Submission impossible

by Richard Perkins

tor-delivery-confirmationIt’s official. Today I sealed my message in a bottle, and cast it into the remorseless sea that is a publisher’s slush pile. In late September of 2008, I decided that the ill-fated romance of Devon’s mother and father would be the subject of my first entry in the National Novel Writing Month contest.

After a month of development, I completed the 52,000 word first draft of The Renegade’s Door in November. Now, four and half months worth of reader feedback and revisions later, I have mailed the first few scenes of the 78,000 word finished manuscript to the acquisition editors at Tor Fantasy and Science Fiction . The submission also included an introductory cover letter and an 8-page synopsis, which was a new and different writing challenge to overcome.

The picture in this post is my official delivery confirmation receipt for the submission package. This way I’ll know when the package gets delivered to Tor’s slush pile. Then I only have to wait 4-6 months for their reply: a form rejection letter in all probability. :-( What can I say? I’m a realist. The odds of a major genre publisher like Tor Fantasy and Science Fiction picking up an unsolicited, unagented, unpublished author’s first manuscript are vanishingly small. But it happens. I might get lucky. And if I don’t, I’ll look for a smaller publisher or an agent who is willing to work with me to improve the manuscript until it is publishable.

In the mean time, I’ll get busy on my next authorial endeavor: development for Eliza’s story, which I hope to draft during JulNoWriMo. Stay tuned!

17 Responses to “Submission impossible”

  1. as one who has a piece or two in various slush piles..all the best..never give up hope..:)

  2. Thanks Sunrise Lover. Good luck to you too!

  3. Wow Richard, I wish you a gargantuan slab of good luck, and hope that one special person who loves your story reads it and gives you that book deal you dream of! I’m of course on the verge of completing my first full length novel, and it’s been the most fulfilling artistic experience of my life–whether it gets picked up or not will never keep me from writing novels the rest of my life. I have yet to read your published story because I’m so busy writing right now, but I will when I’m through:)

  4. Thanks Bobby! I never realized that the author of Revellian was one of my readers. How cool is that? Good luck finishing your own novel. Finishing a novel for the first time is an addictive rush, isn’t it? Although I found the revision process to be a bit of a buzz kill.

  5. Good luck with the waiting (4 to 6 long months?)… You can handle it man!
    Oh and with the novel too. LOL

    Don’t worry, I will buy a book when it comes out. I just hope they sell it here in the Philippines. (sigh) Then, I’ll send it to you for the autograph. (happy)

    PS I don’t know how to make smileys in html format. LOL

  6. Z – sadly, even if someone does decide to publish my book, it’s likely to be a long time before it’s available in the Philippines. Unless ships there, you might be out of luck for a few years.

  7. I was of the understanding that major publishers didn’t actually accept submissions direct and only used agents. You may be better off finding one of those to represent you, though it’s about as hard as getting it published! lol

    Still, all the best!

  8. Chinaren – It is certainly true that most major publishers don’t accept unsolicited submissions. Tom Doherty Associates (Tor) is different. They have an open submission policy and every proposal they receive is reviewed by at least one member of their editorial staff (which is why it takes 4-6 months for a response).

    They publish submission guidelines on their website specifically for authors who don’t have agents. Presumably, previously published authors with agents go through a shorter process and don’t risk having their submissions lost in the slush pile.

    As far as getting an agent, similar challenges apply. Some agents accept unsolicited submissions from previously unpublished authors and others don’t. You have to do some homework to find out which agents are looking for new talent before you submit. The Writer’s Market publications are a good place to start.

  9. Best of luck with all that, Richard.

  10. jakill – Thanks!

  11. Well damn! I didn’t know that! Thanks for the info.

    ~zooms off to find Tor’s site~

  12. Let me save you some time. This is the page you’re looking for.

  13. A few years is okay.. unless you want to send me the pdf version… hehehe. oh, and include the pictures too. At least i can directly ask the author about the book. How cool is that?


  14. Good luck Richard. I know you’ll succeed!

  15. Jena – Thanks for the encouragement. And good luck with your own book. Let me know when it’s ready for prime time!

  16. [...] my first National Novel Writing Month last November, and submitted The Renegade’s Door to my first potential publisher in April after four months of [...]

  17. [...] submission package for The Renegade’s Door has been in Tor’s in-box for 39 days, according to my delivery [...]