Are You Still Submitting Blind?


Are you still submitting blind, to people you know nothing about and have never met? Why?


This week, I’ll talk about submissions.

Know Your Audience

You should always know your audience. This is a personal business and editors buy manuscripts based on personal preference. That makes sense. If you don’t like reading mysteries, why would you commit to the long process of editing a mystery?

Here’s a snippet from an interview with Arthur Levine, the American editor of Harry Potter, on Harold Underdown’s Purple Crayon website:

OLSWANGER: How does a new writer best approach you?

LEVINE: By first showing that they are approaching me because of me, and not because of my title. A writer should approach me because of other books they know I have edited, or because they have a piece they think is particularly going to appeal to me. I am an individual. I think that’s true of every editor I know, but yet it’s funny, writers forget that. They are used to the idea that this person sits in judgment and therefore they forget that it’s just another human being who has likes and dislikes. Spend the effort to find out what that human being’s history is.

OLSWANGER: You mean, by looking at the books she’s edited?

LEVINE: Yes. Most human beings don’t have a published record of their tastes and interests, the way editors do. It’s much easier in some ways to get to know the taste and style of an editor than it is to find out about a person you might want to date!

Read the full interview.

How to Get to Know Editors

One of the best ways to find out more about editors, their likes/dislikes, etc. is to attend a conference, especially if you can do a manuscript critique with them. My picturebook, OliverThe Journey of Oliver K. Woodman sold to a Harcourt editor who critiqued it at our local conference. She asked for a revision and eight months later, offered a contract.

A second way to find out what editors want is to do an online search. Often, you can find an editor’s blog, authors who mention their editors by name in an interview, or some other mention. Members of the SCBWI can use their publication (for members only) entitled, “Edited By.” (last updated August, 2006).

A last popular way to find out what editors want is to NOT find out. That is, you find an agent who knows editors and their preferences. Of course, that means you must find out what the agents like before you submit to them! (The SCBWI listing of Agents was updated, April, 2007.)

However you do it–you should know something about the editor before you submit. Otherwise, it will come straight back.

As Always, It’s Easy to Stay Connected

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