(from the Smithsonian Institute. Jane Stafford did not actually write graphic novels, though it would’ve been interesting if she had!)
You’ve got a week off from work, so you may be taking advantage of this time to polish your manuscript until it shines and send it off to a publisher. That’s great! We’re not at work either over the holidays, but we’ll be back soon after January 1st and going through our e-mails.
Here are a six things to remember when you’re submitting your book:
Who are you? It’s great that you’ve sent us this manuscript, but please also take a few moments to tell us about yourself. Is this your first book? Do you have a website? Do you have a degree in writing or art? Have you ever done writing or art professionally in the past? Let us know about it.
Acknowledge in your submission that you know who we are as a publisher. Why are you submitting your book to us? Why do you feel like it would work with the aesthetic that our company has established? These are things that we have to think about when we’re thinking about acquiring something — we’d like to know that you’ve also thought about why you should be published specifically with First Second and that you’ve come to the conclusion that it would be a good thing. Extra bonus points if you do enough research to figure out the name of the editor you should be submitting your manuscript to.
Don’t send huge attachments. Either our e-mail will bounce them and you’ll never hear from us and always wonder what went wrong with the start of such a promising relationship, or our e-mail will accept them and them bounce all the e-mail that comes in for the next several days and we will be very unhappy.
It’ll take us some time to get back to you. Even when our inboxes aren’t full up of a week and a half of e-mail from people who we’re already working with, it can take us six months to get back to a submission. Post-holidays, it takes us even longer because we’re playing catch-up with everything.
Check back in. Sometimes we have server crashes; sometimes we accidentally delete e-mail; sometimes our mailbox deletes old messages that we didn’t mean to have deleted. Sometimes it takes us a long time to read things. We don’t get follow-up on at least 90% of the projects that get submitted to us — and I’d be surprised if that percentage wasn’t actually higher if I went back and did the numbers for real. Follow up — and be polite and cheerful whilst doing it.
Please don’t send your manuscript accompanied by perishables that will go bad over the holidays while we’re out of the office. It will make us raise our eyes sadly and skeptically at you (and possibly make us have to dispose of your manuscript for health reasons before reading it).