Last week I prepared my latest fantasy novel, First Dragon, for submission. I polished my query pitch thanks to some help from my friends here. I tweaked a few formatting issues. So many publishers demand some little things be just so. One wanted the entire manuscript. Most wanted three chapters and a synopsis. I can handle that. In an evening, I submitted to three fantasy publishers. But two of the publishers I wanted to submit to took much longer.
I had to print out two hard copies of my query letter, synopsis and first three chapters. One of the publishers strangely exact spacing on the title page as if they wouldn't be able to read it if my name and address were not a perfectly placed eight spaces from the top. Neither of these publishers will return my partails even if I include a SASE. They say on their website they just don't have time to go the post office to mail things back. I would really like one of them to snap up my manuscript but I found myself becoming increasingly disgusted with the process as I wasted ink and paper to prepare the submissions.
The thought running through my mind was, 'why in this day of internet ease do these publishers still not take electronic submissions?' Why waste so much of my time and money? Why fill their office space with packages? Why require their junior editors to tear open envelops and lug stacks around their offices or perhaps even take home? Don't their people have laptops? IPads? Any electronic gizmo for their convenience of reading my prose?
I doubt if it is. One submission was going to Canada and the other New York. If they decide they like my first three chapters, they'll email me and ask for more or tell me no thanks. They can email me but I can't email them? Now what if they do want to see the entire book? Must I now stuff all four hundred double-spaced pages and take another trip to the local post office? And all this adds up to time.
A growing criticism of the big NY houses is how long it takes to take a book from acquisition to publication. Add to it the time it takes to acquire it. Even if one of these big publishers decide they want my book at some point, it is likely to be nearly three years from the time I first send it to them until I hold it in my hands. Time. And during that time the industry and technology are sprinting forward.
What do you think? Have you submitted anything by snail mail lately? Do you think I wasted my six dollars? I have a list of small publishers I'm investigating. I know many of you are published by independents. Are you glad you went that route?