Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bound Submissons

A question from a reader: Is it O.K. to submit a self-published book for a query in lieu of the manuscript?

Yes, it’s okay, but I wouldn’t do it. To an author it looks nicer and more polished, but to an agent or editor it looks like something that has been published, edited, and is now in final and perfect form. So if an editor sees something that’s almost publishable, but needs fixing, her mind has already decided that’s not possible (no matter how many times she’s told). Sending a manuscript says to an agent or editor that this is a wonderful book that’s nearly perfect, but the author will still work on revisions to make it absolutely perfect.

I can’t explain exactly why it is, but I’m certainly less enthusiastic about a book coming in bound than I am about a manuscript. I would also suggest you avoid putting your acknowledgments and dedication in your manuscript. Not only is this the signal of a newbie, but it also says that you are discounting any work your future agent and editor might have to do for you.



Anonymous said...

Editors especially like to create their own vision for a book from first sight of a manuscript, and you're right- if you send in the book all bound with a cover, it ruins that freedom and puts other things in their mind.

Besides, there are many famous books that were pushed from one genre to a different one that the author never imagined: and if an editor sees a cover they may not get the idea that sparks the move.

Sandra Cormier said...

I expect agents also prefer to have the manuscript in its usual format because it's easier to pack several of them in one bag for a weekend of reading. Having a bound book sliding around with the other pages would be awkward and annoying.

It would be harder to jot down comments in the margins, too.

Anonymous said...

A writer I know said that newbies should stay far away from any book about writing in the Writer's Digest Series. He also said agents roll their eyes and can instantly recognize when someone has followed information from one of these books. He claims query letters do not have to be written in the active voice and that writer's should not thank an agent for reading a query letter because it's their job. I didn't agree with anything he said, but thought I should ask a pro. Is any of this true? What's your take?

Heather Moore said...

Great info, Jessica. I definitely agree, although some have advised otherwise.

Vyrdolak said...

I would not like to see a submission as a bound book--in fact, I'd prefer manuscripts submitted in electronic form. I want a lot of flexibility available, and I'm going to be designing the book inside and out, anyway. "Bound manuscripts" may go out for cover blurbs after some editing and proofing--I don't want an author sending me one. I actually did not know this was done, before now!

"Anonymous:" I can't speak for agents, but as a small press, I couldn't care less what format the query letter is in as long as it's written well and presents the requisite information. A query letter full of spelling and grammar mistakes is obviously a bad sign, but I'm simply not that picky. I just want to see the author's book. As far as I'm concerned, the query letter is nothing more than bubble-wrap. But that's just me. As a micro-publisher, I'm a maverick, I know that.

Inanna Arthen, By Light Unseen Media

Anonymous said...

Before this blog, I have the feeling that it was impossible to get good information concerning getting your MS read by an agent. I have to wonder how many thousands of great novels went unread.

Conversely, the more this information gets out there, the higher the threshold becomes in the desperate plea for attention. I would guess that I should get on it and make my own desperate cries heard now that I've been told a bit more about what it takes.


Cocaine Princess said...

Dear BookEnds,
Is it possible for a literary agent to dismiss a manuscript based on purely their own personal taste? Or do they keep an open mind?
Cocaine Princess

Mark Terry said...

Where can I sign up for a cruise on the SS Fantasy?