Sep 24th, 2019
Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!
Week Four and the final official episode of Submissions September! We will be back next Monday for one more episode to answer some questions we received. But for today’s episode, we’re talking about the other side of the submissions process. Who is reading these manuscripts? Do they have a process? What are they looking for? Rekka and Kaelyn discuss what is happening on the publisher’s side of this and Kaelyn goes on a few minor tirades.
In case you’re just joining us, this month is Submissions September on the We Make Books Podcast, we’re doing seven (7!) episodes this month all about the process of submitting your novel. We have a lot of awesome discussions lined up and even some special guests. Here’s what will be coming your way for the month:
Week 1 (9/3/2019): Is This Ready For Other People to See?- Submitting Your Manuscript
Week 2 (9/10/2019): My Entire Novel in Three Hundred Words - The Dreaded Query Letter
Week 3 (9/17/2019): Agents of Literature, Part 1: An Interview with Literary Agent Caitlin McDonald
(9/18/2019): Agents of Literature, Part 2: Interviews with Agented Authors
(9/19/2019): Agents of Literature Part 3: Interviews with Agented Authors
Week 4 (9/24/2019): What is Going On Over There? - The Other Side of the Submissions Process
Week 5 (9/30/2019): Now I’m Even More Confused – Submissions September Q&A Episode
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and your thoughts on Eli Manning as a future Hall of Famer. It’s a minimum of six years off, but apparently the entirety of anyone associated with the NFL needs to have this discussion right now.
We hope you enjoy We Make Books!
Rekka:00:00 Welcome back to, we make books, a podcast about writing, publishing and everything in between. I'm Rekka, I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.
Kaelyn:00:07 And I'm Kaelyn. I am the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press. And this is my episode.
Rekka:00:12 It's all yours. I'll interrupt a couple of times, but you throw things at me right back down.
Kaelyn:00:17 This is my wheelhouse. This is my end of things which we are talking about. Okay. We did all this submission stuff. I've sent my manuscript, what's happening to it? Is it being well taken care of? Is someone feeding it, taking it for walks?
Rekka:00:28 No, it's all trampled through the mud.
Kaelyn:00:31 No, we're very nice to manuscripts and submissions. We take excellent care of them.
Rekka:00:35 Also they're digital.
Kaelyn:00:35 Yeah, we have a little, it's a, it's like a playpen submissions portal. They all go there and play together it's adorable. You should see it. Yes. Anyway, so yeah, we kinda, that's what we talk about. This episode is what's happening on the other end. Um, and what I'm looking for, what I'm looking at, what I'm doing and when I say, I mean general acquisitions process kind of stuff. Um, we do, you know, we do kind of mention obviously everything and everyone is different, but there are some broad strokes that are pretty universal.
Kaelyn:01:06 So, um, you know, this is, this is sort of the end of Submissions September. Um, we've mentioned in the episode we are going to do a questions, follow up episode.
Rekka:01:17 Yeah, we've been collecting questions and so we'll take the ones that we have so far, um, time being what it is. There might be more that follow up later, but these are the ones that we've collected in time to record for this month.
Kaelyn:01:28 God, that whole linear time.
Rekka:01:30 Time can be wobbly.
New Speaker: 01:31 Yes. Um, so yeah. Anyway, hope you enjoy this episode. We hope you enjoyed submissions September.
Kaelyn:01:37 It was fun. We enjoyed doing this. Um, I enjoyed doing it.
Rekka:01:41 It was awful because a lot of work.
Kaelyn:01:43 Yeah. It really was.
Rekka:01:45 Between scheduling all the interviews you've heard and uh, and then editing them in different weird ways depending on how we recorded them. Yeah. So, um, yeah, it's, it's been a lot of production on our part.
Kaelyn:01:56 I learned a lot about audio files. Like more than -
Rekka:02:00 More than you ever wanted.
Kaelyn:02:01 It's more than I ever thought would be necessary for me to, so we've all grown here. Yeah.
Rekka:02:06 So after this we're taking off and we're going to go mini golfing and we're going to enjoy ourselves more. We have to edit all the episodes you're going to be hearing.
Kaelyn:02:14 So, um, you know, thanks for sticking with us and uh, we hope you enjoyed the episode.
Rekka:02:19 Thanks everyone.
Speaker 4: 02:28 [music]
Kaelyn:02:37 So, last episode Submission September.
Rekka:02:41 It has been a long and winding month.
Kaelyn:02:43 I have not come out of this in one piece. I'm falling apart.
Rekka:02:46 Yes. And that's not because of submissions. Well, actually we don't know.
