Submission Process: Evolved Publishing

Stack of paperHave ever wondered why certain manuscripts are rejected and why some are accepted? How important is your query letter? (The answer may surprise you.)

Let’s once again meet the management team at Evolved Publishing:

Lane Diamond – Co-Founder, Managing Publisher/Editor, Author

D.T. Conklin – Co-Founder, IT Manager, Editor, Author

Emlyn Chand – Marketing Director, Author

Eric Pinder – Executive Editor, Author

Evolved Publishing Info:

RK: Explain how you handle the submission process.

Answered by Eric Pinder: Step one: check the inbox for new submissions and briefly resemble the Edvard Munch “Scream” painting when I see how many there are.

Step two: dive in and read. Writers typically send in the first three chapters. Sometimes we can tell right away that a story isn’t for us; other times we need to ponder the story for a while. We also look at the author’s online presence, such as their Twitter page or author website, to see how much they can help with marketing the book. For authors, having a website is the 21st century equivalent of having a business card. It has become a necessity.

The next step in the process depends on our editors’ schedules and personal literary tastes. If the first three chapters win us over, and if we have an editor who knows the genre and has the time, we request the full manuscript. The assigned editor gives the manuscript a thorough reading, looks for specific strengths to praise or weaknesses to fix, and makes a final recommendation to accept or reject.

RK: What if the manuscript is rejected?

Answered by Eric Pinder: Even if we reject a submission, we try to offer some helpful editorial feedback, as much as time allows. On rare occasions, we’ll invite an author whose manuscript just missed the final cut to resubmit after revision. Usually, though, we simply don’t have the time or staff to look at the same manuscript twice. That’s why it’s important to make those first three chapters as strong and polished as they can possibly be before sending them out into the world. Then, of course, make the rest of the manuscript equally strong.

RK: What do you look for in a query letter?

Answered by Lane Diamond: We don’t. I never understood the notion that a sentence or two about a book could give an agent or publisher a clear indication of the quality of that work. Frankly, I’ve always considered that ridiculous. I believe query letters are not about finding the best works; they’re about simplifying the work process for agents and publishers.

RK: Then what do you look for in a manuscript submission?

Answered by Lane Diamond: Our submissions call for the first three chapters of the manuscript, and that will be the key to whether or not we want to talk more with an author. We read, or at least we start to read, every manuscript that is sent to us. We stop when we’ve seen enough to know we’re not interested, or at the end of those first three chapters, at which point we decide if we want to see the full manuscript. Is it harder on us to do this? Yes. But it’s the right thing to do.

Naturally, we expect the author to provide some introduction to the piece, and to his self, with his electronic submission. However, we will review the work itself, and it will be that work, along with what the author might add to our team environment, that matters most in the end.

RK: How many submissions do you receive in a week and what percentage of those are rejected? Explain the main reason for the rejection.

Answered by Eric Pinder: The number of submissions ebbs and flows. The one constant is that about 95 percent of them will be rejected.

RK: Why is that?

Answered by Eric Pinder: The sad truth about this business is that every publisher receives more books—good books—than they ever have the time or resources to handle. So we have to be very choosy. Sometimes, sadly, there’s nothing “wrong” with the submission. We simply don’t have an editor with an empty plate who works in that particular genre, or we recently accepted a similar book, or the story simply didn’t grab us, for reasons that are hard to put into words. Those are the hardest rejections to send.

Bad grammar, poor punctuation or formatting, overuse of “was/were/is” and the passive voice, and failure to read and follow our submission guidelines are the most common reasons for rejection. I like to think of good grammar as dressing up your manuscript in a suit and tie for a job interview with an editor. Don’t let too many typos or technical flaws make a bad first impression, or distract the editor from the great story you’re telling.

RK: How has EP kept up with the latest industry trends?

Answered by Lane Diamond: It’s simple, really: read articles, read books, repeat process – over and over and over again. I spend a great deal of my time, as a publisher, reading about and researching the industry. The rest of our team does the same. Since this industry changes about every 13 minutes, this is a perpetual endeavor.

RK: Do you require the author to have a literary agent?

Answered by Lane Diamond: We’re not a traditional publisher, and as such, we do not require that authors work through agents when approaching us. However, they are certainly welcome to do so, if that suits their needs.

RK: Do literary agents still have value? Explain.

Answered by Lane Diamond: Agents still serve a function for the industry, but with various new business models emerging, their role, like the rest of the industry, will have to evolve at least a little. I think many of them are struggling, right along with the rest of us, to determine what’s going to best for them in this rapidly changing environment.

It’s always been the case that a good agent can open doors and make connections that a writer just starting out never could, particularly when trying to approach a big, traditional New York publishing house. Some agents also provide valuable suggestions and editorial feedback. They know the market and give good advice. So even though they may not be mandatory for a small press submission, the author may still find their services of value.

RK: Most authors feel that not having an agent will hinder their chances of being published. Is that true?

Answered by Lane Diamond: We at Evolved Publishing have adopted a more direct approach, accepting submissions from writers with or without agents. While we’ve received a few agented submissions, the vast majority of submissions come directly from the authors. Given our team structure and essential approach to the business, and whether or not an author has an agent, it’s critical that authors engage with us directly and strongly – members of the team.

Writers who put in the work to research publishers and their guidelines and send in a polished, professional manuscript on their own can still find success.

Look for Part IV of this interview in our next blog….

Ron Knight

Have you submitted your fiction book to the UP Authors Fiction Challenge? There are over $2,500 in prizes!

Ron Knight

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