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Unsolicited submissions

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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?
#1 - July 15, 2014, 07:15 AM
Whose Story Is This, Anyway? (Sterling, 2016)
This is NOT a Dragon Party (Sterling, 2019)

facebook.com/alltalestallandsmall/

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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.

 
#2 - July 15, 2014, 09:17 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

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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.




#3 - July 15, 2014, 09:37 AM
www.ellenjackson.net
PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

Unfortunately, for a picture book of a couple hundred words, 4 seconds sounds about right.


 :exactly:




But every now and then....


 :bangbreak
#4 - July 15, 2014, 10:02 AM

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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
#5 - July 15, 2014, 10:10 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Great info, Vijaya. I didn't know stats like that were available!
#6 - July 15, 2014, 11:23 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Great info and advice, Vijaya! Thanks.
#7 - July 15, 2014, 12:21 PM

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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).
#8 - July 15, 2014, 12:36 PM
« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 12:40 PM by Betsy »
www.ellenjackson.net
PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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This is a 2014 guide, Betsy.
V.
#9 - July 15, 2014, 01:23 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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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
#10 - July 15, 2014, 01:35 PM
Carol Gordon Ekster
Hip Hopping Books, 2015
Before I Sleep, January 1 2015
Ruth the Sleuth and the Messy Room, 2011
Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? 2008

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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
#11 - July 15, 2014, 02:17 PM
« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 02:20 PM by Betsy »
www.ellenjackson.net
PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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.
#12 - July 15, 2014, 03:11 PM
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

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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
#13 - July 16, 2014, 05:03 AM
www.andriawarmflashrosenbaum.com
Twitter: @andriawrose
Trains Don't Sleep, HMH 2017
Big Sister, Little Monster, Scholastic Press, 2017

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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
#14 - July 16, 2014, 05:15 AM
www.andriawarmflashrosenbaum.com
Twitter: @andriawrose
Trains Don't Sleep, HMH 2017
Big Sister, Little Monster, Scholastic Press, 2017

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And Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site was pulled from Chronicle's slush. That one seems to be selling pretty well  ;)
#15 - July 16, 2014, 08:54 PM
BACKHOE JOE, HarperCollins, 2014
FAMOUSLY PHOEBE, Sterling, 2017
ALL IN A DROP, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019

http://www.lorialexanderbooks.com/

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