Category Archives: Manuscript submissions

Manuscript submissions

So I did a scary thing. I submitted the manuscript for Obsidian to a publisher. Took the liberty of changing the title a little, since there is already a speculative fiction series out there with the title of Obsidian for the first book and I don’t want to confuse the two – thus Obsidian has become Obsidian Scales. I am digressing though.

While I don’t expect much – it is my first submission to a proper publisher since I was a teenager, and as a teenager I wrote poetry, not speculative fiction – it’s still a big step for me. Really big. And had I mentioned the scary? Eeep…

Beta-readers

So. My current progress report is that I am at 69157 of 69157 words. Yes, the manuscript grew. This is normal for me when I edit, because my biggest bane is writing too condense.

Doubtlessly, if a professional editor would go over the text, there would be text cut from the manuscript. I have seen the pages of professional authors where they show pages with large red x’s through them. That doesn’t change that when I read through my own texts, I tend to find stuff I tried to discuss in a sentence for which I really should have taken a page. So I work hard to put more air into my manuscripts, so it’s a fun experience to read, instead of a heavy information overload.

I mostly write because I love to write. I love the process of working on, crafting and polishing a story. Of seeing my text and knowing I wrote that. But I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like for other people to read my stories and enjoy them. Even though, that is the dream, it’s also something I am absolutely terrified off. It’s really scary showing people something so precious, something so deeply personal, something I made and am proud of in a sort of fragile way. Which makes asking people to be my beta reader for a novel-length manuscript one of the hardest and scariest things to do.

However, I feel that if I am going to send my manuscript out to a publishing-house and/or an agent, I should at least have one other human looking at my texts beforehand. Because you know what you are trying to say and you know how your story-world and your characters work. But it also needs to make sense to other people.

Fortunately, I have a partner I love and trust, even or maybe especially with something like this, even though it’s scarier to let the people closest to me read the text than for instance a total stranger. He will read and comment on it, in a useful way.

Maybe I will also approach a couple of friends that like to read in this genre, since while my partner is amazing, urban fantasy isn’t entirely his thing. If I can find the courage :-/ Cause letting my friends read my words…. it remains scary as all hell.

Publishers and the Digital World

Recently, I’ve been updating my research on publishers, since I want to send the manuscript I’m working on to one of the bigger publishing houses. Not that I’m expecting immediate success, but if you never try, you’ll never succeed. I’m less interested in indie publishers – most of what they can do for me, I can do for myself. While researching current publishing models and submission guidelines, I noticed a huge difference between publishing houses and sometimes even imprints of the same publishing house. Some of them have thoroughly embraced modern technology, while others are still avoiding it like the plague. For instance, it’s really surprising that some have switched to all things digital and want everything by e-mail, while others still want printed pieces of paper and SASE’s.

Now, I understand why they would want to save on printing expenses and have the people sending in their manuscripts instead of printing those manuscripts themselves. However, I often wonder why they do not invest in a decent digital submission scheme and e-readers. The chances of items getting lost, damaged, etcetera can be reduced so much if you implement a digital administration, a decent content management system and proper backups. Also, replying to the many submitted manuscripts becomes much, much cheaper. An automated e-mail informing people that their submission has been received had got to require less time then writing and snail-mailing a post card, even if you don’t have to fill in the address.

It’s not just the ancient, outdated presses either. Alright, none of the experimental presses want me to send them actual paper anymore. Those that only do e-books, or publish digital storytelling, all work digitally. But one of the more current presses with regards to the paper books they release (and then turn into e-books), only accepted printed manuscripts. Now, I know I’m lucky I write mostly (urban) fantasy, and that there even are any ‘traditional’ publishers that accept manuscripts without an agent at all, but still. Paper. On which they must write all their observations and notes. Which will then need to be typed out. Wow.

It also translates, often, into what is being published. I ran into digital magazines, publishers that were making the move to e-book only, and I know some of them are working on digital interactive stories(I’m not calling it e-books, since they’re way, way more then that, but they’re not games exactly, either). When it is just about reading, I prefer holding a printed book, admittedly mostly for nostalgia’s sake. But those digital experiments truly excite me, and I can’t wait to be able to dive into the more groundbreaking ones. The world of telling stories keeps growing and it’s a magical thing. Still, at the moment it seems to broaden the divide between those publishing houses embracing the digital world and those that to some extend are still keeping it at arms length.