We love the thrill of a new submission, we really do. But some days we get beaten down by all the misguided people who spew without thinking. To start 2014 out right, here’s our list of the ten best ways to get us to toss your proposal or manuscript with barely a glance.
1. Don’t compare your book to the top-selling books of all time. We can’t live with the disappointment.
2. Don’t use the word “spunky” in your pitch. To quote Lou Grant, “I hate spunk.”
3. If your book starts with the abduction, rape, and murder of a nubile 17-year-old, we’re probably done.
4. Menopause. Pregnancy. Exercise. Dieting. Self-help. No.
5. We don’t publish science fiction. Repeat. We don’t publish science fiction. Repeat. We don’t publish science fiction.
6. As is suggested by #5, please please don’t pitch us without taking three minutes to scan our website to see what we do. If you call us up and say, “Um, I was wondering if you publish young adult fantasy,” we might hang up on you. After we scream.
7. If you live in Brooklyn or the Boroughs, there are 8,000 publishers to connect with before you head west. Try them first, please. (We’re not that Prospect Park.)
8. If your main character is a non-humanoid mammal (gibbon, chimpanzee, orangutan, giant panda, orca) whose interior monologue provides commentary about human social structures, send 20 pages instead of 50.
9. We don’t hold with stereotypical conflicted-nation bad guys, especially when they’re from countries with whom the U.S. has a dubious past or present, e.g., Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians.
10. Unless you are an accomplished professional designer or a writer/illustrator, do not send a proposed cover.