Got Them “Screw this shit—what’s the use” – Submission Blues

I hit SUBMIT yesterday at noon. I am suddenly reminded of why I gave up on submissions twenty-five years ago.

The Prospect Agency tells me: You will hear nothing back unless we are interested. Do not expect a reply before three months are up and possibly longer.

Because my book is a hybrid: not a text-only novel, not a short picture book. (For picture books they want to see it art and all.) I have a tad under twenty-thousand words, just barely a noveIla. I sent (requested for a novel) three chapters. I also sent two pieces of art. They may or may not be pleased with my lengthy captions.

I may have violated their guidelines. We’ve all been told, they’re looking for any reason to reject you, to whittle down their stack of submissions.

They state on their submissions page: you will receive an email within three hours informing you that you’ve been added to the queue. It’s two days now, and I have no email. Is this a sign?

An 11×17 poster to be used for publicity. The images are high quality, it can be blown up even larger.

I am going to continue to build my print file for a self-pub. It will take me another several months. The dimension I originally set it at is not accepted by any self-publisher that I can find.

You might well ask, why didn’t you confirm the size before you started? I did. With Valor Printing, in Utah. They said fine. Slowly it dawned on me that they are not a publisher. They print, but do not connect with wholesalers, and they do not fill individual orders. You receive a bulk shipment and mail the book out yourself. That’s when I began to explore true self-publishers.

My layouts are elaborate, with many text-wraps. I have half-a-dozen major pieces of art still to create, perhaps more, this to be determined by how much the page count grows because of the restructure.

The story will contract a bit. I’m taking out sentences here and there. The paper doll will stay the same size, I refuse to have it any smaller. The Victorians made their dolls teeny-weenie. That’s not for me.

Thus, pages that hold two outfits may take only one. And I want every two-page spread to be a least twenty-five percent art, fifty-percent even better, to break up the type, so it’s not so intimidating to those who think they bought a paper doll book.

At the same time, I will resubmit once a month. At the end of six months, when my book is ready to go, it’s gonna go, probably to IngramSpark. From comments I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot of comments on a lot of impartial-pundit sites, they seem to be the best choice. On the whole. Each possibility has advantages and disadvantages. Ingram has extra fees along the road to publication that the others don’t have. They’re small, but they add up.

I’ve contacted an agent. Now I’ll look for a publisher that accepts submissions without an agent-intermediary.

We all know how many rejections Rowling got before she landed at Scholastic. Did she receive notices of rejection, or was she told, if you don’t hear from us within six months, assume you’ve been dropped from consideration? At what interval did she approach a new target?

it all comes back to me now. Abundant aggravation, until I finally gave up. This time I have a solution: IngramSpark.


Nope. Nope, change in strategy: I’ve been combing through the Agents’ Wish List site. Honestly, my thing is probably not what any of them say they want. And the closest I see to a genre for Maisie is Magical Realism.

OK, at least I have a category they’ve heard of. I’ll call it Humorous Magical Realism, pick out five more agents to approach, then look for five publishers who accept un-agented manuscripts. That may be more difficult. The publishers are narrower in the range of what they’re open to looking at.

Ten tries out there, next week if I can manage it. If I hear nothing back by the time my book is complete, I’ve given it a fair chance. I get no nibble on my line, my best path forward is to self-publish.


22 thoughts on “Got Them “Screw this shit—what’s the use” – Submission Blues

  1. Your work is unique, Mimi. No publisher or agent has set themselves up in the business of publishing what you have created. I suspect that if you do self-publish, they will all one day wish that they had done it themselves. It’s a book that many will want to own!

    However you go, I want a hard copy! Autographed, please. I’ll pay for the book, the postage, & the ink used to autograph it. Just please send me an autographed copy?

    Liked by 6 people

    • mimispeike says:

      No, GD, you don’t pay. And I’ll send you two, maybe three. One to keep and two to give away. Spread the word!

      There may be only the one storybook. I’ve told her tale economically but in full, and I have an appendix with biographical information on my main characters – what became of them? And I include genuine – and hilarious – reviews (of work by other romance authors of the time) of Bea Wanger’s widely read Lesbian Romances – written under another name, of course. She was a notable in the arts. She couldn’t afford to publish under her real name.

