Tuesday, 30 May 2017

How NOT to Approach a Publisher

“Angry Female Showing Middle Finger” by stockimages
Today, out of the blue, I received an email from someone I don't know.

It was from a person who wanted me to publish their manuscript. The following is what their email said:

Dear Publisher

I am writing to you about a manuscript I have finished about my mothers time in a Nursing Home..They destroyed my mother and many others. It was one of the hardest I have ever had to witness. I needed to put it into a manuscript for other's in my position to read and learn by 

my mistakes.( It is a true story),. 

It has been some time since I wrote this manuscript. Now I want to try and get my story out there after what I have just learnt of the treatment to my brother.

My sister in-Law has just put my brother into a brand new Nursing Home paying huge amounts of money. One week and my brother is having the same terrible treatment my mother received, so so bad.

  If I can't get this published then I will do it myself, but hoping you might  just  be interested.

I spent 2 years visiting my aged mother in a Nursing Home, three weeks at a time, from morning until 11am to 8pm.

Staying all day in a Nursing Home is a real eye opener, it is just horrific. Something that wont leave my mind.

 The treatment my mother received was appalling, also what I witnessed happening to another residents was just so bad. I reported it all to the  of the Dept. Health and Aging .They had a board meeting and agreed that I had a case to do a accreditation.

I have had an editor working with me on the manuscript. She also thinks there is need for it to be published.

 I also had a 19 page report on my manuscript checked by Dr. Joseph M Fernandez ( the reviewer) from Curtin University Western Australia.

Would you be interested in taking a look at the manuscript? . My manuscript is called  N***** H*** D******* (name of manuscript removed for privacy)  If you are interested I would like to send a copy of my manuscript

If I had read this story I would have known exactly what type of Nursing Home would suit for my mother.

Now, there were four things wrong with this attempt at a manuscript submission.

Firstly it was not addressed to me personally but to "Dear Publisher." So this was an obvious clue that this same email was probably being sent to several different publishers.

Secondly, it was abundantly clear that their manuscript was going to be nothing more than a rant about the aged care home the sender put their mother in. Also the grammar and typos were numerous, so I naturally thought that if they're this bad at writing an email I don't hold out much hope for their manuscript.

Side Note:  I had a fit of laughter over their use of the word "accreditation" which means that something is of a high or acceptable standard while the emailer was actually trying to say that they were complaining of poor standards. "I reported it all to the  of the Dept. Health and Aging .They had a board meeting and agreed that I had a case to do a accreditation."

Thirdly, they didn't attach any part of the manuscript. It's standard practice to at least send the first three chapters, but this person was offering nothing upfront but wanted a response before sending the whole manuscript. This was a strange way to submit a manuscript to a prospective publisher.

Fourthly, and most importantly, I don't accept unsolicited manuscripts anyway. All the sender had to do was visit my submissions page (to which there is a link on EVERY SINGLE PAGE of my website) which clearly states

"DO NOT, under any circumstances, submit a manuscript to Cheriton House Publishing Pty Ltd."

And also:

"Any manuscripts received by mail will not be read and will not be returned."


"Also please note: we have not, and never will, accept manuscript submissions by email. So please do not email a submission query or email your manuscript."

Now you would have thought that offering this much straight forward information would stop anyone with a modicum of intelligence emailing me an unsolicited manuscript (or the offer of one).

My submission page also states:

"Below is some information which you may find useful in helping you to successfully submit your manuscript to another publishing company:" and I go on for several paragraphs with helpful information about how to submit a manuscript correctly.

So in response to the email, even though I usually just delete them, I responded with a short sentence:

"Please read submission requirements at http://cheritonhousepublishing.com/submissions.html."

I thought this would help them because the page contains the information about how to correctly submit a book manuscript.

But obviously anything short of a request to read and publish their manuscript wasn't acceptable because in just a few minutes I received the following curt response:

"Thank you for your reply. I would never want to do business with you as your requirements read quite   rude.

I did have a editor d my manuscript.  I will make sure I wont ever buy one of  your novels as you are very cold."

Again, look at how badly written even this short email is with "a editor" and "d my manuscript" and "wont."

I also have no idea what difference having an editor makes when I don't want to publish the manuscript, or even look at it.

And threatening me by saying that they've never bought one of my books before and now they never will? It's not much of a threat is it?

Clearly this person has anger issues if they have a knee-jerk reaction to something so mundane as someone not wanting to publish their manuscript. Authors get rejections more then they get acceptances. It simply goes with the job. There's a well known saying that to be a writer you need to have a thick skin.

What this all comes down to is that this was a really REALLY bad way to try submit a book manuscript to a publisher.

The correct way is to research the publishing company first to see what types of books they publish and look at their website to see if they are currently looking for unsolicited manuscripts and what genres they want.

Most publishing companies will also have strict guidelines to follow for submissions. These guidelines are usually also a test to see if a prospective author can follow simple instructions. Because if you can't then they probably won't want to work with you anyway.

So if you're thinking of submitting a manuscript to a publisher (or to an agent) make sure you do your research first so that you don't waste their time or yours.

And also make sure your covering letter (if submitting by mail) or your email reads coherently and doesn't contain typos.

The one I received was full of red flags right from the start so even if I was looking for manuscript submissions I would have deleted this one immediately.

The Yearbook is packed with advice, inspiration and practical guidance on who to contact and how to get published.

New articles in the 2017 edition on:

Stronger together: writers united by Maggie Gee
Life writing: telling other people's stories by Duncan Barrett (co-author of the Sunday Times bestseller GI Brides)
The how-to of writing 'how-to' books by Kate Harrison (author of the 5:2 Diet titles)
Self-publishing Dos and Dont's by Alison Baverstock
The Path to a bestseller by Clare Mackintosh (author of the 2015 Let Me Go)
Getting your lucky break by Claire McGowan 
Getting your poetry out there by Neil Astley (MD and Editor at Bloodaxe Books)
Selling yourself and your work online by Fig Taylor
Then and now: becoming a science fiction and fantasy writer - Aliette de Bodard
Writing (spy) fiction - Mick Herron
Making waves online - Simon Appleby

All articles are reviewed and updated every year. Key articles on Copyright Law, Tax, Publishing Agreements, E-publishing, Publishing news and trends are fully updated every year.

Plus over 4,000 listings entries on who to contact and how across the media and publishing worlds

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