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Miss Snark Nails the Inefficient

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The gleefully venomous Miss Snark skewers the publishing industry’s more inefficient organizations today. One of my biggest pet peeves with the aspiring author gig is having to wait for months, even years, for certain journals, agents, and publishers to review your work. And that wait time is even worse when they demand exclusives or refuse simultaneous submissions.

Miss Snark agrees. “First, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knows that less than 2% of the work that comes in gets published. This means they’re holding 98% of the pool hostage. It’s not that hard to sort the crap out in five seconds and respond with a form letter. I do it three days a week and manage to keep up.

Second, good writers will make that publisher their last choice. Frankly, I’d want to be the first choice of every good writer.

Purposely doing things that look arrogant AND inefficient is a patent pending process of the government. You’ll probably get sued for infringement, but that’s ok. You’ll have the papers exclusively for four to six months before a jury of snarling writers gets to decide your fate.”

In a separate post, Miss Snark continues the evisceration. “This sux.

If it takes this long to review a submission, fine. You email the author before you start reading and ask for a five day exclusive if it’s still available. You take your chances some better organized, more efficient, smarter, hungrier company beat you to the punch. (spiked punch of course).

This isn’t just ludicrous, it’s disrespectful.

Screw them.

It’s also the hallmark of a company that doesn’t have confidence you’ll choose them over anyone else. I NEVER ask for exclusives and most of my fellow agent buddies don’t either. I figure if you want to work with me I’d better be able to tell you why I am a great agent for your book and what I bring to the table that those other sloths in the industry do not. I specifically do not want to sign anyone who hasn’t queried elsewhere. That’s the fastest way in the world to get a client with buyer’s remorse the second something goes awry (and the first rule of publishing is that EVERYTHING goes awry).

Exclusives stink.

If you queried me about a novel that was tied up for four to six months, I’d probably pass. I like to sell my clients’ work, not watch it grow mold.”

Give ’em hell, Miss Snark. Now she was only talking about exclusives with agents and publishers, and I’m kind of mixing in story submissions here. But my own personal take is that a publisher, agent, or magazine has the right to set their own submission guidelines. These aren’t government-run organizations in that they have to be fair, accessible, and take on all-comers (of course, the government doesn’t do that so I don’t know why I used that description). As private businesses, they have the right to do whatever they want.

But I agree with Miss Snark in that I would wager that these policies hurt their business in the long-run. As Miss Snark points out, “Good writers will make that publisher their last choice. Frankly, I’d want to be the first choice of every good writer.” I still send stories to a few journals that refuse to accept simultaneous submissions. And I honor their guidelines. But you can guaran-goddamn-tee that these journals are very last on my list. I pile up the rejection letters and exhaust every other option before sending my story to The Dirty Dishwater Rag Journal and simply forgetting about it.