This whole attempting-to-be-useful thing is nerve-wracking. In discussing the slush pile, I should clarify that my books were published by (a) a publishing house that once employed me; (b) a publishing house that once employed a coworker who offered a personal introduction; and (c) a publishing house run by someone who used to run another publishing house which once employed me. There hasn’t been a lot of slush pile action going on.
I have, however, had slush pile rejections. I’ve also done plenty of rejecting and/or accepting on behalf of two publishing houses. Does that qualify me?
Oh, who cares. Here goes the bossy advice:
If option one is selective logging, option two is the clear cut. Just pick out a dozen of your favorite, appropriate publishers and send out your submission, all at once.
What’s that? You don’t want to risk getting a phone call from Publisher Teensy and accepting a deal, only to hear from Publisher Enormous the week after?
Well, here’s the thing. That’s about as likely as two meteorites falling in your yard on the same day. And if, by some cosmic miracle, you do get a call from Publisher Enormous a week after accepting Publisher Teensy, then Publisher Enormous will just have to get in line for your second book. Assuming, of course, the profits from your bestseller haven’t singlehandedly transformed P.T. into P.E. by that time.
Here’s the real problem with the clearcut approach. (And the rant I promised earlier.) It’s that sometimes a Publisher Prim refuses to accept multiple submissions. This would be fair if publishers accepted or rejected manuscripts within three or four weeks. But they don’t. Sometimes, they respond in three or four months. And sometimes never.
Maybe Publisher Prim does not accept multiple submissions because Publisher Prim is not willing or able to enter bidding wars for your work. Okay, I can understand that. But as long as you’re prepared to jump up and down ecstatically when P.P. calls your house (and you promise not to say, “I’m sorry, but can you hold that offer in case I hear from Publisher Enormous?”), then I vote… just go ahead and add them to the clearcut list.
Best of luck.