Monday, May 13, 2013

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

American white pelican at Padre Island National Seashore
Recently, I've been a bit dismayed, not with writing, but with the way the publishing industry works.  So, I've decided to redesign it.  I put my systems design background to use automating the handling of huge slush piles.  Here are some preliminary thoughts:

Many publishers open mail by hand and seal up the rejects in self-addressed stamped envelopes, then mail them back.  Others heave the unwanted contents.  All of this is time consuming, so why not have a computer weed out the inappropriate submissions?
great blue heron

1. In my redesigned publishing house, a submitter would go online to a publisher's website and complete a  pre-submission form.  Completion of this form assigns a name and number to the submission. 

When the ruddy turnstone spreads its wings, it's stunning.
2. The form is an overview of what the manuscript is about.  There would be fields for genre, age, subject, email address....

3. Each publisher would have the capability of creating and modifying a list of things they don't want to read because they are inappropriate for their house:
 a) don't publish that genre
 b) don't need books on a particular subject because they've got a contract on one
 c) don't publish books for a certain age
 d) don't publish that type of book (board book, early readers....)
The list could also include subjects they are seeking.

yellow warbler
4.  It's a simple matter for a computer to take the fields input and check them against what the publisher doesn't want.  An automated reply could be generated.  The reply could be simple such as "Please mail manuscript with this form" or "I'm sorry your manuscript doesn't fit our needs," or it could be more detailed, "We don't publish poetry....".

5. In lieu of postage, if publishers allowed emailed submissions, they could charge a nominal fee.  The fee could be waived for writers that had a track record of producing submissions that were worth considering.

* A computer is capable of more sophisticated searches, weeding through manuscripts.  For example, if a pre-submission form and first page were allowed, it could identify words that are too long for that age level....

I'm winding down on 3 things I've been working on, so I'm ready to dive into my waiting stack of projects.  

At Padre Island National Seashore, we went on a free 2.5-hour birding tour given by volunteers.  In a van they drove us to spots on both sides of the coast and to isolated ponds, some in areas not open to the public.  We found 34 different birds.  I learned a lot and loved it!



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