Kaelyn:02:49 You don't know that.
Rekka:02:50 We have no proof.
Kaelyn:02:53 Okay. Um, yeah. I, when I was on vacation, I broke my toe and as a result of walking funny on it, I have now messed up my lower back. I'm currently sitting propped up with a lot of pillows behind me and trying not to move too much. Um, it's not the most comfortable I've ever been in my life.
Rekka:03:11 And later we're going hiking.
Kaelyn:03:13 We're going to play mini golf.
Rekka:03:14 That's worse because you gotta bend over.
Kaelyn:03:17 Yeah, I can walk,walking's well actually that's not true. I can't really walk with -
Rekka:03:22 You can do a, an imitation of a walk.
Kaelyn:03:24 Yes. It's fine. Rekka is just going to carry me on her back.
Rekka:03:29 Because my back's in great shape too.
Rekka:03:32 So there you go.
Rekka:03:33 We've got to plan.
Kaelyn:03:34 Our voices are still working. That's all that matters.
Rekka:03:36 Hey, you know.
Kaelyn:03:37 Actually for you that's touch and go.
Rekka:03:38 Yeah, that's not necessarily true, I need water.
Kaelyn:03:42 Um, so yeah, we're talking today about, um, you know, we spent all of September going over everything, leading up to turning your submission into someone. So here's what's happening on the other side. Now somebody gets those submissions and reads them and has emotional reactions at Parvus that someone is me.
Kaelyn:04:04 So, you know, as I said in the beginning of every episode, I'm, I'm the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press. So, uh, you're not sending your work into a black hole. You're sending it to me. Um, and I'm going to look at it and say, sure, let's move forward with this. Or thank you, but we can't accept this right now. Um, so before we really get into this, there was one thing I wanted to clarify and that was that I was surprised when I started getting into this that I'm actually a little bit of a rare breed. There are not a lot of strictly acquisitions editors, any-
Kaelyn:04:44 Anymore. Yeah. Um, a lot of places now, especially especially in our genre and Scifi and fantasy, um, I'd imagine across most places, um, editors kind of are doing their own acquisition process. They're kind of picking what they want to work on. Um, larger publishing houses will absolutely have more of a system in place just because they have to. Um, but a lot of times editors, um, especially when dealing with agents will kind of pick and choose their own stuff. Now they still typically have to take it to a publisher, to a senior editor, and it still has to go before the committee, so to speak.
Kaelyn:05:24 They don't get to just say, Yup, this one I'm taking this. Um, they still have to get it, I don't want to say approved -
Rekka:05:30 But kind of, I mean, like it's a group decision, um, because it's for the entire company, you know, the, the book and its sales will benefit the company and it's a production costs will come from the company's coffers. So it's not just an editor can decide on their own in most cases. Now maybe there are editors who just get a budget and they're like, here's your budget, turn it into something for the company.
Kaelyn:05:54 Those editors have have multiple awards.
Rekka:05:56 Yes, exactly.
Kaelyn:05:57 And the sales and marketing team's also gonna have like something to say about it.
Kaelyn:06:01 But the whole point here is that, um, while there are definitely the acquisitions editors, acquiring editors, whatever you want to call them, absolutely still do exist. Um, especially if you're have having an open submissions period because someone's gotta be in charge of, it's me at Parvus.
Rekka:06:20 Um, so in a way, would you say that an acquisitions editor is more like a project manager these days?
Kaelyn:06:27 Um, I'm not sure project manager is the exact correct analogy, but yes, and similar.
Rekka:06:35 I don't think so, but yeah.
Kaelyn:06:36 Yeah. It's, well, because I really more of a filter. I'm the first one you have to get past, right?
Rekka:06:45 When you delegate from there and you, you make decisions, having seen the broad landscape as a whole.
Kaelyn:06:51 Yeah, it's definitely that. Yeah. And an acquisitions editor will also work very closely with a sales and marketing team to kind of determine like,
Rekka:06:58 Is there a vision?
Kaelyn:06:59 Here's what I think we can do with this book and here's the plan I have for it and here's who we can sell it to, et cetera. How to position it.
Rekka:07:07 Yeah, exactly.
Kaelyn:07:08 So on my end, I'm taking all of that into consideration when I'm looking at these things. So, you know, you submit online, I've got a submissions manager, I've got a portal that I log into and I see everyone's query letters and their submissions and um, and I just dive in and this is very typical. You're going to get into the submissions manager. They're going to give you, um, you know, the steps of how to do all of this. If you go to Parvus's website, we have a video up of, you know, here's how you walk through your submissions process. Um, usually it generates like a number, an ID of some kind, just so you know, you can reference that.
