should know exactly where each element of your information should be found and they shouldn't have to waste time looking for it. My feeling is -- it's not that hard to learn the rules of submission. If you can't take ten minutes to learn how to do it properly, then this isn't the industry for you.

Unknown said...

I agree, Tristi. Taking the time to learn the general guidelines for manuscript submission (for example, black ink on white paper, double-spaced, one side of the paper only) and then a publisher's specific guidelines shows that you are a professional.

A writer may be an artist at the keyboard, but when she/he is submitting a manuscript, a writer needs to set aside the artist hat and put on the business hat--because selling a manuscript is a business transaction.

I cannot comprehend why a writer who wants to be published would engage in the self-defeating practice of annoying a publisher by ignoring basic guidelines. Why give the publisher an instant reason to say no? The rules are NOT hard to learn or hard to follow.

Keith Fisher said...

I agree. there aren't very many guidelines anyway. I have a question about those guidelines.

I have been troubled about a submission I made. I may have made a boneheaded mistake.

I sent a SASE with my manuscript but I cannot remember wheter I stamped it or not. It may have been a SAE. if that is the case and you recieved it, would you reject it and would you not send word about it.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Know what, Keith, I think any publisher worth their salt would overlook that as an honest mistake. If they're going to use that as their reason to reject you, they aren't the publisher for you anyway. Here's a funny -- I got a rejection where the publisher forgot to include the rejection letter. I had to ask them what it was they meant to tell me -- I got the box, but no letter. They make mistakes too and they'll need to leave room for us to do so as well.

iowasmiles said...

I am a publisher (Mapletree
Publishing Company
), and I don't understand this last comment, "any publisher worth their salt would overlook that as an honest mistake." The premise of the question in the beginning was that the submitter was fed up and decided to ignore the rules. That's not an honest mistake.
We publishers are running a business, and the time we spend evaluating submissions has to pay off. If an author ignores the rules or doesn't bother to look them up, sorry, but that IS an indication of an author that's going to be hard to work with, so it's a quick trip to the rejection basket. That's a pretty easy decision for us.
An honest mistake is a completely different matter. We're looking for good material, and if it looks like you respect our processes and your writing is good, we may take you on.

LDS_Publisher said...

I believe Tristi was commenting on Keith's mistake--forgetting to stamp the SASE.

But thanks for backing me up on the rest of it Dave. I think it helps readers of the blog when they get a second opinion to mine.

Please feel free to comment as often as you like--or to send a guest blog for posting.