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A Publisher's Perspective

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A Publisher's Perspective

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Hello all. I’m Lynn, editor in chief at Dreamspinner Press. I’m also representing Elizabeth North, our intrepid publisher, who will be responding to comments along with me. I’ve been asked to share some wisdom about the publication process from an editor/publisher point of view. Once I started thinking about it, I started to really wonder what I could convey that would be useful, but hey, people like insider information, right? So this is a list of things that we wish we could impress upon anyone who considers publishing with us.

Our first introduction to you as an author is the submission process. Honestly, we are easy to please. Give us a simple, straight-to-the-point e-mail, a properly formatted manuscript of our focus material, and a great story, and we’re pleased as punch. It’s that simple. The problem is that most authors are so excited about their completed and newly polished work that s/he has lots to say about it.

When we read submissions, we’re looking for stories that reach out and grab you from page one. We want characters that will keep us reading to four in the morning because we care what happens to them. Awesome stories that make us happy, sad, horny, and/or loved are particularly pleasing. We adore stories that make us want to start the book over again as soon as we’re done.

A piece of advice: ask others to read your book. Notice I say others, plural. One of the hardest lessons I’ve personally had to learn is that nothing pleases everybody. I can think it’s the best story of the year, and Elizabeth won’t like it. She may send me a MS that she thinks is incredible, and I’ll think it’s so-so. We have a score of readers to allow for differing tastes and have gotten good at being able to say “This may not be our taste, but there is a market for it.” It will likely be the same with anyone you share it with. But if someone reads it and loves it, you’re probably onto something.

Now you’ve got a great story, you’ve got to clean it up. Multiple mistakes in your e-mail or synopsis may keep your manuscript from even being read. I have vetoed manuscripts with great storylines because it would simply take too much editing to clean it up. Spell check. Grammar check. But don’t rely on your word processor. It speaks volumes about the skill of a writer if s/he takes the time to not only write a great story, but to submit a great, technically clean story. If we get one of those, color us impressed; you’re going to get a little more of our attention. You can’t do it yourself. No author no matter how skilled can edit their own work. Find an authors’ group that critiques and edits each other’s work. Poll your friends to see who has outstanding editing skills. Eyes other than yours need to look at your story before it is ready for submission. The more eyes, the cleaner the manuscript.

Okay, so now you have your manuscript, and you’re ready to wow us.

Number one. Be aware of our content requirement. Seriously. We are a publishing house that produces focused M/M material. Yes, a secondary plot of M/F or M/M/F in a MS is acceptable, but the story must have a strong primary M/M romantic thread. Otherwise you’re wasting your time and ours. All genres are acceptable, but the story must have a primary or prominent secondary plotline that includes the development of a romantic relationship. It can be a new relationship or growth in an existing relationship.

Number two. We have submission guidelines on our web site. Please read them. Please follow them. Believe me, they’re simple to follow. Honest. We wrote them because we see an average of fifty manuscripts a month, not including anthology submissions. That’s an incredible amount of reading and evaluation. So if your e-mail rambles and is five hundred words long? If you include half the MS in the e-mail? If I can’t easily confirm that your MS fits our M/M requirement? If I can’t open your submitted file? *Delete* It sounds rude, but we have to make authors who take the time to follow our guidelines our priority.

Number three. Once you have signed your contract and are in the queue, be polite and actually read the communications we send you. Dreamspinner now has more than one hundred authors on the books—many repeat clients—and we are accepting new authors nearly every day. We have more than five hundred titles released or in production. We have a publication process that we simply must follow to meet our release dates. We try very hard to work with our authors and make the process as painless as possible. But you, the author, have to work with us too.

Number four. Remember that we are indeed real people. We live and breathe and skip lunch like you do. Just because we send you short e-mails doesn’t mean we’re machines or heartless. It means that we are trying to do our best for you, and any way we can save time to devote to the process is golden. Believe me, if we do something wrong or forget something, we’re the first to admit it and try to fix it. Like I said, we try very, very hard to treat our authors well. We hope that the effort will be reciprocated.

As an editor, my fondest desire is to work with authors who are professional, friendly, and willing to learn. You must accept that as a publisher, we must meet deadlines and maintain our standards for each and every author. That means holding all publications to those same standards. Believe me, it’s not personal. It’s a matter of quality. At the end of the day, we want to be proud of we’ve done, and we want you to be proud too.

If you have specific questions about the submission process with Dreamspinner Press, our guidelines are posted in full on our web site, and we will be happy to answer any questions about the process. I hope that this glimpse into what we as a publishing house want and need is helpful to you.

Lynn West
Editor in Chief
Dreamspinner Press
We Tweet @dsp_mm_romance

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