Over the last several years, I’ve traveled the country teaching at various conferences and meeting with new and experienced writers about their manuscripts or book proposals. I’ve met them face to face and I continually process submissions through the mail or email. When you sit face to face with writers, they are usually surprised at how quickly you can evaluate a project. Am I always right on target? No. Do I miss it some times? Yes. But normally my experienced eye can spot excellence. I’m drawn to it like a moth to a light.
In the search for excellence, I begin to feel like I’ve seen almost every type of submission. Yesterday I was reminded again that in their core, writers are creative and innovative. Something new is always coming into my range of consideration. Here’s an actual submission which I received yesterday (with blanks to hide the specifics):
“Dear Terry Whalin:
I am a Spanish physician who lives in __________. I have written a novel about ____________. The book is in Spanish, contains 130,000 words. I have written articles in the medical field but this is my fist book. I attach a summary and a sample chapter.
Thank you in advance for your attention.”
This note included two attachments. I thought, OK, the book is in Spanish but let’s look at the two attachments and read the English samples. Wrong. The synopsis of the book and the sample chapter were in Spanish. I doubt this doctor had a clue that I lived in Latin America from 1979 to 1982 and I can read and speak some simple Spanish—but not to the degree necessary to evaluate the editorial viability of a project in English.
I gave the submission a chance and tried to review it. I hit respond to sender, pasted in my form rejection note with the addition that we were an English language publisher and sent it to him. At least he received a response from me but there was little I could do. It was a “creative submission.
Once again, this submission shows the simplistic way that writers approach the matter of publishing a book—and the need for education. If you have used Book Proposals That Sell, I’d love to hear from you about the difference it is making in your writing life. I find these notes encouraging and I try to respond to them. During one large dinner last week in Denver, a writer stopped me and introduced herself saying, “Thank you for writing that book. I followed every scrap of advice and I wanted you to know I got a book contract.” Now that’s the type of information I love to hear. Wow. I didn’t do it on the spot (not quick enough) but I have been in touch with this writer to get the specifics. It’s why I wrote this book in the first place—to help writers achieve their dreams in the publishing world.
Finally I have always loved to read the comic pages of the newspaper. It’s amazing how truth is woven into the fiber of those pages. Just look at what Lynn Johnston has put into today’s For Better or For Worse about book writing. It may brighten your day as it did mine.