I like Wednesdays. That’s the day I get new slush. And, oh the slush I get. Now slush is a pain on many levels, but it can also be interesting – in a bad way. I get strange submissions. I know I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again, but it’s worth reiterating.

This week I got a manuscript that had obviously been written some time in the distant past. Most of the manuscript was a copy of a typewritten version that had been manually revised with handwritten notes. Every now and then was a computer printed page that replaced the typewritten copy, but even these had handwritten notes. It was the most unprofessional work I’ve seen since the handwritten one last week. Okay, so I see a lot of unprofessional stuff, but this one had me confused. The author is a published author. He/she had to know that this is an unacceptable submission. Then why was it sent?

And that leads us to the Small Press Complex. This is where people at small presses feel they are treated differently because they are not from a large press. In some cases it’s true. It can be harder to get books in the bookstore when you’re a small press, especially if you’re new. People ask if you produce real books. I’m not sure what fake books we would be printing, but they ask anyway. And sometimes, when we get an author that acts like we’re incompetent, we have to wonder if that author would say the same things or pull the same stunts at a bigger house. The Small Press Complex can lead to a very paranoid staff if you let it. In general we don’t accept these behaviors in our authors any more than a large press would.

So do I think we got this awful manuscript because we’re a small press? Uh, no. When it comes to unagented, unsolicited manuscripts, I think the big houses get the same weird, shoddy work we do.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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