      Bea Wanger was the sister of producer Walter Wanger, one of the all-time-greats. She was a notable in dance. She did lecture in Paris. Everything else about her is made up. For someone who was a prominent figure, writing and performing under the name Nadja, there’s damn little information to be gotten on her. I’ve looked and looked.

      Oh, I had fun writing this! I’m sorry the text is finished. But the paper dolls can go on forever.

      Liked by 5 people

    • mimispeike says:

      I’m looking at small presses now. I’ve looked into a dozen of them. When you hit ‘Submission Guidelines’ all but one says: Not accepting submissions at this tiime’. The other one words it differently, but the message is essentially the same.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    Two weeks and no peep out of the Prospect Agency. I don’t expect a reply, but they did announce they’d send a notification of my being added to the digital query pile. I got nothing. I’m rethinking my submission package.

    I will from now on call my genre ‘Magical Realism’. That’s at least a genre in wide use.

    I’ve edited my query letter down by a third and done a bit of rephrasing.

    I am working on a website for Maisie by herself. Two pages – ninety percent images – for Maisie and one page for Sly. I had added Maisie to MyGuySly.com. It may be too complicated for an agent who only wants a quick peek at my illustration. I’ll have my new site done by the end of the week: MaisieinHollywood.wordpress.com

    I’m having four posters printed out at Staples, to see how my art prints. I should have them back tomorrow. If I see no problems with definition, resolution, etc., I can move forward with confidence.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mimi, I feel your pain! On the horror market front I could rattle off a good top-dozen names whose websites read: “Agented submissions only.” To which some add the coyly maddening mssg: “Agents: Contact us through the usual channels.”

      On the plus side, the art you’ve reproduced here looks fantastic! Lush, charming and absolutely enchanting. I think you’ve made a wise choice to market the book as magical realism. I wish you all the best! (I, too, think a small press might be your best bet here: Many publish stand-out, idiosyncratic work that is hard to publish elsewhere. The “Big Guys” are looking for the next King, Grisham, Patterson, Rice or Rowling.)

      And yes, I want an autographed copy of this book when it comes out! I may buy two copies. (One for me, the second to sell for ten grand on Ebay a couple of year’s from now when your extremely limited first run sells out.)


      Liked by 6 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    Yes Mimi, I want four copies of your book when it is in print. Family members will eat them up.

    I too feel your pain. I was rejected time and again with short story submissions. That was discouraging. Once in a while I would have something accepted, and that kept me at it until I had the credentials to sell my collections to a small independent publisher. I haven’t done much submitting lately. I’ve been frustrated with long delays and no feedback by a couple of journals who eventually reject my work, and months later ask me to submit more. That sounds like hitting my own head with a hammer. It doesn’t feel good until I stop.

    I have looked into self publishing companies and don’t care for most of them. There are a couple self publishers that I trust. They are local (for me) and I know where they live. In the Minneapolis area Beavers Pond has helped (at a price of course) a couple of friends, one with a book of short stories with photos and another with a wonderful children’s book. Another self-publisher WiseInk has good people running their business. Dara Beevas, one of the founders of WiseInk, put out a pretty good book on independent publishing a few years ago. I don’t know if it’s still in print.

    We are wishing you well. let us know what we can do to help.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Mimi: Editor Ginnilee Berger says of your post, “That was a very interesting blog article & something we all need to think about. I’m familiar with Baen Books & their eslush submissions because I used to evaluate the eslush for the eslush editor because they have an enormous backlog.”

    This suggests to me that publishers and agents are swamped.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. victoracquista says:

