Friday, October 12, 2012

Retreat Guest Blogger Margaret Riley

Submissions: Think Like A Publisher

I’m Margaret Riley, co-publisher, along with my husband Bill, of Changeling Press LLC. We publish short speculative serial fiction -- Women’s Erotic Sci-Fi, Paranormal, and Dark Fantasy Romance.

Like most small business owners, I wear a lot of hats. I’m a publisher and editor as well as an author. I like to tell people I have the greatest job in the world -- I buy books for a living. You’ll notice I didn’t say I reject books for a living. In the small press market, no one gets paid to reject manuscripts.

Most authors spend way too much time worrying over what font and spacing to use and how far to indent paragraphs, and not near enough time making the query short, concise, and informative. I have a macro that’ll fix your formatting in about three seconds if I don’t like it. Click. Poof. Done.

What I want from your query is a brief overview that tells me who you are and what you’ve sent me, so I can get on to reading the book. In order to think like a publisher or submissions editor, you need to see what we see when we read your query letter.
1) Does the submission meet our target market?
2) Does the author appear to have read our submission guidelines?
3) And the major question -- Will it sell?

As an editor, I can help you learn to take a decent sentence/ paragraph/ plot and give it punch. I can show you where your weak spots are and help you fix them. What I can’t do is sell a book you never send me.

I also can’t sell a book you send me that I never read because your cover letter tells me you didn’t do your homework -- it’s too long, too short, does not fit any of our genres and themes, or in general does not appear to have been written with our house in mind.

So. Rule one for any publishing house, anywhere. Read the submissions guidelines. Really read them What is the publisher asking for? What are they specifically not asking for?
When we open your submission package we’re expecting your completed work, attached as an RTF file, your bio -- who are you, in the publishing world, and what you know about how to sell your book to the public (blogs, chats, general marketing strengths) and the basic information about the book.

We need to know the things we’d ask if you were in a job interview and we wanted to hire you -- what makes you a fit for this company. We also need to know how well you know your way around the web -- not because we want to reject you or your work, but because we want to know, if we contract you, what kind of help you’ll need getting started.

And finally, we need to know enough about your book to know if we want to read it. You may have written the world’s next best seller 100K thriller. We don’t publish 100K thrillers. We sell Women’s Erotic Sci-Fi, Paranormal, and Dark Fantasy Romance. So if your cover letter tells me you’ve submitted this work to the wrong publisher, I’m not going to read it.

There’s one more thing we’re looking for. Something beyond this book. Think of the submissions process as a dating service. We’re looking for you. Because we sell books. Plural. We’re willing to work with new authors and strange and twisted plots and themes, because that’s what we do -- we publish speculative fiction. That means we’re looking for stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else. That also means we don’t expect your first book to sell like water in the desert. We’re not investing in your first book. We’re investing in this book, and the next, and the next…
Virtual Goodiebag with free flash fictionand a discount code.

I have the coolest job in the world. I buy books for a living.

Margaret Riley
Changeling Press LLC
Razor’s Edge Press


brandi said...

What an interest job!

calstephanie said...

Hi Margaret,

I would love your job! I buy books for a hobby. LOL :D

Christine Mead said...

I would love to buy books for a living! My hobby is buying and hoarding books!

Lorna said...

What great information! I really learned a lot from your post.

Are most/all of the books you read in an electronic format? How many books do you usually review in a year?

Mybradybunch6 said...

How would an author submit to you?

Fannie said...

What an interesting job. I buy books for pleasure and I appreciate the people who write them. You make life much more fun. The information you have given us is priceless. Thank you.
P.S. I am not a writer but my daughter is and as of now she is non-published. I am going to give her this info.

Linda Henderson said...

I love to buy books for myself and I'd love to read them for a living.

Charlene Beverly said...

Thank you for this information. As an "up and coming author" (as my friend likes to call me) I appreciate the direction.

Alexis said...

sounds like an awesome job!

flchen1 said...

Wow, Margaret! That IS the coolest job!!

Shadow said...

Very cool! I would love to have your job. Though theyd probably fire me for going over board. haha

Beth said...

Sounds like a great job.
And as a hopefully future author, advice I will definitely have to remember.