Monday, February 8, 2010

Where Do Your Manuscripts Go? (And Other Fun Facts)

Every day, aspiring writers mail their manuscripts to us here at Peachtree Publishers. Many wonder where exactly they go and why it takes months to hear a response. I'm here to tell you. 


Step 1: Our fabulous USPS carrier brings us big bins filled with mail. 
Step 2: The mail is sorted and manuscript submissions are put to the side.
Step 3: Manuscripts are then stamped with the date they were received and placed in a bin.
Step 4: All manuscripts are moved to the back of the office and filed with the other submissions.
Step 5: Oldest manuscripts are read first. Several months' worth of submissions are in front of the newest arrivals.
Step 6: Each manuscript is carefully read and considered. Promising manuscripts are passed on to a senior editor, while manuscripts that won't work for us are sent back with rejection letters, as long as a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) is included. If no envelope is received, the manuscript is recycled.
Step 7: Once a letter has been sent, every manuscript is logged with the author's name and title info.

It is important to keep in mind that getting a rejection letter from a Publisher doesn't necessarily mean that you are a bad writer, or that your story isn't any good. Sometimes a story doesn't appeal to the editor that reads your manuscript, or simply isn't a good fit for a publisher. It is important to look at a publisher's catalog before sending in a submission to see if your story relates to others on their list. I often tell writers to look up publishers in Writers Market and read submission guidelines before submitting. Knowing who you are sending your story to is very important. For example, we sometimes get submissions for Southern adult fiction because Peachtree originally published in that genre. If writers had taken the extra step and read our guidelines, they would know that we publish children's picture books, middle grade, and young adult books now. In the time it takes us to respond and mail your manuscript back, you could have sent it to a more appropriate publisher.


A few more tips:
  • READ! If you want to write picture books, go to the library and read everything you can. How else will you learn what vocabulary is used for a certain age group, how many pages make up a typical picture book (it's 32, by the way, including copyright page, title page, etc.), or what books are popular right now. This goes for any genre.
  • If you're submitting a children's picture book, include your FULL manuscript. I don't recommend including illustrations, because in the event that a manuscript is acquired, the publisher retains the right to choose an illustrator. 
  • If you're submitting a chapter book, don't forget a table of contents, a summary of the book and at least three sample chapters. An editor wants to know where your story is going but also wants to get a sense of your writing style.
  • Do not call constantly to check on your manuscript. Give a publisher about six months to respond, then you may call. Remember, not all publishers notify you when a manuscript has been rejected.
  • We know when a manuscript is sent to us that it is important to the writer, which is why it takes months to hear back from us. We read every story and give it the attention it deserves. Even as a smaller publishing house, Peachtree gets approximately 20,000 manuscripts a year, so please be patient and understanding about time.
  • Have someone edit your work before sending it in. People will sometimes send in revised editions of manuscripts they have sent in earlier. We cannot sort through thousands of submissions to find yours and switch out the old one for the new one. Be sure that when you mail something it is a complete and final draft.
  • When you include a SASE, make sure that you have enough postage on it and that the envelope is big enough for us to mail your manuscript back if you want it. I would even add extra postage as sometimes the cost can go up over the course of several months.
  • Keep writing. If you are a writer, you will do it whether you are published or not. The more you write, the better you will get.
  • Keep submitting. I am a firm believer in the idea that a good story will always find a home. It just may not be as soon as you would like.
Do you have more questions? Leave a comment and I will answer to the best of my abilities. Keep an eye out for future posts as well, where I will explain about cover letters, acquisitions processes and anything else publishing related I can think of!




7 comments:

  1. Great post for new and aspiring authors as well as those looking for a bit of insight as to the behind-the-scenes workings of a publisher! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oh, I love this kind of scoop. :)

    I just discovered your blog today. Great stuff.

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  3. So glad it's helpful! Check back weekly for updates and let us know if there you have publishing questions you would like us to answer on our blog.

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  4. Whaat does SASE stand for?

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  5. SASE, SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE.

    WILL PEACHTREE PUBLISHERS ACCEPT A PERSONALLY DELIVERED MANUSCRIPT? I LIVE IN THE ATLANTA AREA.
    ALSO, THANKS FOR THIS WEBSITE AND THE INFO.

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  6. How can an author know a manuscript has been received? Should we just conclude that if it doesn't return to us in the mail that it has reached you? Do self addressed stamped postcards work for this purpose? Thank you for the info!

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  7. Does Peachtree accept simultaneous manuscript submissions to other publishers?

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