Many times people (usually non-writers who are naive or uninformed) have asked me, “Why don’t you just make a list of all the publishers available and send your manuscripts to every one? A publisher is bound to take it eventually!” This may or may not be true, and with a computer, following such a plan would seem to be a simple and easy thing to do. However, there’s a fatal flaw with this thinking, one that affects all writers.
Besides the high frustration level from all the rejections that will result when writers fail to do basic research on the kind of manuscripts each publishing house is looking for, editors’ are then flooded with submissions. Most of these submissions are inappropriate for their house, thus the dreaded slush pile. Over and over at writers’ conferences, editors speak of the overwhelming number of manuscripts they receive that are nothing like the books on their particular lists.
For example, textbook publishers often receive picture books. Publishers who do specialize in picture books receive YA novels describing teen angst. Even the larger houses who publish many different types of children’s books lean towards certain types of books. This is when an authors computer comes in handy. It’s easy to check publishers’ catalogs and guidelines online and to understand each one’s publishing niche. This is the first step any writer needs to take before he or she even thinks about writing a book or magazine piece.
Perhaps some writers still think that by using the “scatter-shot” method of submitting, their “excellent” manuscripts will so impress editors that they will want to publish something “different,” i.e., that writer’s book. But the truth is that as more and more writers do this, the slush pile grows larger and larger... thus the reason many publishing houses are closing their doors to ALL unsolicited or un-agented manuscripts. This is sad news for everyone.
We owe it to ourselves and to our fellow writers, aspiring and already published writers, to pay attention to the obvious first step and be aware of each publishers specialties.
When we do this, everyone in the publishing industry benefits.
c 2008 Marjorie Flathers