The Submissions Letter


Tweaking ready

Tweaking ready

I am currently in a 'tweaking' phase. These tweaking phases come around after a torrent of rejection. Or, actually, in this case, a torrent of nothing at all. I am talking about the whole manuscripts to publishers routine. The routine consists of me, writing a manuscript, probably over editing and over analysing (that's my style!) researching publishers, sending off said manuscript and then checking my email/postbox 100 times a day in the hope that there is a jolly acceptance letter awaiting me. My current genre is children's picture books. A notoriously difficult genre to be published in. So difficult it would seem publishers don't even have the time to send out a courteous rejection letter. And so my tweaking phase begins- a phase filled with self doubt and some more over editing of words and illustrations until I have built up the confidence to repeat the process.

I have of course been troweling the internet for tips and tricks to help you get published, or at least noticed by a publisher. These vary depending on what you read, useful advice includes having a good web presence, publishers don't want your life story, while some do want a paragraph about your education. Some want to hear what you have written before, and some, I am pretty sure, don't actually care as they have no intention of reading your submissions letter or manuscript.

Following this month's lack of attention from picture book publishers I hit an all time low and lashed out with the sort of submissions letter I actually WANT to write...

Dear Publisher....

Let's be honest if you are still reading this submission letter then I am one of the lucky ones. There is no doubt in my mind that you are bombarded by potential authors on a daily basis and therefore it is humanly impossible to read them all.
I read on Facebook (clearly the font of all truthful material!?!) that I would have a far higher chance of being published if I were a man. If this is the case then I had better kill myself off and return as one in a future lifetime as I do not think the pseudonym John Edwards is going to sit well on my womanly curves.

In which case if you are still reading I shan't bore you with all the tedious details of my life. Whilst my mother thinks I am a fantastic writer I do not expect you are interested in the fact she still has my first 'novel' 'Max did a poo' taped to her refrigerator nor the fact that she enjoys sharing it with every male species that enters her humble abode.

You did however, ask for a short paragraph on 'why I want to be an author.' Well firstly, who doesn't? I can't seem to walk five paces down a street without passing someone with the idealised notion of sitting in some grand study over looking well manicured grounds typing away on their typewriter (yes apparently I do live in 1929). The writers groups are everywhere, usually led by a slightly eccentric man in his late sixties.. Still mildly orgasmic at the fact he was published sometime in the 80s and starts each conversation by reminding us of this. Of course, as the only published writer of the group he is the authority on the subject and so who can disagree? Each writing group is held, it would seem, on a Thursday evening in the local pub, where there is a heavy sousing in Merlot which turns even the more accomplished writing into slurred drivel. The content rapidly goes downhill until there is a thick dose of teenage angst filling the room in the form of street slanged poetry and profanities mixed with an unhealthy measure of men bashing from the middle aged set of women, there to fulfil a childhood ambition.

If going along with the crowd is not a reasonable enough answer however, my main draw into the profession would have to be an inability to read any more total garbage to my children. Yes of course, there are brilliant books, books that make you smile hours after you finish them, books that make you cry with laughter. But, in all honesty half the books being published are total trash. Particularly the picture books. Perhaps Publishers feel if the images are strong enough who needs decent literature? Trust us parents, we do. I suspect it is due to budget matters that means the school library has the largest stock of these sub standard authors. Since my eldest started school our daily adventures into the English language leave me with the want to throw myself, or at least the book, out of a second floor window. The lack of decent literature seems to resonate further come 'world book day'-  apparently a day designated to Disney princesses going by the costumes that pass me in the street- where the heroines of my youth have been replaced by wide eyed nymphettes. Or at least national Marvel comic day, depending on what floats your boat.

So I would really appreciate you publishing at least one of my stories, so that some of the trash I read my children will provide me with a big head and a large dose of self satisfaction after all I'm sure you don't want the headline hanging over you head, 'Mother of two shoots herself in 'Peppa pig' related suicide.'

Many thanks and I look forward to your acceptance letter.

Yours faithfully,

Sarah Jarman

My husband has dared me to send it off. Part of me is actually tempted. It is not as though I have been inundated with publishers contracts with my regular, politely written prose. Maybe it will actually grab someone's attention...

What do you think?