Since I am in the sweaty process of submitting my work to find an agent and/or publisher, I have come across many different kinds of submission policies. Some policies are very simple; send a query letter and we’ll get back in five minutes to tell you that we can’t do you for XYZ reasons.(You can pick one). Some of the policies are very complex; like the Oxford Press Guidelines for Author Submissions, which requires the hiring of a consultant to complete. The simple ones are somewhat merciful, in that, there is not much effort wasted when the results come back unfavorable. Not true with the complex. It takes hours to prepare a submission and then usually a six-week waiting period. (Which generally is more like six months) The whole effort then becomes a killer exercise when the rejection arrives. (Notice I say when) Sometimes there is no response since the agent or publisher only responds to those whose work they want to review more closely. Nicely most of these undercover agents publish this fact on their web site, so for warned is for armed.
Just for fun
For fun I thought I would take the Oxford Press Guidelines (Warning:Very Complex) and pretend I am an agent trying to get the Bible published for the first time. I want to use Oxford as my publisher. The disclaimer here is; this is only fiction and is not intended to be taken seriously. Further disclaimer; I am not on any better speaking terms with this story’s client than anyone else on the planet, therefore I cannot help you with anything. Okay with those disclaimers, here goes:
Guidelines for Author Submissions by Oxford Press USA
Brief Description – In one or two paragraphs, describe the work, including its rationale, approach, and pedagogy. ?This book is… It does… Its distinguishing features are…?
My Answer: Um…God lays down the law to all of mankind and do it with stories that mankind can understand, so by its nature it is pretty simple.
- Outline – A detailed outline of the book should be prepared, including the chapters being submitted for review. This gives us an idea of how the material fits together, and how the remaining chapters will be developed. It should include chapter headings and sub-headings, with explanations as necessary.
My Answer: It goes from the beginning to now with a couple of notes on how the world ends
- Outstanding Features List – Briefly what you consider to be the outstanding, distinctive, or unique features of the work.
My Answer: My client tells me that it is his word
- Will the book include photographs, line drawings, cases, questions, problems, glossaries, bibliography, references, appendices, etc.?
My answer: My client says,” Nope”
- If the book is a text, do you plan to provide supplementary material to accompany it? (Teacher’s manual, study guide, solutions, answers, workbooks, anthology, or other material.)
My Answer: My client says, “I’ll leave the material up to the readers to develop.”
- Consider the existing books in this field and discuss specifically their strengths and weaknesses. Spell out how your book will be similar to, as well as different from, competing works.
My Answer: My client says, “nothing compares.”
- Consider what aspects of topical coverage are similar to or different from the competition. What topics have been left out of competing books and what topics have been left out of yours?
My Answer: My client almost left out Adam and Eve which have become pretty interesting characters.
- Please discuss each competing book in a separate paragraph. (If possible, please provide us with the publisher and date of publication as well.) This information will provide the reviewers and the publisher a frame of reference for evaluating your material. Remember, you are writing for reviewers and not for publication, so be as frank as possible regarding your competition. Give credit where credit is due, and show how you can do it better.
My Answer: My client says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
The Primary Market
- What is the major market for the book? (Scholarly/professional, text, reference, trade?)
My Answer: Sinners
- If this is a text, for what course is the book intended? Is the book a core text or a supplement? What type of student takes this course? What is the level? (Major or non-major; freshman, senior, graduate?) Do you offer this course yourself? If so, how many times have you given it? Is your text class-tested?
My Answer: Core and there will be a bunch of folks teaching eventually
- If the market is scholarly/professional, reference, or trade, how may it best be reached? (Direct mail, relevant journals, professional associations, libraries, book or music stores?) For what type of reader is your book intended?
My Answer: Reach by Fire and brimstone meetings. The reader is anyone who needs to be saved.
Status of the Work
- Do you have a timetable for completing the book? My Answer: DONE
- What portion or percentage of the material is now complete?
- When do you expect to have a complete manuscript?
- What do you estimate to be the size of the completed book? My Answer: HUGE
- Doublespaced typewritten pages normally reduce about one-third when set in type; e.g., 300 typewritten pages make about 200 printed pages. There are about 450 words on a printed page.
- Approximately how many photographs do you plan to include?
- Approximately how many line drawings (charts, graphs, diagrams, etc. ) will you need?
- Do you plan to include material requiring permission (text, music, lyrics, illustrations)? To what extent? Have you started the permissions request process?
- Do you plan to class-test the material in your own or other sections of the course? (Any material distributed to students should be protected by copyright notice on the material.)
My Answer: Nope let er rip
Select one or two chapters of the manuscript that are an integral part of the book. They should be those you consider the best-written ones, and do not have to be in sequence. For example, you might submit chapters 3, 7, and 14 of a 20-chapter book, so long as these chapters represent the content and reflect your writing style and pedagogy in the best possible light. It is also advisable to submit any chapter that is particularly innovative or unique. Sample chapters should contain rough sketches, charts, hand-written musical examples or xerox reproductions, and description of photographs to be included. The material need not be in final form, although it should be carefully prepared and represent your best work. In your preparation, emphasis should be on readability. Please do not bind your manuscript, as we will have to unbind it in order to make photocopies for reviewers. Also be sure all pages are numbered either consecutively or double-numbered by chapter.
My Answer: I would go with Genesis through Ruth which is attached. When you see the words “Thee and thou,” that means you.
If we are interested in your project, we will commission outside reviewers to read and evaluate your proposal. We will, of course, obtain the best available reviewers to consider your work. If you wish to suggest the names of experts in your field whom you believe to be ideally suited to evaluate your proposal, you may provide their names, titles, and email addresses. While we are unlikely to approach these scholars to act as reviewers themselves, we may ask them for their suggestions for peer readers. Naturally, we do not reveal the names of reviewers without their permission.
My Answer: The Devil hates it. The Angles love it. ( I don’t mean LA)
Please include a current CV or brief biography of your writing, teaching, and/or educational background and experience. Be sure to list any books that you have previously published, and any other information about yourself on why you are qualified to write this book.
My Answer: In the beginning my client made the Heaven and Earth
Please allow at least 6-10 weeks for the manuscript proposal evaluation and review process. We will contact you as soon as we have had a chance to thoroughly examine your manuscript proposal. Thank you for your interest in Oxford University Press. We look forward to reading your materials.
My Answer: Talk to you then. My client is available everywhere.
Sorry for the length of this post. Hope you enjoyed. Have a nice weekend