Electronic Submissions

As I mention in an earlier post, I submitted my first novel to a publisher after pitching at the Spokane Science Fiction Convention (SpoCon) in August. My mistake was assuming that the email went through with all attachments, so I didn’t follow up when I got no confirmation back. The editor did, after all, ask the first three chapters and synopsis after the pitch.

So, being the kind, patient, and sensitive person that I am, I waited. And, waited.

After a bit more than two months, I sent a little note to the editor requesting an update. The last thing I want to do is get an editor upset with me. I have no standing in this business, so I think it’s appropriate to tread carefully for now. I used my most polite and diplomatic language in the note. It turns out, she never got the original submission. Whether it ended up in the spam bucket or just never arrived, I can’t say. But, rather than be upset, she kindly asked that I resend the material.

I did. This time I followed up with a note to check that it did, in fact, arrive. She responded that it did arrive and she had sent it on to the acquisitions editor.

Whew!

Okay, this means I wait more. I still have fingernails left. Well, a few anyway.

Nothing in this business moves quickly. When you read the submission requirements for book or magazine publishers, they often include statements that they don’t want you bugging them about your work for a specific time (one to six months). However, if they accept electronic submissions–and you don’t get some kind of confirmation that they got it in a reasonable time–I don’t think it is out of place to send a quick note to verify they got it.

Any number of things can happen to an electronic submission. You can make a typo in the email address. Someone, somewhere, will get a copy of your first three chapters and synopsis and wonder why. Your submission may end up in the spam bucket for one reason or another. The editor may not check the spam bucket and just empty it. It may have arrived, but in the frenzy of the convention, she may have accidentally deleted it, or shoved it into another folder and forgotten about it. Or, it just might not have arrived.

So, it’s a good idea to verify an electronic submission.

Keep writing.

 

Rejection and Waiting

The Deadliest of Games is still making the rounds. I got another rejection this morning.

Rejection is difficult and something you must expect when submitting to markets. It doesn’t mean that someone at some magazine or journal won’t find the story “fits” their publication. So, you keep trying. The novelette went back out within a couple of hours, again, to another market. Like taking off a bandage from a wound. Pull it quickly and with conviction. The pain only last for a moment.

But, that doesn’t help with the waiting. That’s what I have to do now. Wait. While the work gets examined, judged, evaluated and either rejected (again) or accepted. There is pain in the waiting, and that is the long, creeping, aching pain of anticipation. In comparison, rejection seems insignificant to the waiting.

So, I work on something else.

Keep writing.

 

Pitching and Wooing

A few weeks ago, I attended SpoCon, the Spokane Science Fiction Convention. One of the items on the agenda was a pitch session with a medium size publisher from the Northwest. I thought I’d attend and see how it worked. There are a few things I learned from the experience.

One. Never go to a pitch session (or a convention) unprepared to pitch your work. Whether it is a novel or some shorter work, be ready. Always have notes and key points ready and practiced. It turns out I ended up pitching my first novel. I was unprepared and didn’t have a good pitch strategy in mind. Still, will all the stumbling and scattered thinking, the publisher still asked to see the first 5k words and synopsis. Fortunately, that was easily provided.

Two. Practice your pitch. If you can, practice in front of someone. It turns out the publisher asked questions I hadn’t thought of and I was unprepared to respond well. I still tried and I think that helped. But, for future reference, I will practice and try to get outside question on the pitch to sharpen the responses. It doesn’t hurt to be professional and prepared when you go to pitch your work.

Three. Work on your platform. One of the things that smaller publishers want today is that the author is ready to promote their book. That means a Facebook fan page with more than a handful of likes; at least one Twitter account for keeping folks informed of your publishing schedule, promotions and all; and a blog/web site (like this one). One of the first questions the publisher asked all the folks pitching was about platform. The main reason is that publishers don’t do as much marketing as one would think. Without an author platform, the work doesn’t get enough reader attention and traction. Smaller publishers (the non-traditional) usually pay a larger percentage of royalties, but the author must do more of the marketing and promotion.

So, part of the novel is in the hands of a publisher who may or may not want to see the rest. I’m waiting to hear one way or the other. It gave me hope that the story had some merit when the publisher still wanted to read some of it after my botched pitch. Still, I would rather have been better prepared and polished. I will be, next time.

Keep writing.

 

Spammers, SEO, Fake Traffic, or What?

I was thinking I had a nice increase in site traffic on this and another site until I started looking more closely at the site statistics.

It turns out, there is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) spammer–a crawler bot that doesn’t behave properly–that was bumping my visit/view stats. While it was cool for my ego, it generated a lot of worthless statistics on the sites and didn’t reflect actual visits or views by real folks. What I mean by not behaving properly is this. A crawler, like the Google, Yahoo! and other search engine bots, behave in such a way that their visits and page views only gather information on the site (content, key words and such) without leaving visit/statistics. They also obey site instructions on what can be collected and what pages can be visited. Those instructions are generally set in robots.txt files, or the HTML tags.

See robotstxt.org for more information on adding a .txt file or meta tags to your site.

Anyway, the outfit that was traffic spamming my sites is Semalt. If you go this location, you can opt your site(s) out of Semalt’s activity.

So, now my traffic is back to its normal, low level. Darn!

 

Neo-Opsis SFM

This is a little blatant promotion, today.

The magazine that accepted my story, “New Kid,” is Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, out of Victoria, BC, Canada. The magazine’s publishing schedule has been a bit erratic of late, due to a number of personal blows in this family run operation. Normally, they publish three or four times a year. Still, they are surviving and will be shipping the next issue, #24, in the next few days.

If you like good science fiction, you can buy a single copy, a three-issue subscription, six-issue, and up. If you want to catch my story (I don’t yet know in which issue it will appear), you would be making a safe bet by getting the three issue sub, starting with the current issue, or the next issue.

I know, I’m promoting them and I’m being bit self-serving. Still, I want you to get a chance to see the story in print. I’m happy they chose it and found it good enough to include in their magazine. I did buy a short subscription when I submitted my story, and after reading through issue #23, I worried that they would reject me. The quality of the work is very high, much more so than you might expect in a market that is “semi-pro” pay.

Here is the web site for buying subscriptions:

http://www.neo-opsis.ca/Store

Thank you, in advance, for your support and know that I really appreciate it.

I hope there are more blog entries like this and I can share more stories with you.

Keep writing.