Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Another Strange Submission

I find some authors amazing. They react in just the sort of way where you shake your head and wonder if anyone could be more “different” or “strange.”

From my years in publishing, I've met many authors who stand out in a crowd and are “characters.” Some of these characters stand out in a positive way and actually sell lots of books because of how they stand out. Then there are the other types of characters who are just way outside the norm—and that's who I'm writing about in this entry.

Several weeks ago an author called the founder of Morgan James and left a voice mail message. He didn't have a chance to return the call so he passed it along to me. I called this author and listened to his hot book idea. 

I was open to whatever he wanted to send and asked him to send it via email. He didn't have an email address. This fact should have been my first clue about his submission. Instead the author asked for my mailing address so he could send a hard copy. I gave him my address.

Today I opened a certified, return receipt package—with a completely handwritten submission. The author didn't include a cover letter in the package but even the title page had several misspelled words. The entire package was handwritten on a legal pad paper—front and back. Each chapter was carefully stapled together.

The only address on the package is the return address on the outside. There is no contact information or phone number. I've reviewed thousands of submissions but never seen one of these in the nonfiction category.

Many years ago when I was running my literary agency (which has been closed for several years), I did receive a handwritten novel submission but it was in a large notebook and came with the return postage. The submission which arrived today had no return postage or self-addressed stamped envelope. I'm tempted to set this package aside and hold it for several weeks—under the assumption the author will call me and want it back. Then I can give him a chance to send me the return postage. 

I will remember this author's submission—but not for the reasons that he wants to be remembered. In other entries, 

I've written a great deal about the proper way to send a submission. Here's some of those basic details:

1. It should always be typed and completely error free (without typographical errors or spelling errors).

2. Check with the editor or agent to see how they want your submission. Most of the time these days at some point they will want an electronic version of it. The key is to read the guidelines on their website then send it in the format and fashion that it is requested.

I've created a book proposal checklist which gives the essential ingredients in a submission to an agent or editor. I would encourage every author to review this list before they fire off their prize idea to an editor or agent. It will help all of us in the publishing world receive better submissions.

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1 Comment:

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Jon Guenther Left a note...

All I can really say is... WOW!


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