Too many “don’ts” and not enough “do-s”

Writing submissions and slush piles are about to drive me crazy.  I have written and crafted illustrations for a Bible storybook which I have entitled The Creation. Now I am trying to figure out which publisher(s) to submit it to.   I went to Books a Million and to Barnes and Nobles to see which Christian publishers were represented there and to locate books that were most similar to what I am writing or planning to write.  Then I went home and looked up what I thought were the best matches in my Children’s Writers and Illustrators Marketto learn the particulars on how to submit my manuscript.  Every publisher I had selected was either not included in the book or had statements saying they were not accepting unsolicited or un-agented manuscripts. 

I cried. 

I posted my frustrations on my writing groups’ forums. 

I’ve been advised to attend conferences so I can “pitch” my manuscripts directly to some publishers.  I’ve only attended one such conference, and at that conference we were told specifically not to try to pitch our manuscripts to the publishers present.  We were told that it was rude.  But the lady I shared my motel room with encouraged me to look for Christian conferences.   I can’t afford the conference in Florida that she recommended, but I plan to apply for a scholarship for one that is closer to where I live and hope I will be able to get off work to attend it.  That one isn’t until May. 

Another option that was suggested to me was to send my manuscript to The Writer’s Edge.  If it was good enough it would be pitched to the publishers.  I studied their web page and everything looked good.  I was willing to spend the money to get a foot in the door with these publishers, and was preparing my manuscript and filling out the form to send it in.  Then I did a search on one of my forums and found all the reasons why I shouldn’t waste my money on it.  I’m looking a little at another similar writers’ service, but they expect money up-front as well.  The writers on the forum said that they heard publishers say at the conferences that they seldom look at the pitches on the printouts they get from these places.  I almost cried except I was relieved I didn’t have to spend all that money.

So here I sit at ground zero with a manuscript that I think is absolutely wonderful and I’m wondering how I’m going to get an editor to even look at it.  I don’t have a string of published work to brag on though I’ve done a lot of writing.  I have written feature articles for newspapers and have self-published some family books.  I was published once in a take-home story paper through the United Methodist Publishing House, but that was several years ago. 

I worked at the UMPH a short time while everyone still used typewriters and from that experience I understand about the slush piles.  I have personally separated the junk from the usable material for one of the editors there.  I also know that if I had sent something that had the quality of the book I am submitting, it would have been considered seriously.   

I suspect that the use of computers to make writing and editing your work easier before printing it on paper has played a major part in the tremendous slush piles that have become a burden to the editors.  It was my interest in writing that led me to spend over $2,000 for one of the first IBM PCs thinking which I thought I would use forever.  That was the first of many computers I have owned, my next one was a fantastic step up with a  hard drive that held a whole 40MG–enough room for all my software and files!  Unfortunately there have been many distractions in my life coupled with bad advice (like don’t send your best manuscripts first), and I have failed to persist in submitting the manuscripts I have written.   I have always found the hardest part of writing is researching the publishers and keeping the submissions in the mail.

So here I sit, highly frustrated, wishing I could think of some way to get my manuscript on a few editors’ desks.  I have a 2008 Christian Writer’s Market on order which will be delivered in the middle of January.  It may give me some more ideas.  But my restless A.D.D. spirit wants to do something NOW.  Why do I keep learning what not to do without finding what I can do?

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2 Responses

  1. I’m not a writer, but I do empathize with your frustrations. Unless you have some serious connections, it takes a lot of luck to get your work published. A friend of mine, who work in the publishing industry, told me that the business has been on a downturn in recent years. Publishers are inclined to go with more established authors in an attempt to reduce losses.

  2. Thanks, undercanopy, but I believe you underestimate yourself. You ARE a writer. Your blog is a testimony to that.

    I spent some more time studying my notes from my visit to the bookstores and discovered I have two really good options worth persuing, so I feel somewhat encouraged with that new ray of hope.

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