Tag Archives: format

New Submission Process

As with virtually every little detail to do with Romantic Shorts since its inception, what seemed like a good idea at the time turns out to need some tweaking. Or some reconsideration. Or some serious “what-was-I-thinking” back-pedaling…

And so, we now have a newly revamped submission process for manuscripts.

Authors can now find all of the submission information online, without having to leave the site to email their manuscripts. Check out the Submission Guidelines page here at Romantic Shorts H.Q. You’ll find a link at the bottom to access our Submission Terms & Conditions page. There, are listed all of the conditions Romantic Shorts asks of our Authors. In order to be published at Romantic Shorts, you must agree to these terms; following through by submitting your manuscript confirms your acceptance.

Of course, as always, this is a learning process and we are always open to suggestions and corrections. If you have any concerns about any of the terms, or if there’s something you’d like to see added or deleted, please contact us. What is currently posted there is the accumulation of various ideas and needs that particularly suit Romantic Shorts. Much of the page is very similar to any other publishing contract you may have seen in the past. But quite a bit of it is specifically designed to meet the needs – current and projected – of Romantic Shorts and our Authors. (Feel free to replace ‘projected’ with any other uncertain adjective of your choosing….)

Any manuscripts that are already in our files, are subject to existing and proposed contracts relating to each respective situation. Incoming manuscripts, however, will be subject to the new Submission Terms & Conditions.

The bottom line right now is, having tried the contract process for our new and unique format the traditional way, and finding it to be tedious and labour-intensive, this new stream-lined approach seems to be a practical option.

Who knows? There’s no one to ask. No model to copy. It’s a difficult path, this one less-traveled. But oh, the adventure!!

Alex.

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The Importance Of A Synopsis

Oh, you’ve worked so hard at finishing your manuscript and it’s truly a masterpiece. Congratulations!

Now it’s time to pitch it to a publisher, most of whom simply want an idea of what your story is about so that he or she can decide whether or not it’s worth the time.

Think carefully about this. You do the same thing. When was the last time you opened a book without reading the back cover first. Do you ever watch a television show without reading the description? Ever seen a movie trailer?

We like to know what we’re getting ourselves into.

But never does an intro weigh as heavily as it does for your manuscript. It is estimated that you have between 2 and 30 seconds to win over an editor. Two seconds can cover as little as a single sentence!

But no pressure. Enter the synopsis.

Keep your goal in mind. Your synopsis, first and foremost, should adhere to the publisher’s guidelines. Many are very specific as to  length and format. Know your audience.

If, on the other hand, you’re left to your own creativity, here are some tips.

Length Can Matter – A Lot

Try to make the length of your synopsis suit the length of your story. While it can be quite difficult to sum up a 100,000 word novel into two paragraphs, resist the temptation to give two full pages of details for your 10,000 word novella.

A good guide is approximately 2-5% of your word count. 2000-5000 words for the novel. 200-500 for the novella. Depending on the topic, anecdotes and short stories should fall into the 100-250 word range.

Don’t overdo it. But give yourself some space to sell your work. You’re writing a synopsis. Not a novel…

What To Include

In a nutshell, you’re telling your story. You’re outlining your setting, introducing your characters, and summarizing your plot. You’ll want to include all of your key components, plot twists, and, yes, the ending. And don’t use the words ‘spoiler alert.’ You’re talking to an editor, not a reader.

Don’t explain why you named your characters what you did. Don’t get into how you know about a certain topic. Don’t give background information that isn’t included in the story. Don’t ask questions. Just summarize the story.

You can discuss your inner most inspirations and ideas at your book signings. The editor just wants the goods.

Is There Room For Style?

Don’t include anything in your synopsis that the reader won’t find in the story. And that includes style. If the story is humourous, write the synopsis with the same sense of humour. Casual dialogue and dialect? Match it in the synopsis. You are telling the story in a shortened, accurate, and effective fashion. You are not describing your story as if it were written by someone else.

Remain true to your point of view as well. First person story? First person synopsis.

The only thing that changes for the synopsis is the tense. Regardless of the timing of your story, the synopsis is typically told in the present tense.

Keep in mind, you have the chance to exhibit your skill when an editor reads a witty – even snarky – summary of a black comedy, immediately after the professional demeanor of your polished cover letter.

Be True To Your Story

Probably the most difficult point to relay, and the reason for this post, is the failure of the synopsis to adequately reveal the genius in the story. I received a fairly uninteresting query from an author who submitted what amounted to a television preview report of the story – a scant and boring paragraph – within the query letter. In fact, if not for a spectacular pen name that caught my eye, I would not have continued beyond the cover letter itself – a rejection letter forming in my mind as I turned the page over.

