Friday, May 29, 2009

Just wondering...

So it's been almost a year since I started sending my first book ms. around, which means that some of the same deadlines are coming around again. The ms. has been tweaked here and there since I started submitting it, but hasn't been significantly restructured -- it's still essentially the same book, though hopefully the tweaks have made it a little stronger.

So... obviously nobody's accepted it yet. Do any of y'all ever send essentially the same ms. to a publisher/reading period/contest for a second time? I know most of them use different judges every year, but if you don't get past the initial readers to become a finalist it doesn't really matter who the judge is anyway. I'm inclined not to resend it to anyplace that rejected it without comment, but haven't decided about the places that at least gave me a nice word or two. My instinct is not to resend it even there until it's been significantly restructured, but... what do you guys think? Seriously looking for advice here.



Lyle Daggett said...

If it were me, I would tend not to resubmit the same manuscript to a publisher that had said no to it previously, though it might depend a little on exactly what they said (if anything).

Contests might be a different story, because as you said they generally use different judges each time. I'm not much help with contests because I've never submitted to any.

In principle, I also would recommend against reworking the manuscript too much. In general I believe it's more important to believe in our own work and just tough it out.

Or, to put it another way: "What would Bruce do?"


Anne said...

"What would Bruce do" is probably the worst possible approach. If it were up to him, I think they'd STILL be remixing Born to Run. ;)

Leslie said...

Anne, the only contest I sent the ms to two years running, well, the book won the second year. The first year I got no feedback at all on it. It wasn't named a finalist—nothing. My ms had changed a lot, but mostly in order and structure, between sendings.

1. Some contests don't say if your ms made it to the judge, and sometimes don't even name finalists. So if your ms made it through the readers and you don't know that, then a different judge and the same readers will pretty much guarantee it gets to the judge. Different readers—anything could happen.

2. Readers do change all the time, and probably even when they don't, I'm not sure they remember from year to year which manuscripts they did/did not like. And maybe familiarity is a good thing in this case—they read it and think, huh, I remember this from somewhere. It gets a tiny bit of extra attention and careful reading.

3. A friend and I discovered we had been getting the exact same positive note from one contest for two years running—the wording, the way it was written on the page, everything. Which made it a little less, to me, hopeful.

4. The only contest I would not resend to is one that you know uses the same readers, you know names finalists (and yours wasn't one), and that also has a judge you think is unlikely to pick the book.

5. Not submitting is the only way I know of to be absolutely sure your book will not be selected. If you believe in the book, send it.

I have a friend who accidentally, through a clerical error, sent the exact same bunch of poems to a journal that had rejected them the year before. They took one.

Born to Run is a masterpiece. I'm glad somebody made him stop tinkering and release it.

Radish King said...

I never once sent any of my manuscripts to contests. I'm too poor. Still, 4 of them got published.

Send $99.99 to find out how!



jeannine said...

You know, Anne, I'm not inclined to re-send even a tweaked manuscript to a contest if they didn't write me a note or if I didn't make finalist. I know that readers could change, but my attitude is, no sense throwing good money after bad.
And I hope you're considering open submissions and queries as well as contests...
Good luck! The contest season is upon us once more...

Anne said...

Thanks for the input, all! Food for thought. I do think I want to bang on the ms. a little more and see if I can strengthen it - I suspect it could (and likely should) be a bit shorter, for one thing. I do believe in the poems, and generally believe in the ms. as a sequence but I think it may benefit from a good hard look.

And yes, I'm submitting it to places other than contests, when I know about them & when they seem appropriate. What complicates things for me is that I really, REALLY want my eventual book to be findable in academic libraries - and that means aiming for a university press or a larger small press, generally speaking. I'm grateful for last year's grant that funded the first batch of contest submissions, for sure!

Jessie Carty said...

Good luck with it Anne!
I'd probably be reluctant to send it to the same contests/readings unless it was significantly changed because there are SOO many good publishers out there :)