Rekka:07:51 Yeah. I like an order number.
Kaelyn:07:53 Yeah, exactly. I referenced them a lot because I have a notebook that I keep track of all of this stuff in and um, the, this is going to come as a galloping shock to everyone I'm sure, but a lot of the same words get used in titles and stuff. And so I sometimes actually just remember things by their number because you get so many of the same words popping up in titles. I don't want to confuse anything.
Rekka:08:20 In the noun of Noun or something.
Kaelyn:08:22 Yes, exactly The This of The Thing. Yes. Um, so we've talked a lot in previous episodes for submission, September about a lot of do's and don'ts and we'll get to some more of that at the end. But -
Rekka:08:39 But this one isn't so much about what you would be doin, the writer as what Kaelyn is experiencing on the back end in terms of what she receives, what her process is, her thoughts and like the decisions she's making and how she comes to them.
Kaelyn:08:55 And of course I speak for all acquisitions editors.
Rekka:08:58 Absolutely, 100%. Everything you hear is uh, like Ironbound.
Kaelyn:09:03 We are a collective hive mind. I'm communicating with them right now mentally.
Rekka:09:07 That is not true. This is the opposite, uh Kaelyn is an individual and works for one company and other companies may do things differently and contain other individuals who are not part of a hive mind, whatever, Kaelyn would like you to believe about her supernatural abilities.
Kaelyn:09:22 Um, it's true. I'm only part of the only part of the Parvus Hive Mind.
Rekka:09:27 Yeah. So, um, of course what we're saying is that your results may vary with another publisher. Um, that publisher will have their own practices and their own, you know, way of going about this. So, um, this is just to give you some insight, but it is not the end all be all encyclopedia entry on how this do.
Kaelyn:09:47 Now, that said, I will say that some of the things I'm about to say right now, they're pretty universal across the board. One of the things is if I open your submission and you have not followed the submission guidelines, that's probably gotten tossed right away. Um, it's, yeah, we've talked about this a little bit, but it's one of those things that I have hundreds of these.
Rekka:10:08 And you're not going to pick the person that's clearly not going to follow instructions even from the get go when they are supposed to be making their best impression. And can't even follow the instructions you have given and laid out for them.
Kaelyn:10:23 It's harsh to say, but I don't have time for that. I don't mean that to be callous. I don't mean it to be rude. It's a business decision.
Rekka:10:28 It's your first business decision of the query.
Kaelyn:10:30 It's a business decision. But it's also, I mean, I literally don't have the time for this. Um, so if you have done something that, you know, you haven't followed the submissions guidelines, there is a very, very, very good chance, not just me, most anyone interested in acquiring books are just going to go in the garbage. Um, so that's sad. You know, let's say they've got your submission lined up and correct and everything. Um, this is something maybe everyone doesn't want to hear, but I probably have a list of things that I'm interested in.
Kaelyn:11:06 It's not carved in stone. It's definitely not, you know, like pleasant surprises. Absolutely. I love pleasant surprises. Um, but every time we have an open submissions period, uh, we do put, you know, like Kaelyn is interested in this, Colin is interested in this and we do kind of say like, Hey, you know, these are what we're especially excited to look for. Pleasant surprises absolutely happen. Um, but I am kind of on the lookout for certain things and I, we'll come out and admit this, that there are certain things that I'm kind of like, I can't do anymore of this, or we just don't have a space for urban fantasy right now.
Rekka:11:49 And some of this is going to be your bias, just to be clear, like you're human and if you are sick of certain kind of story, there's probably a good chance that it's not something that the team as a whole is really open to.
Kaelyn:11:55 Yeah. And also it might be, well we just acquired two urban fantasies. I can't do another one right now. We have to change it up, be a little, you know, more diverse in our selections. Um, so that said, you know, I'm going through everything. Um, the Colin method is being applied here.
Rekka:12:24 Before we get to that, can I ask?
Rekka:12:26 Cause I don't know the answer to this yet. Um, so say you put out a call for military science fiction.
Rekka:12:32 Is there anything in your system that indicates that that's in a query so you could like sort filter for the military science fiction? So when you log into our submissions manager and um, I would imagine a lot of places do this.
Kaelyn:12:49 You can select which genre you're writing in.
Rekka:12:52 Even down to the sub genre?
Kaelyn:12:53 Oh yeah, well, I mean, we have, you know, for us, we have a lot of different sub genres you can pick from because you know, we only do, well, that's why I said even because it seems like there's a new one every day, so -
Rekka:13:04 I didn't know if it was just, if you've got the basic, um, you know, book code, library codes, you've got custom ones in there.
