We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! Today I wanted to talk a little bit about submissions. We’ve had a TON for our first issue of The Hungry Chimera, for which we are very grateful to you all!
Afton and I are VERY lax when it comes to our submission guidelines, as many of you may have come to know. But, you can bet that other places aren't so easy (or as awesome, but that's my opinion).
Take, for instance, a fancy magazine that’s been around for a while. With how many people they have submitting to them, having stricter guidelines stands as a way for them to eliminate people who can’t follow instructions. Sucks for those writers, especially if they’re amazing. But, life sucks sometimes, and isn’t fair. Boo hoo!
For some of you, you’re very new to this whole submissions process. It can be very daunting, but hopefully knowing that every writer, at one point or another, had to figure out the process for the first time, helps a bit.
I haven’t personally submitted to many places (possibly 10 different magazines/journals), and for the most part they have similar guidelines. Some were more lax (like us!) and some were pretty hardcore, down to demanding pigs blood on the inside of the envelope. Just kidding, but seriously…
Anyways, the way I came to look at it was this: each magazine/literary journal/publishing company was like a teacher. Some look down their nose at you through the computer screen, wondering why you’re bothering them with such trash (as I often refer to my work), and dismiss it for not having the right heading. On the other hand, some may give you pretty easy steps to follow for submission, and might even throw in some great feedback if they can’t currently accept your work.
Does that help at all? Maybe not. But let’s take a closer look at real examples.
First off, you’ll want to make sure the place you’re looking to submit to falls in line with what you’ve written. You wouldn’t want to submit a scary mystery to a company that exclusively publishes romance novels. Next, make sure you’re submitting to the right place within the company, as some large name companies actually have sub-publishers.
Take Penguin Books, for example. There is the normal, Penguin Books, but there is also, Penguin Young Readers. This is a very simple example, but just be aware that some companies may have various branches that accept a certain genre of literature.
Going deeper, let’s look at the submission process. We'll keep going with Penguin Books.
How do I submit my manuscript or abstract to Penguin for publication?
Penguin does not accept unsolicited submissions, proposals, manuscripts, illustrations, artwork, or submission queries at this time. This includes submission of work previously published elsewhere. We are also unable to provide draft support, translation or ghostwriters for aspiring authors.
If you would like to have your work or manuscript considered for publication by a major book publisher, we recommend that you work with an established literary agent. Each agency has manuscript submission guidelines.
I’ve pulled this excerpt straight from the submission page on Penguin.com. As you can see, many publishing companies will ask that you go through a literary agent/agency to submit your work. “Another submission?” you ask? Yes. I’m afraid so.
Now, this is a very common (albeit annoying) requirement for large-name companies. It makes sense though, doesn’t it? How many thousands of unsolicited submissions would they receive and have to drudge through to find one that might be salvageable? If it’s been screened and accepted by an agent, however, a company like Penguin Books would be much more willing to set aside their coffee for a moment and read the scribblings of your mind.
Now that you know that many companies require submissions through an agent, what do you do? Find an agent, of course!
With a quick little google search, you’ll see that the first suggestion may be to open up a popular book and flip to the acknowledgment section. Why? Because the literary agent will be listed there. Authors list them as a way of thanking them for their help. If not, that author will have some ‘splaining to do. Amirite?
Ew, that almost hurt to type. Back to agents. Looking through books you can certainly find information on literary agents. Maybe that's how you would like to find your own. If not, check the interwebs. I was able to track down a site that lists many agents and their accepted genres. Clicking on a random agent, I found the following information:
Accepts E-mail Queries: Yes
Interested in Representing: Fiction and Nonfiction
Clients Include: John Leland, Will Hermes, RJ Smith, Terry McDermott, Ellis Weiner, Steven Kotler, Preston Lauterbach, A.E. Hotchner, Robert Greenfield, Alex Tizon, Robert Young Pelton, and Kevin Sites
Electronic submissions only: firstname.lastname@example.org; fiction: query letter with two chapters; nonfiction: query letter with proposal.
Simple enough, right? This specific agent asks for a simple query letter with only two chapters of your work if you're submitting fiction. Keep in mind that as you look for an agent, they will have specific requests, as shown above, and it is important that you follow said requests for submission to the agent. Some may be easy, as the one above, or some may be pretty intense in their requests.
Once an agent accepts your work, your next step will be to submit to an actual publishing company/magazine/etc. Exciting! Find the right company, and submit your work, with the help of your agent. Again, FOLLOW ALL STEPS FOR SUBMISSION! I can’t stress this enough. Wouldn’t it be horrible to be turned away because you used the wrong font or didn’t lick the stamp a certain number of times? (Just kidding, most companies require electronic submissions only! Snail mail is for losers, and people who hate trees. But we love books that are made out of trees, so maybe we hate trees...oh no...)
Moving on before my brain melts: I hope that this blog has helped simplify the submission process, even if just a little. When it comes to taking on the big bad world of literary agents and companies, be sure to do your research!
We at the Hungry Chimera have enjoyed and appreciate the flood of submissions we received for the first edition. As a small company, we tried to keep it simple for submissions. For some, it may have been a first time, and hopefully the simple process helped. For others, maybe you’re well versed in the ways of the literary world and its innerworkings. Either way, we encourage you to take new leaps and bounds in your writing; submit to the big names out there. Why not? Give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Again, do your research, follow their submission guidelines, and give it a go.
And for future reference, remember that you’ll always have a home here at The Hungry Chimera. We look forward to many more wonderful submissions in the future. Good luck, and Happy New Year!
Penguin submission reference: http://www.penguin.com/aboutus/faq/#manuscripts
Literary agent reference: http://www.pw.org/literary_agents/paul_bresnick