Submitting Submittable Submittals – Part 2



The last post here was all about the Good Old Days, when writers dealt with the business end of things via the Post Office, and not a small amount of clerical work in making submittals to agents and editors.

But things have changed. Drastically.

First, the publishing industry has changed and that affects all those persons downstream from the published manuscript. The larger publishing countries are now run by corporate entities. They don’t spend  time developing writers any longer. Business dictates that profits be maximized and maximized quickly. So now, when editors at these corporations meet, each one’s job is to persuade the rest that his/her client’s “product” is the most valuable among all the others vying for preferential treatment.

This means that any necessary development of a writer will happen through a literary agent’s relationship with the writer. I’m sure that this is occurring in some agent/author relationships, but I’ve not heard of them personally. What I DO hear is that agents will work with writers on specific manuscripts, not in the context of the writer’s overall development. And what I hear in that regard as well is that agents will ask a writer to tailor the manuscript to the corporate standards of characters, genre, story flow, point of view and style of writing. Clearly this retards creativity and innovation.


But be that as it may, there may be a tremendous amount of time expended between the agent and writer, and the writer may be asked to spend a great amount of money resolving issues with the agent. In the best of cases, however, most agents are accepting digital query letters, and many of these receive quick turnaround. In many cases the writer may receive a reply to the e-query within one to three days. And many of these agents will accept electronic manuscript files, again saving  the writer a great amount of money and a not insignificant amount of time in negotiating this hurdle on the way to publication.

But this applies mostly to the largest, most prestigious publication houses. In submitting to the smaller houses, the writer may very well be dealing almost completely with the publisher/editorial staff. And these are more open to innovative structure, writing style and type of style, including hybrid genre manuscripts. In these cases it’s not unusual for a capable writer to be signed immediately to a publication contract.

So the digital revolution and the corporatization of publishing are remarkably different in nature now than then. Some of these changes are good, some bad, for everyone from author to reader, and what this implies is that the digital revolution as it applies to writing and publication is not yet complete.


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Indie Booksellers Are Adding Up


The following article from the Associate Press saw print in May, 2015. this should be good news to all avid book readers as well as writers trying to market their books.

The independent bookseller community continues to expand, through new stores opening and old stores adding new locations.

Core membership of the American Booksellers Association grew from 1,664 companies last spring to 1,712 this year, the trade group told The Associated Press on Tuesday, the day before the BookExpo America publishing convention and trade show begins in Manhattan. The association also benefited from the recent trend of sellers opening new branches, with ABA members now in 2,227 locations compared with 2,094 in 2014 and 1,651 in 2009.
The new numbers will be formally reported to association members later this week during BookExpo.

The ABA appeared in dire condition at this time six years ago. Membership, which topped 5,000 a quarter century ago, had been declining sharply as thousands of stores closed because of competition from Barnes & Noble, Borders and The economy was still suffering badly from the financial crisis of 2008. E-book sales had been surging since Amazon launched the Kindle in 2007, often costing physical stores their best customers.

Down to just 1,401 core members in 2009, the association has reported an increase each year since. During that time, Borders has gone out of business and Barnes & Noble has been struggling, more likely to close stores than to open them. Print books have remained the primary medium as e-sales leveled off.

Association CEO Oren Teicher cites three other reasons he believes are significant and ongoing factors in the independents’ revival: decreasing costs of technology, the “buy local” movement of the past few years and the relatively smooth transition from older owners to younger ones, with the Colorado-based Tattered Cover among the stores changing leadership.

“A decade ago, when people were ready to retire, they couldn’t find anyone to take over and ended up closing the business,” Teicher says. “Now, some of the most prominent stores in the country have changed owners. And the new owners bring a whole new sense of energy – they’re more tech savvy and sophisticated. Their energy is contagious. They give everyone else a sense of possibility for their business.”

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Branding and Then Some



What does it mean to be published by Random House? By Penguin? By Scribners?

In the age of big house buyouts, the beancounters could care less, it seems. But the readers do. And so do the writers. This op-ed piece by the New York Times wonders, as I do, if it might not be better for the big houses to consider how readers, writers, self-publishers, and other publishers see their brand.




Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

The Slow Death of the American Author/NYT

Scott Turow has it right here (see link below) the business community, even the fledgling digital world, while fighting among themselves for percentages of the take from books have all but forgotten the one who came up with the various intellectual properties – the authors.




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Ian’s New Gambit


Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan

One thing I enjoy about what we call this particular version of postmodern literature is the tinkering with structure, and McEwan is a master of that talent. Too, he, like most gifted writers, is a student of human tics, psychology, the subtleties that make us unique, and he’s clearly mastered gifting his characters with such uniquenesses. But to the story:

A young woman, Serena Frome, is hired by Britain’s MI5 to award a young writer, Tom Haley, with a money grant in order to, hopefully, groom him, as he rises in literary prominence, to take a politically acceptable posture in his writing. But Serena immediately falls for Tom, and as their relationship grows to mutual love, she wrestles with the ethical dilemma of whether to inform her lover of her clandestine part in his good fortune. Tom does rise – immediately – to prominence in Brit literature, but that puts additional strains on  Serena as her role in his life is laid bare.

If this sounds like a rather pedestrian storyline, don’t let it dissuade you from reading Sweet Tooth. Why? Because the book is as accurate a portrait of British life in the early ‘sixties as one could conjure. It’s filled with secrecy, ideological overreach, the beginnings of the sexual revolution, and the yet-chauvinistic attitude of men toward women. And let’s not forget booze, dope, and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s also a meditation on writing, the writer’s life, the necessary subtleties of novels and short stories that make them worth reading, and on publishing then and now. In the end, though, the seemingly pedestrian storyline isn’t really McEwan’s at all. We’ll let you read the book to resolve the puzzle of that statement.

There is one aspect at the beginning that this reader fails to appreciate: an overlong paraphrasing of another novel Serena has read. But McEwan’s literary and storytelling gifts are many, and they completely overwhelm such a minor quibble.

My rating: 18 of 20 stars