I am your editor: submitting your novel
by Caro Clarke
I have been in publishing for over ten years, mostly as an editor. I am the person who accepts or rejects your manuscript. Here is how I make my decisions.
I look at the envelopes I am opening as I work my way down the slush pile. Sloppy presentation is not a good sign. Neat, clearly labeled parcels give me hope. I haven’t even seen what’s inside, and already I’m making judgements.
Out come the manuscripts. I check each one for a self-addressed return envelope with sufficient postage attached or with enough international postal reply coupons (if it comes from overseas). Is the SASE big enough to hold the whole MS? Or is there a letter-size SASE for my reply? Good in both cases. I keep this submission on my desk. No SASE? I put the MS to one side. Maybe I’ll read it. Probably I won’t. I’ve had writers who’ve said: ‘You won’t find an SASE here because you won’t be rejecting this novel.’ Yes, I will. He just won’t be seeing his MS again, because I won’t be paying to mail it back. I also say goodbye to submissions without return addresses and submissions from overseas with their local postage attached. If the writer makes it too difficult or costly for me to contact him, believe me, I won’t. Why would I give him more consideration than he has given me, an overworked editor? He’s not that special. I am not that into him.
The submissions with proper SASEs are sorted again. Most rejections happen right then. Why do I reject them?