Writing Excuses Episode 12: Submitting to Editors Part 1

This week, special guest Stacy Whitman joins us from Mirrorstone books (an imprint of Wizards of the Coast). Stacy works there as an editor, and helps us understand the submission process, including acting like a professional, doing your research, following submission guidelines, and all sorts of things NOT to do with your submissions. Stacy also shares her story about Holes, and how you have to know the rules to break them.

Liner Notes:

We’ve got a lot of links for you this week. First of all, Stacy keeps a blog on LiveJournal (slwhitman.livejournal.com), and she works for Mirrorstone, whose submission guidelines can be found here.

Mentioned in the podcast: Kristen Nelson’s Blog (You Know You Have Tired YA When…), the Hallowmere series, and Hallowmere’s author Tiffany Trent.

And this week from our sponsor Tor, Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow


19 thoughts on “Writing Excuses Episode 12: Submitting to Editors Part 1”

  1. Ahhhh, this podcast (the bad submissions part, in particular) reminds me of the American Idol outtakes: people can be glaringly stupid about their own talent, or lack of it.

    I mean, a lot of the really bad singers on Idol? You can see they really believe they’re good. Same thing here, seems a lot of rejections happen because the author thinks they’re just SO clever, or their art or submission idea is SO good…

    On the flipside, it doesn’t seem to me like the really good authors consider themselves to be really good. I know I’ve heard stories about authors who are opinionated or arrogant, but it’s never seemed to me that I hear that in relation to the _quality_ of their work… the validity of their opinions, sure. The purity of their artform, yeah. The whole “I don’t write for the fans” idiocy, ok.

    Just something I find interesting. Perhaps a mindset we should all strive for?

  2. Okay, this week the ad was a little less obnoxious. Good job. Keep it quick and to the point like that.

  3. This was the best ad placement so far. This ad sounded like it was done “on set” at the time of recording, where as past ads sounded inserted after the fact, almost cutting off whomever was talking while at the same time being at noticeably different volume levels. Please continue this podcast’s practice for future installments.

  4. Can someone talk about the differences between YA and middle grade? I had never heard of middle grade until I married an editor. Since then, a few people have attempted to explain the differences. Despite their efforts, I am still unclear about what separates the two genres.

  5. I thought we covered it here, but here’s a quick reference:

    YA: 12 and up
    Middle grade: ages 8-12, roughly. Independent readers.

  6. Excellent podcast, Stacy and co. Very informative!

    One thought – when you spoke of simultaneous submissions and asking one editor to wait because it’s with another editor – doesn’t it tell the second editor when they receive the manuscript that this has already been rejected, putting up a red flag?

  7. Is it just age range? Some people have tried to convince me that it has to do with the plot and the characters.

  8. Re: Liner notes–that’s a great list of YA tropes, but the conversation Kristen and I had got us this list.

    @B.E.: Both. YA can be boiled down to pretty much anything that is of interest to teens and their lives. So generally the protagonist should be a teen (a rule that can be broken, but rarely), the story *generally* tends to be a coming-of-age type of story, and generally it deals with more mature topics than middle grade. Though that differs dramatically between whether you’re writing for the younger part of that huge spectrum (12-14) or the older (16 and up). That’s a big gap, so the books in the YA section tend to run the gamut.

    Middle grade generally tends to have characters just slightly older than the target age group (the reading-up trend) and have less mature topics–more adventure, mystery, and fantasy than romance, for example, though YA has all those *plus* romance. But again, the idea is that the story should be about what kids that age would be interested in reading about.

    Since developmental stages vary so widely, it’s just a broad categorization that has many little niches and especially when you’re talking about a series in which the character grows older (the Alice, I Think series and the Harry Potter books are perfect examples) it can be very controversial about what section those books go into. But *in general* it’s about age groups because age groups tend to have interests common to a developmental group.

  9. The podcasts just keep getting better! I’ve really enjoyed listening to each and every one of these. It’s like I’m taking a creative writing 101 class for free! Overall, Writing Excuses has really helped encourage me to keep writing even when people tell me I should do something “better” with my future aspirations.

    Question: What would be some publishers you would recommend for a Magic Realism/ Urban Fantasy book?

  10. Nathan:
    Your best bet is to look for other Magic Realism/Urban Fantasy books that are similar to yours, and find out who publishes them. If you can swing it, also find out who the editor and agent are. Then get your book in shape and start writing queries.

  11. Is that Audrey crying in the background? You may want to attend to her, if only for aesthetic reasons. (Yes, I know the second half has already been recorded.)

  12. No it’s not.

    We were recording this at a friend’s house, which was closer to the SLC airport then the normal WE recording place and more convenient for Stacy, and their daughter was upset she couldn’t come into the room where we were.

  13. Ok, first off, I love your podcasts. That said, I must now say this…

    I hate you all!
    If you are going to break up a session like that, DON’T tell me about it. Now my OCD is going to make me nuts(er). If I didn’t know that it continues on from where you stopped, I would not be fretting over it for the rest of the week.

    Great job by the way, and I am really looking forward to hearing more on this.

  14. Question: What if I’m doing a mixed genre manuscript, and I’m not trying to market it as YA? Its technically a dystopian novel (Which is what I’m marketing it as), but it has an extremely strong military sf element.

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