The Open Submissions period for Kristell Ink is
fast approaching (Feb 1st-Apr 30th NOW, and runs until April 30th, so I hope you’re all polishing your subs and making them the best they can be, because I’m looking forward to reading them! On the blog today we’re having a chat with the Acquisitions Editor* from Kristell Ink about what she’s looking for in a submission.
Well, gee whizz, Joey, what the hell is an Acquisitions Editor?
I’m glad you asked.Nice blog, by the way… An Acquistions Editor is the person who chooses books out of the dreaded slush pile for future publication. The slush readers pass the submissions they like up the line, and I get to chose the four or five novels Kristell Ink will hopefully publish in 2017/18.
My friend Mike has just pointed out that what I actually am is a Gate Dragon, and I’m hoarding your submissions…
2017? That’s a helluv a long time…
Yes. Everything, and I mean absolutely everything, in publishing takes at least five times as long as you think it will, and approximately ten times as long as you’d like it to. Slush reading, copy and line editing, proof reading, cover art… all these things take time. You’re looking at at least a year between submission and publication, and it’s more likely to be 18 months. But think of it this way – your book is your baby and you want it to be the best it can be. Do you want things done fast, or do you want them done right?
(It always makes me twitch inwardly when I hear people saying “I finished my book yesterday, I’m going to upload it to KDP tomorrow!”)
You’re choosing four books? I don’t like them odds. How many submissions are you likely to get?
Probably about 500. When the Big Five publishers hold open subs they get thousands of submissions. They will generally take on… about four. So the odds are long, but they could be longer! It’s your job to reduce the odds against you.
Reduce the odds against me? How do I do that?
Start by writing the very best book you can possibly write. Then edit it (you’d be surprised how many people miss this basic step). Polish it until you reach the point where it’s the shiniest manuscript it can possibly be BEFORE you submit it. Then send it to beta readers you trust to tell you the truth – find your harshest couple of friends and get their opinion. I’ve seen manuscripts in slush that have basic spelling and grammar errors on the first page, sometimes ones that even a cursory spellcheck would have picked up. No publisher is going to take on something that looks like it’s going to be a lot of additional work.
Stick to the submission guidelines. Consider the submission guidelines as the Ten Commandments of a particularly wrathful God who will strike down both you and your book with a well-placed lightning bolt should you deviate from them by an atom. If the publisher wants 30 pages of a double spaced mss in 12pt Arial with a 500 word synopsis, you’d better SEND 30 pages of a double spaced mss in 12pt Arial with a 500 word synopsis. Not 35 pages, not in 14pt Courier because that’s what you always write in, not a 600 word synopsis. It sounds mean, but of those 500-odd submissions, publishers are going to be more inclined to work with a person who can follow a simple set of instructions. Again, it creates less work for them. Anything that makes life easier for the publisher is going to be a small point in your favour.
24/01/2016 – Edited to add – Make sure your name and email address are included on your manuscript, not just in the email you send when you submit. Often manuscripts become separated from their original emails. If I want to contact you, I want to be able to look at your mss and find your name and email address quickly, not have to go looking for it.
23/04/2016 – Edited to add – you also don’t have to watermark your work, or plaster all over it that it’s a proof copy. If we like your book, we’ll let you know. We won’t steal it and sell it down a back alley to some disreputable manuscript organ-harvester. A copyright symbol on the cover page is enough.
Don’t send something the publisher doesn’t publish. Again, it seems a no-brainer, but it happens. Kristell Ink is a Fantasy and SF novel publisher. We publish Fantasy and SF novels. Not poetry, not biography, not books on the History of String. If you don’t know what a publisher publishes, find out before you submit. If you send your Space Opera to History of String Publishing, it’s going to be rejected. Do your homework. Find out about the publisher and see if they would be a good fit for your work (that link at the top of the page might be helpful). Buy some of the books they’ve published recently, follow them on Twitter to see if they’ve expressed an interest in an particular sub-genre that they might be looking for (*cough* Space Opera *cough*), check out their website and the blogs of their authors. Don’t be afraid to interact with them on social media, especially if you have any questions before you submit (though asking 30 times a week “Have you read my submission yet?” is considered Bad Form and is not going to help your cause. Be friendly. Don’t be a dick.)
And while we’re in the realms of “Don’t be a dick, ” do not BS. Don’t sent a novel claiming that it’s a short story. Don’t claim to have met and spoken to somebody from the publishers at a convention when you haven’t, because we do talk to each other – the best one we had was the person who claimed he had met Sammy at World Fantasy and discussed their manuscript with “him”… Because again, no one wants to work with someone who starts that relationship by being dishonest. You need a working relationship with your publisher.
Get yourself on social media. I already mentioned Twitter, because I pretty much live on Twitter ( @hierath77 – say hi! ). Show me you’re willing to interact with potential book buyers. If it comes down to a hard choice between two equally good novels, which it might, that final decision might very well come down to the author’s online presence, or their presence in the SFF community. You might write the best book in the world, but it’s never going to sell if you don’t help the publisher to tell people that it exists.
So if I do all that, I’m in?
Not for certain. But doing all the above is likely to enhance your chances of getting through the dreaded slush pile and into the cave fiercely guarded by the Dragon-Goddess. Write the very best book you can, and good luck!
*hint – that would be me…
This work by Joanne Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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