Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Beyond the Form Rejection: jumping the gun

From the incoming queries today:

I am writing to ask if you are interested in representing me. I have written a business book entitled X

I have started submitting it to publishers that I am in discussion with. I would be glad to send you some sample chapters if you are interested to see more.

My reply: form rejection.

Beyond the form rejection however is this:

I'm not keen on stepping in to a project after it's started, and once you've sent your book to a publisher, you've started.

Here are the steps that were bypassed:

1. Polishing the proposal.  Even if you think your proposal is perfect, a second set of eyes can pick up many things you miss. And, let's be honest, most proposals aren't perfect. They're not even close.  I can give you ten names right now of queriers and clients who are in the throes of learning that.  We're polishing their proposals and for some of them, the process can take months.

2. Tailoring a submission list to editor's tastes, and publisher's strengths.  A writer can't do this on his/her own.  Not all business book publishers are equal and the editors who work there are looking for different things.

3. Sending to all the publishers who might be interested at the same time.  If you only query the publishers you know, you're missing out on a lot of good companies.  My job is know all of them.  If I come in half way through the submission process it's MUCH harder to get the proposal in the hands of all the right editors with enough time for them to consider it carefully.

Even if this had been a book on a topic I was red hot to represent, knowing the author had jumped the gun would but a serious hitch in my gallop toward offering representation.


mhleader said...

Getting a shark's-eye-view of the agent's thought process for this situation is VERY helpful! With a little luck, at least some of us won't make that mistake.

Which of course means we'll make other, far more creative--and possibly more disastrous!--mistakes. But THIS mistake will be off my personal list!

Anonymous said...

That was all very interesting - even though I don't write non-fiction, but what really stuck out was the fact that a shark gallops. Who knew.

Colin Smith said...

@donna: They do when they ride sea horses. :D

Anonymous said...

@Colin, ooooohhhh. *smacks forehead*

Terri Lynn Coop said...

*wipes screen* *glares at Colin*

This also smacks of "I think I know how the traditional publishing process works and I think I am special enough to sidestep it."

And that is ten pounds of "nope."


Lance said...

The first sentence shows the author has not read enough of this blog, much less followed it with real religious fervor.

Pamala Knight said...

I guess I have a "to that point" type question. What are the Shark's feelings about requests made by editors after contest wins/placements? Say for instance, someone gets a request for a full from an editor. Where does that fall in the litany of things to do or not do when trying to find an agent?