Kaelyn:13:12 Oh, we've got, yeah, we've got some interesting ones. I sometimes I want to go in there and just add things as a joke to see if anything, anyone picks up on it. Yeah. Um, so we, um, you know, I'm, I'm using the Colin Method, which for those of you who.
Rekka:13:27 Passed that episode.
Kaelyn:13:37 Missed that episode, I know we've run, your first sentence is buying me your first paragraph, your first paragraph's by me, your first page, your first page is buying me your first chapter. Every little bit I read that I like, I'm gonna keep going farther.
Rekka:13:41 And back to the start of that, your query buys, the first sentence buys opening the document.
Rekka:13:46 And so you do read the queries before you?
Kaelyn:13:48 Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Um, and the reason for that is I need to know what I'm getting into when I'm opening the manuscripts to set up an expectation.
Rekka:14:02 But also to like an energy sort of allotment.
New Speaker: 15:09 I am not just purchasing your book. I am purchasing you as a person and a concept and a brand that sounds illegal. I am purchasing your personality.
Rekka:15:21 You are investing in the author. Let's, let's choose some.
Kaelyn:15:28 All right.
Kaelyn:15:29 Well I mean we are buying your book but we're buying into you.
Kaelyn:15:34 And that you as an author are important as the brand. But also I need to make sure that you're not posting awful things, awful things. I need to like, you know, I think we will get to this more when I get to that, but that part of this, but I need to know about you. There's no such thing as writing a book in a vacuum.
Rekka:15:59 Right. So let me ask, so you said that sometimes there are slush readers and sometimes it's just you. So if a slush reader turns away a book, do you ever go, oh wait, I want to look at that before we actually turn it away?
Kaelyn:16:23 A lot of times with slush readers, okay. There, the parameters of, you know, them are completely, are different all over the place. Um, I tell them if this seems even a little interesting.
Rekka:16:31 Okay. Yup, Yup.
Kaelyn:16:32 Yeah. Kick it up. Um, a lot of times for slush readers, like the one we most used them for was when we did our anthology because short stories are easier to do and that was very important for anonymous submissions. One of the other reasons for that is I might send it to someone else. Um, I might send it to editors within our company. Um, we have freelance editors that work with us. Sometimes I might send it to them. So that's why I want to make sure there's no information on there because I just want them to get a manuscript that's come from me that I already said this is cool.
Kaelyn:17:27 And circulate it to the other. So that's kind of the next step. If you're, if this is something that I'm very interested in, what I'll do is I'll say like, oh, okay, uh, Ryan Kelley, he likes this kind of stuff. I'm going to send this over to him and see if that's something he would be interested in working on.
Kaelyn:17:45 Because as the acquisitions editor, I don't get to just you, you're doing this now. Um, editor isn't, you know, Rekka, I'm sure you can attest to this because you've worked with a couple of different editors just at Parvus now they've got to be passionate about the stuff they're working on.
Rekka:18:02 Absolutely. Yeah. I would not want an editor who is only mildly interested in my story or not at all.
Kaelyn:18:10 Yeah. If you're getting assigned things that's well like, okay for copy, edit the final copy, edit fine, get as many eyes on it as possible and someone can just go through and make sure the commas are in the correct place.
Rekka:18:23 But yeah, if I'm working on someone with a developmental edit.
Kaelyn:18:27 Yeah, no, they, they need to be passionate and excited about this. So this is where when I said earlier how editors kind of pick what they want to work on, this is where that comes in. So like, you know, let's say for the sake of round numbers, I started out with a hundred submissions. Maybe 10 of them were interesting enough. We're going to take three books. I will send the ones that I think would work best to the editor, I think would work best with them.
Kaelyn:18:57 And they'll take a look and decide, okay, well I have room on my calendar for one more book. I want it to be this one. So that sounds like it's the end of the story. But here's the thing, it's not always, and I'm going to stop here because I want to backtrack a bit and say this is assuming an open submissions call and you don't have an agent.
Rekka:19:20 Right. That's important to know.
Kaelyn:19:22 Yes. We should've said that earlier. Yes. So if you have an agent, what's happening is instead of just going through this open submissions call, your agent is typically directly in touch with either like me and acquisitions editor or editors specifically that they work with and know, and this is when I said that, you know, editors a lot of times pick their own things frequently. it's through relationships with agents that they have or things that people send them directly to them.
Rekka:19:50 Yeah. This is why you don't see a lot of open submissions calls at a lot of publishers because the editors have already developed relationships with agents and they're, they're getting their slate filled before they could even consider having an open submissions call.
