A call for submissions — and a nifty talk

I am indeed working on my next post on agent-searching, but I realized today that I had fallen a bit behind on my announcement-making. So here are a couple of opportunities that I wanted to pass along to you.

Today’s first announcement is for all of you genre writers out there. I don’t normally post calls for submissions here, but this one represents a chance to not only to see excerpts of your writing in print — hooray! — but also a query letter-enhancing publication credit. How? By sending in your novel’s best passage to serve as a positive example in a writing how-to book by an award-winning author and editor.

Your work need not be previously published to be eligible. But let me allow the call for submissions to speak for itself:


Dynamic dialogue, fresh body language, description that doesn’t stop the action, intriguing hooks that keep going . . . and going . . . These are but a few of the fiction-writing techniques that spell the difference between a manuscript’s rejection and acceptance.

Excerpts that demonstrate the effective use of these and other techniques are being sought from writers at all levels for the next edition of a much-acclaimed guidebook for writers. Up to 145 of the best examples from unpublished as well as published novels, short stories, and screenplays will be featured in DON’T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSIONS: An Editor Tells Writers How to Save a Manuscript from Turning Up D.O.A.

This 2008 release is the expanded, all-genre edition of the original DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY, the small press book that won this year’s Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction Book, was acquired by Writer’s Digest Book Club, and became a finalist for the Macavity Award, Anthony Award, and ForeWord Magazine Reference Book of the Year.

Its author is Chris Roerden, an editor for 43 years and a former instructor of writing at the University of Maine and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Authors she’s edited have been published by St. Martin’s Press, Berkley Prime Crime, Viking, Walker & Co., Midnight Ink, Rodale, and many small presses.

Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2007. Contributors identify which examples in the first edition theirs can replace for the second. Only positive examples will be considered.

Though this means consulting the original 2006 edition, no purchase is required; Don’t Murder Your Mystery can be requested through libraries, which are acquiring the book as they learn of it. No fees or payments are involved.

Writers quoted receive full credit and retain all rights to their work, as in any review. Details and a submission form may be downloaded here or received for a 58¢ SASE sent to Don’t Sabotage Your Submissions, P.O.Box 16024, High Point, NC 27261.

Anne again here. While the last announcement was for genre writers everywhere, this next is for Seattle-area writers, another in the Washington Lawyers for the Arts series designed to demystify the laws that govern our work. This series truly is a boon to local artists of every stripe: the talks are inexpensive; they’re informative, and believe me, you’ll be much, much happier if you learn how copyright law works BEFORE anybody challenges your rights.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the more a writer knows about how publishing works BEFORE signing with either an agent or a publishing house, the better off the writer will be at every step of the process.



Attorney Gary Swearingen will discuss steps you can take on your own to help protect your intellectual property rights. Gary plans for this session to be interactive, based on the situations and questions of those attending. He’ll offer an overview of what (if anything) you need to do to secure your rights to your intellectual property.

He’ll also discuss copyright and trademark registration. For example, do you need to register? Is there an advantage to registering? How do you go about it? And with trademarks, when and how do you register—both with the state and with the federal government?

This discussion will be designed to help you distinguish what you can easily do yourself, and at what point you might want to call in the professionals. Time permitting, he’ll also discuss getting your business license, incorporating your business, and finding form contracts.

Gary Swearingen is an in-house attorney with Washington Mutual Bank. Before joining WaMu, he was an intellectual property attorney at Garvey Schubert Barer, where he represented artists and other creative types as well as companies who buy creative works. He is a past president of WLA and a frequent speaker on arts-related legal issues.

DATE: Thursday, November 15, 2007

TIME: 11:45 am – 2:00 pm (program begins at noon, lunches welcome)

911 Media Arts Center
402 9th Avenue N
Seattle, Washington 98109

FEE: In advance: $35 Attorneys and Paralegals; $10 Artists and Students. At the door: $40 Attorneys and Paralegals; $15 Artists and Students

To register, visit Brown Paper Tickets or phone 24/7 at 800.838.3006. To pay at the door, RSVP to Washington Lawyers for the Arts at 206.328.7053. Please note that the event is subject to cancellation; visit www.wa-artlaw.org or call 206.328.7053 for more information.

4 Replies to “A call for submissions — and a nifty talk”

  1. Hey Anne,

    Very pleased to hear that you are well on the road to recovery!

    A quick question for you on querying patience – I am at the initial stage now of querying agents and I note that a good 70% of the agencies I am mailing say on their web sites that they only respond at all now if they are interested. I have 5 queries out and wondered what your thoughts were on when to give up on a given agency and get the next query out the door – my instinct suggests 8-12 weeks but as you have mentioned before, once we get past Thanksgiving it all winds down, so is this time of year a special case scenario? Oh – that’s two questions! I’ll stop there and just say wish you better again!


    Adam of Albion

    1. Thanks for the good wishes, Adam!

      I have to say, you are more patient than I would be with an agency that states as a policy that it will not respond unless it is interested — thereby giving the writer no way of telling whether the query was in fact rejected or just went astray. I would wait 4-6 weeks, then move on.

      But you’re right: the long winter’s nap does prompt one to stray from the usual. Go ahead and send out another flotilla now.

      As a general rule of thumb, if an agency lists a turn-around time, it’s prudent to use that as a guide for moving on to the next set of queries. For submissions, if you really want to be polite, you double the stated time, then contact them for an update. But these new policies about not responding truly leave the writer in a dilemma, because both queries and manuscripts do genuinely get lost from time to time.

      Just what aspiring writers need: yet another Catch-22 added to the querying process.

      Out of curiosity, though: of that 70% who said they would not respond, what percentage said they preferred e-mailed queries? My gut feeling is that it was rather high, as it is substantially easier to delete an e-mail than to throw out a letter.

      1. Thanks Ann

        Yes you are absolutely correct – they are mostly email accepted or email preffered agencies. That said, at least on your side of the pond, they want genre entries – here only 5 agents accept fantasy queries at all and one of those still charges a reading fee if they request your full manuscript! How very advanced ‘eh? NOT!

        Enough bleating – on with the querying – thank you for your quick response and advice again.



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