SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: mflaherty on July 15, 2014, 07:15 AM

Title: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: mflaherty on July 15, 2014, 07:15 AM
So out of curiosity, what percentage of published picture books are manuscripts that started out in the slush pile? I know that publishers get thousands of submissions, both agented and not. So how much of the publishers catalog is made up of unsolicited material?
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Kell on July 15, 2014, 09:17 AM
That's a great question but probably unknowable -- varies from house to house and editor to editor.

Even houses with open submissions might mostly accept agented subs. One of my friends in another genre sold a book to an open house without an agent, and the editor said it was the first work she'd accepted from slush in more than a year. That's surprised me -- I thought most of their contracts came from slush. On the other hand, I've been surprised to hear how many books are unagented among a couple supposedly closed publishers.

 
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Betsy on July 15, 2014, 09:37 AM
Officially--not too many. But I've sold most of my mss. that way. There are some houses that seldom (if ever) read unsolicited mss. There are others that say they don't, but every once in awhile, they'll go through the slush pile. And there are some that read everything: Creston Books, Charlesbridge, and Peachtree come to mind.

Remember, when I say "read" that can mean they give it about four seconds. Once you've published a book the pool of publishers who will read your mss. gets slightly larger. But it doesn't help as much as you might think.

I'm referring specifically to picture books here. Nonfiction books for older kids work pretty much the same way.




Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Donna J. Shepherd on July 15, 2014, 10:02 AM
Unfortunately, for a picture book of a couple hundred words, 4 seconds sounds about right.


 :exactly:




But every now and then....


 :bangbreak
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Vijaya on July 15, 2014, 10:10 AM
In the Book Market Guide from ICL, I see stats the publisher provides. Ex:
Chronicle Books pubs 170 titles annually. Receives 20 queries, 1000 unsol mss monthly.
Clarioin Books pubs 35 titles annually; 8% developed from unsol. subs, 70% by agented authors, 30% by authors who are new to this house, 8% by previously unpubbed writers. Receives 40 queries, 300 unsol. mss monthly.
Candlewick pubs 200 titles annually, almost all by agented authors, 1-10% by authors who are new to the house, 1-10% by previously unpubbed writers. Receives about 500 queries monthly.

You probably want to research this house by house.
Vijaya
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Kell on July 15, 2014, 11:23 AM
Great info, Vijaya. I didn't know stats like that were available!
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Donna J. Shepherd on July 15, 2014, 12:21 PM
Great info and advice, Vijaya! Thanks.
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Betsy on July 15, 2014, 12:36 PM
Do you have a pub date for that book Vijaya? In recent years there have been some changes.

The official figures (often out of date) are meant to discourage newbies. You never know who filled out the forms with that information (you'll find the same info in CWIM too).
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Vijaya on July 15, 2014, 01:23 PM
This is a 2014 guide, Betsy.
V.
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: cekster on July 15, 2014, 01:35 PM
I know that if you don't persevere, you most certainly won't get a manuscript published. I don't have an agent and send in many submissions. I consider myself lucky. I just got an offer for my fourth picture book. But if you looked at the odds, you might think them poor (about 1,000 unsolicited submissions in 12 years). But I'm a happy author. If you target the right work to the right publisher, you have a better chance. It's a lot of work, but that's what it takes!
Good luck,
Carol
www.carolgordonekster.com
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Betsy on July 15, 2014, 02:17 PM
I totally agree, Carol! Good for you. I could have written your post.

If you're wondering why many publishing houses have stopped reading the slush, here's a great post by Editorial Anonymous, written before most of them instituted policies that eliminated the slush. By the way, while you're at it, read her other columns--they're all priceless:

http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/2007/03/biggest-mistake-would-be-writers-make.html (http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/2007/03/biggest-mistake-would-be-writers-make.html)
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Arona on July 15, 2014, 03:11 PM
When's the last time anyone read SlushPile Hell? I don't. It makes me cringe. Not only do I feel embarrassed for the folks who submit the queries--because they submitted those queries, but also because they are on display for the world to see. Granted, the "agent" is funny.

The thing about it, though, is you realize everything an agent has to read to get to something that might resemble something worthwhile. Might. Maybe. One day. And that's just as sad a reason to cringe.
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Andi W. on July 16, 2014, 05:03 AM
Here's a great Slush story. But read what the editor says about targeting your ms. With the odds against you do everything you can to make sure your ms. is  outstanding.


http://jennyleeyoung.blogspot.com/2011/03/live-chat-on-facebook-with-kids.html
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: Andi W. on July 16, 2014, 05:15 AM

Another great story. Yes, it's rare. But a diamond will shine once it's polished. Don't submit anything other than your absolute best work.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/58809-a-happy-ending-for-sophie-s-squash.html
Title: Re: Unsolicited submissions
Post by: LoriA on July 16, 2014, 08:54 PM
And Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site was pulled from Chronicle's slush. That one seems to be selling pretty well  ;)