Thursday, April 1, 2010

What not to do

I'm removing the names and identifying details to spare the letter writer embarrassment, but a number of us on the Western Washington SCBWI chapter advisory committee received a submission for a picture book yesterday, and it serves as a good reminder of what not to do when you're trying to sell your work:
I am from and live in REDACTED and need you help getting my story published into a book.
Where you live isn't relevant. It's assumed that you want to publish your work; otherwise, you wouldn't be writing. Also, this is why you want to proofread. It's "your" help, not "you" help.

Most important, though, SCBWI does offer help but we don't publish children's books. It's a waste of time to query when you haven't done your research.

There were other issues with the letter, but the one that really worried me was this:
My literary agent is REDACTED, she also edited this story. Her email address is: REDACTED.
OK, if you have an agent, the agent submits on your behalf. That is one of the many things that agents do. Sometimes, they also edit. It's possible the writer doesn't understand what an agent does and has confused a freelance editor with an agent. It's also possible that the so-called agent is a scammer charging fees and giving crazy advice.

Anyway, please be sure you've done your homework before you submit anything. Join the SCBWI. Find a critique group. Read widely. Write, revise, and repeat. The road to publishing is paved with persistence, and no one likes seeing rookie roadkill.

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