    Mimi, I’ve had more rejections and no responses from agents and publishers than I can count. Consider them as badges of honor.
    I don’t think magical realism is the correct genre for your work. I suggest researching publishers who publish coffee-table books because they often have extensive art work. It’s expensive to publish books with a lot of art work. I have a friend who writes in the magical realism genre and his novels don’t have any art work.
    Authors Publish has a free guide to manuscript publishers that was just updated for 2021. It lists publishers that don’t require agents. If you scroll down on this page you will see “Guide to Manuscript Submission” to download for free: https://authorspublish.com/ Once you are on their email list, they should send a link for the “2021 Guide to Manuscript Publishers” which lists 230 traditional publishers that don’t require agents. Each listing has detailed information about that particular publisher. If you can’t get the resource, email support@authorspublish.com and ask them to send you a copy. I have found versions from previous years helpful.
    Your work is unique and finding the right publisher can make a big difference. Nothing against self-publishing (I’ve done both traditional and self), but for all the hard work you have done, now isn’t the time to abandon your efforts to find a traditional publisher.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I think Mimi is targeting her query toward publishers who traffic in magical realism because of the adult content that comprises the narrative. What would you consider a more appropriate genre? Some sub-genre of fantasy, perhaps? (In the final analysis, the publisher will determine the genre, if her book is picked up.)

      Liked by 3 people

      • victoracquista says:

        Not sure, Carl. Perhaps something in the Historical Fiction vein. Yes, the publisher will ultimately decide, but pitching to the right publisher is the task at hand. There was a previous discussion on our forum about genre classifications and I shared my view about that as potentially problematic. I think if there is a lot of artwork/images then pitching the correct genre might not matter if a publisher doesn’t want to produce a book that has a lot of pictures. If there are comparable titles, then researching how those are classified might be helpful. It might also be helpful to find out who the publishers of the comparable titles and/or agents who represented the authors are. I’ve been at talks where agents and editors have basically said pitching them on something they aren’t looking for is wasting their time

        Liked by 3 people

        • The Redwall (talking animals) series of books by Brian Jacques was marketed simply as “children’s fantasy”. Mimi is interweaving rich historical detail and pungent commentary into her adult-oriented magnum opus. Perhaps her genre is “Fantastical Medieval Mammalian Mayhem”? Or, if she places one of her novels in 1920s USA (see that costume) we might have the launch of an entirely new genre: “Jazz-Age Flapper Mouse Fiction”.

          One thing is certain: We’re all rooting for her, and wishing her the best! She’s spent the better part of a decade pulling this project together.

          Liked by 3 people

  6. mimispeike says:

    You all are both encouraging and discouraging me. Here’s what I see as my genre: Literary Humor: Wise-Ass Animals in Pants.

    That’s not going to turn many agents on.

    I tell everyone: to understand what kind of stuff I write, you have to read a page or two.

    You may soon be able to do just that. I have submitted chapter one (with minor changes) to Rabbit Hole 4.

    If they take it, you will see what I do. With Maisie, with Sly, with everything I write: history, twisted in knots, and plenty of attitude.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. mimispeike says:

    By the way, publishers think illustrated books are too expensive to print? Children’s books are in full color. My book will end up at around sixty pages, not much more than most of those.

    I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. The genre thing, sure. But color too expensive?

    And I’ll be plugging the hell out of Maisie. I’m not going to be sitting on my hands hoping to be discovered like my neighbor next door. She’s self-published a bunch of children’s stories. They’re up on Amazon. They’re not selling.

    I ask her, what are you doing to promote them? I get a blank look. I’ve invited her to join us here. I get an even blanker look.

    That’s what I call Magical Unrealism.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. “There are quite a few literary novels coming through that either have photographs or art with them — more than usual. We’re being allowed to do much more and so is the author.” So says the art director at Penguin Group. From an article about the comeback of illustrated books: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/illustrated-novels/2020/12/21/1a15ea2c-4302-11eb-975c-d17b8815a66d_story.html
    There’s an audience for your work, Mimi. And somewhere there has to be a publisher shrewd enough to see that.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Hi Mimi! I love what I see, and I remember your writing style. Love it too! You’ve pulled together a great work. Have you thought of using a site called http://www.issuu.com to set up your book for page-turning online reading? What size are your pages designed for? They can publish your book online, so that readers can turn each page, and enlarge sections if they want. A lot of magazines are found there. Tons of other publications too. They have various accounts available. But the part about publishing is that when you submit the PDF of your book, they will turn each page into a graphic so that no one can highlight text, stuff like that. And the page-turning part of it is built-in. Check it out! I hope this is a solution you can use!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Peter Thomson says:

    Mimi – I asked my grand-daughter if illustrated flapper actress mice were her thing. Enthusiastic yes. She would love a copy, as would I.


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