Kaelyn:20:06 Yeah. And a lot of them, a lot of editors will not take unsolicited manuscripts because they just, they'll be inundated.
Rekka:20:13 Right. It's a lot of work to go through all these.
Kaelyn:20:15 Yeah. So you have an agent that you've worked with before, you trust their, their taste, their um, screening process.
Rekka:20:23 You know, you work well together. You know, that if they have an author in their stable, that chances are it's someone you could work with because you know that that author would have to work with this agent. So it's almost like a, it's an endorsement. Yes. It's a patronage, an endorsement sort of thing that, that they can trust you because they know your agent.
Kaelyn:20:46 So, that's, you know, that's where a lot of editors are frequently getting it. And that's part of the reason, you know, we talked last week was all about agents and stuff and these mythical creatures, Unicorns, why they're so important. And you know, it's, it's hard to say because we do open submission calls a lot and I like that we do them, but having a literary agent is very good. Yeah. And it's, uh, if nothing else, it's a foot in the door. It's like a little badge you get. I've got a literary agent.
Rekka:21:23 Yeah. It's a little more fast track to the front of the line. Yeah. It's, um, it's guaranteeing that there's somebody who's gonna speak for your book, um, more than just your query letter.
Kaelyn:21:34 Right. Um, and I mean with Parvus, we've had every book that is released as of when this is coming out.
Rekka:21:42 Right. You got to be specific.
Kaelyn:21:43 We've gotten through our open submissions call, um, that will change soon. But every single one of our books that we've put out already have come through our open submission call.
Rekka:21:54 And that was pretty intentional on Parvus's part.
Kaelyn:21:56 Yeah. Um, it, I mean, I like it. I like that we do that. Um, I like that we can find books from people that just wanted to write a good book and submitted it. And we were like, yep, we'll publish that.
Rekka:22:09 Which was kind of, I mean, having talked to Colin before in other interviews, that was sort of his entire concept.
Rekka:22:14 For wanting to open a publishing house.
Rekka:22:17 To find the books that are out there that he knew was out there that are great and written by passionate people who love writing.
Kaelyn:22:23 Yeah, exactly. So, um, so we found a book by a passionate person who loves writing and -
Rekka:22:30 Who is adorable.
Kaelyn:22:31 And is adorable. And they found, we have an editor who's really interested in it. So what happens next?
Rekka:22:39 You tear that book to shreds. We start over.
Kaelyn:22:41 No. Well before that you're probably gonna get a phone call.
Rekka:22:44 Oh yeah. Okay. Sorry. I just remember the painful part. Phone call with lots of fun.
Kaelyn:22:49 Um, you're probably going to get a phone call from me, but then I need to know about you. I need to make sure that if I go to your Twitter feed, it is not full of horrible misogynistic jokes and pictures. I need to make sure that you're not writing about your favorite ways to torture animals. And yeah, I know we like to think that we write books in a vacuum. We don't, I don't care if you've written the greatest thing in the history of literature. If you're a shitty person, we can't publish that and we're not going to and we don't want to. And maybe some you listening are going, well, shouldn't the book just stand on its own merit? It doesn't.
Rekka:23:48 It can't.
Kaelyn:23:49 It can't these days. It can't because it's not, we're not simply purchasing your book. We are investing in you as a person, as a brand, as an author.
Rekka:23:59 And when they invest in an author, that author's name becomes attached to the company.
Kaelyn:24:07 Exactly. And we're small, but even the bigger places, we, no one wants to affiliate themselves with crappy people.
Rekka:24:15 And you see this happening a lot, um, problematic or otherwise in social media where somebody spouts off and suddenly they've lost their contract.
Rekka:24:26 And you know, better or worse. I mean, we're not going to comment on different -
Kaelyn:24:28 Yeah. That's uh -
Rekka:24:29 situations. Some go, some go sideways real fast, you know.
Kaelyn:24:33 And that's, that's a whole other thing. But the other part of this is that besides just making sure that, you know, you don't have a secret life, um, you know, with the KKK, I also want to talk to you and get a feel for what I think working with you will be like.
Kaelyn:24:49 Because if I get on a phone call with you and oh, it's about time you guys called. I was wondering when I was going to hear from you this, this a 90 day turnaround. I mean, I should have been right at the top of your list. I just called -
Rekka:25:07 You just found yourself at the bottom.
