Saturday, March 3, 2012

How to Love The Slush Pile

Like Megan, I too went to the ANWA Writer's Conference last weekend. It is always amazing to me the sense of sisterhood that there each year. I didn't enter the BOB (beginning of book) contest, and I didn't pitch to an agent this year, but I enjoyed the classes and the chance to meet more people who are just as crazy as I am. I did get to sell "Totally Cliche" at the book signing portion. That was new and exciting territory for Megan and I. We referred many people to blog and hope they are visiting us today.
Now, thanks to the permission of Lisa Mangum, I get to share with you what I learned at one of the classes. If your wondering why we have been featuring Lisa Mangum so much, it's because she's awesome, wrapped in a burrito of bodaciousness! Now I wrote these notes on my iPad, so there may be many, many mistakes sorry about that. Be sure to visit Lisa at her website.

Five things you can't control:
1. publishing is a business
2. Number of manuscripts submitted in a given year
3. Number of available slots a publisher has for new writers.
4. Other submitted manuscripts that are similar to yours
5. My mood.
It's not personal:
Writing is a personal expression
Book buying is an emotional choice
Publishing is a business

You get how many submissions?
A large publishing house can receive as many as 5K a year.
Deseret Book recieved more than 2500 in 2010 and 2011
Of those 2500 submissions, about 30 were picked up for publication
The more polished you are the more you will stand out.

Playing the Slots:
We average 150 products a year:
*Books (fiction, non-fiction for children, YA and adult)
* Music
*Digital Releases (singles, e-books, audio)

In 2010: 94 book products, 12 were first time authors.

Haven't I read this before:
*four YA novels about vampires in 1 month? Really? Be careful trying to fit in with a trend.
*By the time a trend is identified, it's waning.
*Don't be "the next Harry Potter" be the first of whatever comes next.
A case of Mondays
*It's true...Manuscript Acquisition Editors are human too. Lisa is nicer in the morning and likes chocolate!

Five things you can control
1. Do your homework - Make sure you know who you are submitting to. Google them and read their blogs and websites.
2. Follow posted guidelines - don't make the mistake of thinking the guidelines don't apply to you.
3. Write a killer cover letter - or query letter depending on if you are submitting to a publishing house or an agent.
4. Showcase your talent - make sure the cover letter or query letter is written in your voice.
5. Deal with a rejection letter - it comes with the territory. It doesn't mean you're a bad writer. It's you're very own red badge of courage!

*Six questions:
1. Am I in the right slush pile? --Don't send young adult fantasy to a fly-fishing magazine
2. Who's going to buy this? --Find and know your audience
3. How is your book different? --Be clear about what is
4. What are peopole buying? --Knowing what people are bying may help you
5. What is your marketing plan? --A publisher may or may not be able to put alot of money into marketing your book. Are you prepared with unique ideas to help sell your book?
6. Have I let five honest peple give me feedback

Gguidlines are there for a reason, follow them
Your submission starts with the mailing envelope this is your first impression
*Is your name and address complete and legiblbe?
*Is your envelpe too small? too big?
*Is your manuscript hidden beneath too much packing material?
*Have you included the correct size SASE?

If you submitted electronically, have you followed posted instructions (Attachments vs. body text)
Do you have a professional email address/URL?

The Most important page
*Most decisions are made on cover letter
* A cover letter is a business letter.
*Keep it simple, short

*Who you are - Contact info
*What are you selling?/ Back cover blurb

the cover letter:

The Hook:
*Consequence of failure

*Why we should buy it? --Marketing plan
*Why should we do business with you? --Short bio, awards credentials

The Waiting Game
*It's ok to check in with a publisher for a progress report -- but don't be pushy. It's easier to say no to a high-maintenance author.
*Often no news is really good news.

How to deal with rejection:
*Don't stalk them and go postal!
If they give you revising advice, then do it!
Continue to submit.

Only way to get out of the slush pile is to be in the slush pile in the first place.

Part of showcasing your talent is being serious and going to writer's groups and writer's conferences.

Thank you, Lisa for visiting our blog again! -- Nikki


  1. Loved Lisa! She was such a great presenter in all the classes she did.
    I did ask her if the BOB award was something to include I'm the query. She gave me a big, fat YES! So now when it's done I get to add that.
    Thanks, Lisa!

  2. She did encourage to resubmit, huh. Back to revamping that query letter.

  3. Great info. Always a good thing to get inside information. What I want to know is how many authors have stalked you afterwards.

    Betsy Schow

  4. This is some great information! And encouraging. Thanks to Nikki for sharing, and Lisa for allowing her. AWESOME!



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