The never ending submission…

by Richard Perkins

In my last post I mentioned that I was finished with my revisions of Renegade’s Door except for the proofreading. Well… proofreading has taken a bit longer than anticipated. But I can’t really complain, since the friend who’s doing the job for me is working gratis. That’s right, unpublished author here working on a non-existent budget with no other income stream… free is the only way to go right now.

Meanwhile I’ve been working on my synopsis and cover letter for Tor Fantasy. For those of you who aren’t intimately familiar with the submission process, here’s the cliff notes version:

Publishing editors receive hundreds, sometime even thousands of unsolicited manuscripts a year. They don’t have the time to read through all of them in full, so most editors ask for a submission package that includes only three things:

1) a cover letter – to introduce the novel, the author, and highlight the author’s relevant credentials

2) a synopsis – to describe the main characters, critical plot elements, story arc (including the ending), and ideally hook the editors by showing that the story is worth their valuable reading time

3) the first 3-4 chapters – to give the editors a taste of the author’s writing style

I’ve read that some editors won’t even bother picking up the sample chapters if the synopsis isn’t compelling or suited to their existing catalog.

So now that I’ve written the synopsis, I needed to find someone to read it. Someone who hasn’t read the novel. Someone who is also a fan of the genre. And ideally, someone who knows a little about what a publisher would look for in a synopsis. Among my circle of friends, I had to settle for 2 out of 3 (remember… no budget…).

And unfortunately, the folks that I asked to read the synopsis are also busy people (ie gainfully employed). So I haven’t heard back from anyone about the synopsis yet either. Now I’m trying to get some feedback from the folks at the SFFWorld. But if any of my readers are interested in reading a 1300 word synopsis of Renegade’s Door,  just drop me a comment.


12 Responses to “The never ending submission…”

  1. Will two and a half out of three do? I haven’t worked with publishers per se, but I’ve got a pretty good sense of the kind of summary someone who really doesn’t have time to read over everything that comes in individually might want to see.

  2. Ravyn – Heck yes… 2 and a half out of three is 25% better than two out of three :-) If you’re up for reading the synopsis, I can email it to you, or post it in the writer’s lair for you to read online, whichever you prefer.

  3. Email’s good. I’ll keep an eye on the inbox.

  4. A Tor author by the name of “Rudy Rucker” ( has a generally positive write-up of his Amazon self-publishing experience …

    Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor also reports on self-publishing … (wish he’d redesign his website ;-)

    Annoyed that I can’t find the blog article of the story I’m sure you may have heard/read before; a well-known author who abandoned the publishing houses, going the Amazon route. Although he had previously been overjoyed (ego-stroked) with the revenue the traditional published books generated; he became horribly offended by how little cash was ending up in his pocket.

  5. Thanks for stopping by Luke. I’m actually considering a short print run with CreateSpace who gets excellent reviews among POD services on Piers Anthony’s review of self publishers. They partnered with NaNoWriMo to offer a free proof copy to every author who completed the latest competition. So even if no traditional publishers pick up this manuscript, I’ll be able to order gift copies for the handful of friends who helped me with revisions and feedback.

  6. Coincidence? Earlier today, Instapundit’s Glenn Reynold linked to this EndUserBlog entry “Print On Demand Goes Mainstream”

    Earlier this week, I came across a post in my blog archives from September of 2002 where I said:

    Remember how so many readers have been telling me to write a book? Well, I listened. Watch this space for details on how

    you can get it in about a week or so, maybe two.

    I was talking about my book “Dancing Barefoot”, which was created from material I cut out of “Just A Geek”. I looked at that

    post and felt a little nostalgic, because that’s where my journey as a published writer and champion of indie publishing


    In 2002, I was just another struggling actor and fledgling blogger. I figured that, since I was having such a hard time

    getting work as an actor – where I had a huge resume and a lifetime of experience – it would be nearly-impossible to sell my

    books to a publisher. I did some research, figured out that I was able to reach a few hundred thousand people with my blog,

    and decided to reject the “traditional” publishing route in favor of self-publishing.

    The rest of the article is here …

  7. Luke,
    Yeah self publishing and independent publishing has made some inroads into the market, but pulp is still king when it comes to financial reward for your writing. If I can’t get off the slush pile with one of the larger publishing houses (low probability of success for a first time writer), I’ll try the independent and niche market route (only a marginally better chance of success than the big houses there). If none of the above work, I’m likely to try self publishing, just because I’m a real stubborn S.O.B. ;-)
    If nothing else, self publishing will at least get me a couple of print copies for the die hard fans (who I could probably count without removing my shoes and socks).

  8. Hello Richard,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your journal. My daughter will be finishing her Electrical Engineering degree in May, but she doesn’t like to work as an Engineer when she finishes. Most likely she’ll probably get a job in IT.

    I heard that the Wind Technology is now very much in need of your kind of Engineers. I don’t know if you’ve explored this one already.

    About your writing, it looks like you’re so much closer than any of us to getting published. I’m just a novelist wannabee. I have no writing experience whatsoever. I’m writing blindly and unconventionally. I say these because I don’t follow any standard writing structures. I’m just writing, winging it, more like it. If it feels right to me, then it must be okay. I don’t even have a skeletal structure sketched or in placed. It’s all in my head. My husband just reminded me today the importance of such a structure in order to give me a clear picture and direction.

    I still have a lot to learn in honing and polishing my writing skills. As I surf the blogosphere, I learn something new about the writing process. Therefore, I thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge about writing querries and about dealing with editors.

    Good luck to you, me, and the others who are trying our luck to break into the world of being successful published writers.

    Good luck also with job hunting.


  9. Thanks for stopping by Tasha!
    This is my first time through the writing/publishing adventure. Its surprising how much work is left after you’ve completed the first draft of the novel. That was in December for me, and revision and submission prep is still in process.
    I’ve missed so many of my own personally set deadlines already, but I’m determined not to miss another one. By the end of April, my submission will be sitting on Tor Fantasy’s slush pile. How long it sits there is ultimately up to Tor’s editors.
    But once I have this manuscript submitted I can focus on my next novel, which I plan to draft during JulNoWriMo in July. That much is up to me.
    As far as structure is concerned, I think that depends on personal preference. I’m a very structured thinker; it goes hand in hand with being an engineer. But other writers prefer to let their draft work flow like a stream of consciousness onto the page. Then they revise, revise, revise until they end up with a finished product they’re happy with. Wouldn’t work for me, but who am I to judge?
    You just keep writing. The only way to improve your skills is to write. And best of luck to your daughter as she finishes her degree.

  10. Thank you for responding. Thanks also for your words of encouragement for me and for my daughter.

    I wish you the best and have a great weekend.

  11. Tasha – No worries. My inbox isn’t so overflowing with comments that I can’t take the time to reply to my readers. Have a great weekend yourself!

  12. [...] . The submission also included an introductory cover letter and an 8-page synopsis, which was a new and different writing challenge to [...]