Kaelyn:25:11 I just called to say, we hope you're having a good day. Bye. Um, you know, I want to kind of get an idea also for what you'd be willing to do with the book because as Rekka said, tear the book to shreds that they've already got ideas. The thing is, before I call you, I've already talked to your editor, who I've already said, hey, so what do you think you're going to want to work with on this? What do you, you know, what's the scale of the changes and revisions you're going to want them to make? Um, so you're probably wondering, why doesn't the editor call me? They might, it depends. It's just, you know, I'm the acquisitions editor. I'm the one who kind of -
Rekka:25:48 Spearheads this operation.
Kaelyn:25:49 Yeah. And it's just a little more of a streamlined process where, you know, you're going to talk to me first. It's just, just how it goes. Your editor might be on the call with me. Very possible. Um, so once you get past that, then it's, you know, into contract negotiations and I won't go too much into that right now because we're kind of, that's moving out of the submission phase of things. But then that's, I mean that's the end of the story then.
Kaelyn:26:17 Is the contract.
Rekka:26:18 Then you, from the contract. Once that's all complete, it's get to work, you know, you get your revision notes from your editor and you move into the production and then you're done. This is this whole, uh, Submission September thing is behind you. At least for this book.
Kaelyn:26:32 Yeah. So, um, that's, that's kind of like, I mean, it's weird to feel like we've come to a hard stop, but like that -
Rekka:26:40 That's what happens. It goes off your plate at that point, unless you decide to be the editor yourself.
Kaelyn:26:44 You know, it's the submissions process I think in general is, you know, well, how, how do you go through it? Slowly at first and then suddenly all at once.
Kaelyn:26:55 It's, it's a lot of hurry up and wait.
Rekka:26:57 And then, and then it's everything.
Kaelyn:27:02 Things can progress very quickly.Um, so that's kind of where you end up. Uh, we did, you know, I wrote down some things just to, you know, sort of run through some do's and don'ts about this kind of stuff.
Rekka:27:12 A couple of questions that, you know, pop up in my mind as I'm listening to you talk.
Kaelyn:27:16 Yeah. Um, you know, again, please read the submissions guidelines. I know we talked about this already, but just the fastest way to get your book taken out of consideration is to not do what they ask you to do.
Rekka:27:30 Is to display that you think you are above that process or that you don't know how to read.
Kaelyn:27:37 And it is so easy to just do this. This is not, this isn't a monumental insurmountable task and no one is going to put submissions guidelines up there that are like now once you have killed to the owl, you must address the letter to us in its blood. Yeah.
Rekka:27:55 Although that is a nice additional filter you could use.
Kaelyn:27:58 I mean, um, I don't want people killing owls though.
Rekka:28:01 I was just going to say as to figure out who is willing to kill an owl and you don't want those authors, but that's sort of backwards.
Kaelyn:28:06 Um, I like owls.
Rekka:28:07 Yeah. So like I know having gone through the process of submitting things before that it is nerve wracking to think like, am I doing this right? Are they gonna like me? Do I come off as -
Kaelyn:28:22 Please like me.
Rekka:28:22 Um, do I come off as someone who's, you know, professional, et Cetera. The most professional thing you can do is follow the set of instructions they give you and it makes it a heck of a lot easier to click send on something when you know, like, okay, I have done steps one through five out of five and now I can send to this because I've given them exactly what they asked for. There's nothing left for me to provide here.
Kaelyn:28:47 You actually even then touched on something that I think also is overlooked frequently, which is professionalism. So in my company we publish science fiction and fantasy and there's certainly like a tone and attitude a, it's fun that comes along with it. Absolutely feel free, especially in email correspondence to joke around with me because you will frequently get email responses from me that contain ridiculous things. But part of that is I'll cop to it here and now part of that is a ploy on my end that I'm trying to put the person at ease. Like it's cool, like don't. Um, but that said, and when I was on a Rekka's, um -
Kaelyn:29:31 Previous podcast, Hybrid, Author um, one of the things I pointed out that a lot of people don't think about is your email address. If you have an email address that you've had since like college and what do we call it? SnotMonster27, you know, whatever. Unless your book is about 27 snot monsters, maybe try to come up with one that's like just your name somehow. Um, you know, if you have like some kind of, I won't say ridiculous, but maybe like silly things that are like hold over from your early Reddit days that you know, you still use, it's not a bad idea when you're getting ready to go through this process, one, to have a separate email account to manage all of these things.
Kaelyn:30:15 But two, also something just a little more.
Rekka:30:18 Grounded? Neutral?
Kaelyn:30:19 Yeah. Neutral's good. Just like maybe just your name or maybe you know, RekkaWritesBooks@gmail. Like, you know that you can still be fun with it and you know, but just something to kind of be aware of is, you know, like I got, I get some things some times and people have stuff in their signature that they don't realize is like things you should well, things you should maybe change before you send this to someone you're hoping to work with professionally.