But because I glimpsed a little imagination in that name, I decided to give the manuscript a go.

This story had me from the first line! Some of the best writing I’ve received: witty, sharp, excellent dialogue, and some intriguing details throughout. The point of view alone left me eager to read.

Lucky day for that writer.

Do not count on that kind of luck. Sell your story. It was worth writing – make sure the editor sees that.

Polish Polish Polish

Finally, your synopsis is your calling card. It’s the tool that will either sell an editor on giving you a chance or land you in the trash. The most common reason for the latter is lack of polish. Give as much care and effort to the editing of your synopsis as you did to your manuscript. Grammar, sentence structure, spelling are all critical to the impression you’ll make. No editor will ask for more crap. Show off your editing skills and land that sale.

Don’t think for a minute that your manuscript will be requested if your synopsis doesn’t turn some heads. Lead with your best foot forward. Overlooking the quality of your synopsis – whether one paragraph or a small book – will ruin your chances with your manuscript. Guaranteed.

Writers, editors, what are your thoughts?
How important is it to ace the synopsis?

 

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Guidelines or Hard and Fast Rules

As a bit of an OCD/Perfectionist, I have always gone out of my way to adhere to the publisher’s guidelines to the letter when submitting my works for consideration. And I never failed to at least get a response with some kind of personal note attached.

So I could never understand, and truthfully, got quite bored, having to perpetually read through publishers’ warnings, blog posts, and books that went on and on about how important it was to follow the guidelines perfectly. While some publishers are bound to vary slightly, most have fairly standard requests as to how to set up the document (right down to margins and font size and style), the format of the submission, and the method by which authors submit their works. Really, I thought, who are they talking to?

Now, as a publisher on the receiving end of such submissions, I understand the stress placed on submission presentation.

As a writer, you must understand that the people reviewing your work on behalf of the publisher are just that – people. And they are busy people. Many of them come across hundreds of ‘masterpieces’ every year and must chose the best of the best. It would certainly be an impossible task if they didn’t start to find ways to filter out the worst submissions, so that they can get to the juicy stuff.

Imagine you had three manuscripts on your desk awaiting your attention. You barely have time for one. So you take the one that’s been printed double-sided, because you know that by the time you go over it with your red pen, the ink that will bleed through to the other side will cost you so much time in deciphering the material that it won’t be worth your effort. You put it aside. Time is everything. Take the second one that has no indents for the first paragraphs, making it look like one long sentence, and is single spaced, leaving no room for you to make comments. Pack them both up, give them to your assistant, and have her return them with a form rejection letter. No one even read the titles.

The third one looks promising. It’s stacked and tied with a rubber band. It’s not bound – making it physically easier to handle while reviewing with pen in hand. It’s printed on one side of the paper. All the information you need to know about the MSS is on the front page. Every page is headed with the title, author’s name, and page number – ’cause you know that someone could drop the whole thing on the floor. It looks clean, organized, and ready to read. Makes you think that the content will probably be as well written. And you settle in for a good story.

It should come as no surprise to me that most of what we have received at Romantic Shorts falls within the quality of the first two examples. Depending on time constraints, submissions that don’t follow the guidelines could be thoroughly reviewed. You could receive more than a simple reply. You may even receive a generic or even detailed comment sheet. More likely, if your submission is not perfectly in line our expectations, you will receive a rejection letter that has nothing to do with your writing. You simply did not pay enough attention to your presentation. It astounds me that authors who spend so much time, effort, and emotion in creating something spectacular, stop just short of the mark in their presentation. And because of that, no one ever reads their work.

This is life. Used-car dealers have a car wash right in their building. We would never look at a grubby car no matter how great it runs. So they clean them and we pay more. We like nice packaging; it speaks volumes to the quality of material within.

For a publisher to move through their submissions as efficiently as possible, a lot of good work gets trashed because it doesn’t look good. Don’t sell yourself short. Put more work into the polishing (grammar, spelling, structure) and presentation (follow those guidelines exactly) than you do in the actual creation of your work.

Make it look good.

Grab our attention.

Your work deserves your best foot forward.

Check out our submission guidelines. And be sure to check our Romantic Shorts Submission Sample. Use this sample as a template to format your work. It shows you what your work should look like while it describes the details of your format.

We want to hear your story. Make it stand out because of its great content, not because of its poor presentation.

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