“What’s going on here?” I demanded, as I walked into my office. A half dozen of my characters were crowded around my computer. “Do I have to start locking my door?”
My Gypsy waggled his eyebrows at me, a la Groucho Marx, and snickered. “It really wouldn’t help,” he reminded me, twirling his silver stiletto.
“Yeah,” agreed my Foreman. “Remember how he once used that blade to unlock a very difficult lock?”
“I remember,” I sighed. “But you characters can’t just barge in here without permission and make yourself at home. You need to respect boundaries. From now on, under no circumstances are you to enter my office uninvited!”
They all hung their heads and looked abashed…for about 15 seconds. Then my Cleric spoke up.
“Mistress, you need to see this e-mail!”
“You’re reading my e-mails?” I asked, my voice becoming a screech.
“Well, it looked like something you could use,” my Arrogant One replied. “You have not had much luck finding an agent to represent our books.”
“Our books?” I fixed him with a steely look.
“O course, the laddie be meanin’ your books. Our stories, but your books,” my Dwarf assured me.
“Symantics,” my Arrogant One replied, his voice tinged with irritation. “Do you want to see this or not?”
“If you’d care to get out of my seat,” I retorted.
We exchanged places, and my Arrogant One pointed to the e-mail my characters were so excited over. “It’s from one of the services to which you are subscribed,” he explained needlessly.
“18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishers (No Agent Required)” I read. “Sounds promising,” I admitted. “Let’s take a look!”
I started reading.
“You are frowning, Mistress,” my Cleric noticed.
“Yeah. This first publisher won’t look at anything that’s currently submitted to other publishers or agents. Also, they don’t take electronic submissions. Even if they did accept simultaneous submissions, my finances currently wouldn’t allow for the ink and paper to print out two full manuscripts, plus postage.”
“That’s all right. That’s only the first one. There are 17 more,” my Young Hero said, his voice full of confidence.
I clicked on the link to the second publisher.
“You’re frowning again,” my Foreman observed.
“This second publisher isn’t even accepting submissions. Their call for unsolicited, unagented submissions closed last month, and they don’t think they will have another open call until 2017!”
“Two down.” My Young Hero didn’t sound quite so confident now.
I clicked on number three. “Another dead-end. This one won’t accept simultaneous submissions except through an agent.”
“By the Great Fires! This not be gittin us anywhere fast!” my Dwarf exclaimed.
“We must be patient and have faith,” my Cleric soothed. “There are still many others to consider.”
“Faith is your department, Milady,” my Gypsy reminded her. He turned to me. “What does the next one say?”
I shook my head. “Their website is still under construction. I can’t find any useful information here, except the fact they require manuscripts to adhere to a format with which I am unfamiliar.”
I quickly clicked on the next link, then groaned. “This one does publish fantasy, but not Young Adult novels.”
My Dwarf started pacing, and my Gypsy started softly whistling his birdcalls again. My Arrogant One poked his finger at the next link and demanded, “Well, what about this one?”
“Thank you for visiting our website,” I read. “Due to the overwhelming number of submissions we’ve received, we are not accepting queries or manuscripts until further notice.”
“Gee, this service to which you subscribe certainly provides reliable, up-to-date information, does it?” my Foreman commented sarcastically.
“Welcome to my world! I frequently encounter this,” I explained. “I get all excited, learning about a publisher or an agent previously unknown to me, one that publishes or represents Young Adult Fantasy, and nine times out of ten, I am disappointed. When I read their requirements, I find the information I received about them is incorrect or outdated.”
“Well, we are not even half-way through the list,” my Young Hero reminded me. “Do not give up so easily!” Somehow, he didn’t sound nearly as confident as he had earlier.
The remaining 12 listings yielded similar results. One paid ridiculously low royalties to their writers; yet another one was currently closed to submissions. One did not take simultaneous submissions; another took science fiction only, no fantasy. Two were not interested in anything aimed at the Young Adult market. One sought Dark Fantasy and another specified no Sword and Sorcery.
“No Sword and Sorcery?” My Young Hero looked dumfounded. “What is Fantasy, if not Sword and Sorcery?”
“You would be amazed at the number of sub-generes found under the Fantasy umbrella, my young friend. But that is a discussion for another day.”
I continued scanning the websites. “These last four are the most promising, except they each have their own online submissions form.”
“Why be thet a problem?” my Dwarf asked.
“I have not had much luck with those online forms,” I explained. “Some require reformatting of the manuscript. Others make it difficult, if not impossible, to query regarding a series; they are designed for single book queries. I have used online forms to query in the past, and have never heard if the publisher has received the query. I prefer e-mail queries.”
“Well, I guess that was a big waste of time,” my Cleric bemoaned.
“Not at all,” I assured her. “We have eliminated 18 more publishers in our quest to find a home for your stories. I will keep looking. I promise.”
I looked at them all sternly. “But you must make a promise to me.”
“What be thet?” the Dwarf asked.
“You must all promise not to enter my office uninvited!”
“Of course,” my Arrogant One replied, his voice dripping sarcasm.
If you’d like to see how long my characters keep their promise, feel free to drop back from time to time. I’ll keep the porch light on for you.