Kaelyn:30:48 Um, so just kind of be aware of that and um, all kind of transition this into the next thing, which I think you were touching on, which is emailing and asking questions.
Kaelyn:31:04 Absolutely do it. If you are unsure of something, I get -
Rekka:31:08 I have not seen a submissions page, like the guidelines that don't include an email address for you to ask questions before you submit incorrectly.
Kaelyn:31:15 Exactly. And um, I will say sometimes I do get questions where I'm like, did you read the submissions guidelines? But, um, we had a problem with our submissions portal this time, just something clicked off and wasn't supposed to. And I got a whole bunch of emails and we were like, oh shoot, that's a problem. And we fixed it. And I get right back to those people and say, thank you, we fixed it.
Rekka:31:39 Yeah, go ahead.
Kaelyn:31:40 Now, um, if you have a question about like, you know, listen, I'm not sure this is what you're looking for. I mean, my answer to that is always, I'm not either, send it over. Let's see. You know, I'm never gonna -
Rekka:31:51 It is open submissions.
Kaelyn:31:52 Yeah. So, yeah. Um, but along those lines and going back to the professionalism, don't start your emails off with Yo. Um, I'm -
Rekka:32:04 Kaelyn is from New York. She gets that enough.
Kaelyn:32:05 I am frequently taken aback by the crassness of some of the emails that I get that - take the time and write, you know, dear whoever. And you know, like at Parvus you can just write "Dear Hive Mind," and I mean, yeah, you can still be cute about it, but like light about it. This is to whom it may concern or, you know, I, I even get the ones that are like, "Hi, I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be addressing this to", but you know, just -
Rekka:32:41 You've tried.
Kaelyn:32:42 Yes. Um,
Rekka:32:44 Don't lean far into like, I don't even care who this is addressing. Yo.
Kaelyn:32:47 Um, I get emails that are just like the, hey, what do I do about this? Like take a minute and say hi, I'm so and so. I'm submitting to your open call. I'm having a problem with this. Be Professional, be considerate, be courteous, be polite.
Kaelyn:33:07 Because right off that if you don't think I am mentally, I am not mentally making a note of this person and when I get to their submission, because what did I say before when I talked to you, I want an idea of what it's going to be like to work with you.
Rekka:33:21 Right. So you've already provided your first clue.
Kaelyn:33:25 Everything, every interaction you have with anyone in any professional setting really. But especially if it's something like this, you're, this is all information we're putting away about working with you.
Rekka:33:38 This is like showing up to the job interview and you're ripped up sweat pants that you've been wearing for four days.
Kaelyn:33:43 Yes. Yeah. So just, you know, be cognizant of that kind of stuff that yes, we're a fun organization. We're cool people we like interacting with and this isn't just Parvus, this is most places. Okay. We don't know you.
Kaelyn:34:02 Yet. Not yet. So just be aware of that. And first impression first.
Rekka:34:08 Yeah. There's a reason your mom and your grandma havetalked about that.
Kaelyn:34:11 Yeah. And I know it sounds silly. It's really not. First impressions are very important. Um, so that's, you know, it's kind of the do's and don'ts a little bit, um, with, you know, other stray submissions related things.
Kaelyn:34:28 Um, one thing and actually Rekka should be the one to talk about. This is uh organizing who you're submitting to and tracking that is very important,
Rekka:34:41 Right. So they're um, depending on how you query, um, well, okay, so acquiring agents, there's a whole system for that.
Rekka:34:49 And much like the submissions grinder for short fiction submissions, it will kind of keep track of stuff for you. But this is the day and age where you never know what's going to strike on the Internet. You want to have a local copy that's tracing all this stuff. So I recommend if you can download, um, your submissions history, uh, in some way to like a excel file spreadsheet. Do that. But at the very least maintain your own spreadsheet and say, you know who, what story and if you have a tendency to keep working on stories after you submit them, like what revision, um, then what, you know the date, the publisher and if you like, you can copy paste your query letter into that, the next cell and in excel in the spreadsheet. And then you know what you've said to them last time. So the next time you submit you don't send them the exact same words again. And also, um, you know the, the salutation at the beginning, the little opening warmup, text.
Kaelyn:35:55 Make sure you change that for -
Rekka:35:56 Make sure that that is not identical with just the names, you've done, you know, find and replace for each, um, each place you submit it to. And then when they acknowledge it, what, um, what follow up conversations you have and the dates and stuff like that, just keep track of it. Because this is stuff you're going to want to refer back to at some point. And if you, um, you know, if you have questions for them, you can write those questions down and the answers and you can just all keep it in one basic like real simple spreadsheet dashboard where you have everything and you can do tabs at the bottom. So each piece, you know, each manuscript you work on has a different tab and, or each publisher has a different tab.
Kaelyn:36:39 I think we're gonna have Rekka do some kind of like a youtube instructional video on the best way to do,
Rekka:36:46 I don't know if I'm the best one because I don't really have a system I, I queried to Parvus and uh, it was accepted.
Kaelyn:36:52 We're going to have you develop a system and um, and along those lines, one thing that I should've brought up earlier, one of the good things to keep track of is if they say expect a response within this time, if not, feel free to follow up.
Rekka:37:07 Yeah. So we've covered that in the previous one. You can even like add a formula to your spreadsheet that calculates the day for you. Like this day, you know from Column D add 90 days and column E displays the day that you sh- you can follow up if you haven't heard. Here's the thing, cause we can't do math in our heads, apparently not.
Kaelyn:37:27 If you submit January sixth - 15th and they say 90 days, 90 days is not March 15th I know in that's three months in the calendar in your mind, but 90 days is April 15th ish, whatever it is. The way the, actually that is because of February. So -
Rekka:37:45 February makes up for the third one.
Kaelyn:37:47 So get out, like if you don't want to do in the spreadsheet, get out a calendar and count out 90 days because 90 days is not three months.
Kaelyn:38:00 90 days is 90 days.
Rekka:38:02 Right. And you can, if you find counting to 90 difficult because of distractions or whatever, or nerves, just Google. What's the date? 90 days from today,
Kaelyn:38:15 Because there is, I don't know if this is just a pet peeve of mine, but when I get ones that are like, hi, I submitted 90 days ago and I go and look and I go, no you didn't. You submitted 60 days ago, but thanks. And the ones that I, it's amazing. It's always the people that submitted like the first week and it's like you could not have submitted 90 days ago. We were not open for submissions 90 days ago. And then it puts me in the position of I don't want to write the back and make them feel silly. Like I want like I don't want to have to go 'Actually you submitted 60 days. Like I'll talk to you in a month.'.
Kaelyn:38:49 Um, so yeah, that's um, that's kind of the, the end of the submissions process is the contract then. So that's also the end of Submissions September.
Kaelyn:39:02 Almost. Cause we have one last uh, one last treat here.
Rekka:39:06 Probably be a quick episode I think.
Kaelyn:39:07 Very quick. We're actually going to try and keep it at, we keep, we always say we're going to and then we never, yeah.
Kaelyn:39:13 We've got, we're gonna do one last episode. We are going to really try to keep it short. It's just we did, we got a few questions and we want to kind of round out Submissions September.
Rekka:39:25 Yes. And thank you to everyone who did send the questions. If you feel like we skipped over your question, we promise you we didn't. Um, but we can cover it in another episode.
Kaelyn:39:34 Yeah. Well, and I mean, who knows, maybe that could turn into an episode.
Rekka:39:38 Yeah. I might end up being an entire episode on So-and-so. I'm, we hear you if you sent them. Thank you. And uh, we will get to your questions. Either you'll hear it in the next episode or we will, uh, talk about it in the future.
Kaelyn:39:51 Yep. So, um, that's the end of the official episodes of Submissions September we will be back, uh, and I guess we're going to do less than a week because we're gonna yeah, we're going to put that up the last day of September.
Rekka:40:04 Just to stick the whole -
Kaelyn:40:05 Just to round it out. Yeah, exactly.
Rekka:40:08 And then we will have-
Kaelyn:40:09 We'll be back to our regular schedule.
Kaelyn:40:12 Of every other week.
New Speaker: 40:14 So thank you for sticking with us all September. We know this was a lot of listening to us talk
Rekka:40:19 Hopefully. It was exciting for you because these are the things that people are always wondering but not necessarily finding answers to.
Kaelyn:40:25 Yes. So, um, you know, as always, if you have questions that, you know, after listening to this, you know, send them to us, we'll, we'll still talk about this stuff. It's not like we're never going to talk about submissions ever again.
Rekka:40:38 This is it.
Kaelyn:40:38 This is exactly everything.
Rekka:40:42 Um, so you can find us @WMBcast on Twitter, Instagram, and on Patreon
Kaelyn:40:47 And um, thank you. Yeah. Thank you. So we'll, we'll be back in six days now?
Kaelyn:40:52 This time with uh, with questions. So thanks everyone and we'll see you in six days.
Speaker 5: 40:58 Thanks.