Monday, May 30, 2011

TUESDAY TIPS AND TIDBITS - The Dust-off Challenge

Penumbra Publishing publishes fiction books for sale. We are a royalty-paying 'micro-publisher' (25 or fewer titles per year) with a traditional approach to publishing, meaning we pay for the publishing costs and split the sales royalties with our authors.

We are also authors who have banded together to help each other do what authors do – write. In our somewhat limited experience, we have seen many query packets that left much to be desired – so much, in fact, that we had to turn down books because, in our collective opinion, these books required more time and effort and work in the form of rewriting than we were prepared to offer.

In the interest of providing a community service, and to give our blog ( more grist for the mill, we are offering a challenge for all you unpublished authors out there who have not yet been able to figure out why you can’t get your books published by a large traditional publisher. Or maybe you just haven’t worked up the courage yet to ignore the ‘no unsolicited manuscripts’ warning most publishers post, and just send the darn thing, hoping someone will take pity on you and publish your book. Or perhaps you’re hoping to self-publish and haven’t yet worked up the courage to go through with that somewhat daunting process. Whatever the case, we are offering to give a free critical analysis of your query packet and your work. Here is our challenge to you...

Send us your tired, your poor, your hungry... (No, wait, that’s from the Statue of Liberty inscription, isn’t it?) Never mind that. Dust off that FINISHED MANUSCRIPT and send us your would-be / could-be query. No obligation, no strings attached – except a disclaimer agreement to allow us to critique your query on our blog. We will post your query letter and synopsis in whole or in part, plus our take on the first 25 pages of your manuscript, giving you detailed advice regarding how we think you might improve your work and your query approach.

We get plenty of queries to keep us out of the bars at night. And we do provide a critique privately for most queries we receive, but we also figured that a public critique might benefit writers out there who are having a hard time figuring out how to make their query packets (and their manuscripts) the best they can be. We invite you to participate by sending us your query packet (for finished manuscripts only) to our general email address...

Please send the following via email:

SUBJECT LINE: Dust-off Challenge

QUERY LETTER: Include in body of email and tell us in your best words why we should publish your book. Don’t ramble, make your query letter short and sweet, no more than two regular pages if on 8.5x11 paper. Tell us the following:

  • Your name (and pseudonym if applicable)
  • Your email address
  • Your real address
  • Your phone number
  • Your book title
  • The genre of your book
  • The number of electronic words of your book
  • A brief description of your self-marketing plans, including URLs to your web site, Facebook page, Twitter profile, etc.
  • List any relevant previous publishing/writing experience or education or professional affiliation.
ATTACHMENTS: As an attachment to the email please include the following in one file either WORD or OPEN OFFICE or RTF...
  • A two-page (or shorter) synopsis of your story, including major characters, major story arcs, and ending
  • The first 25 pages of your novel or first chapter as close to 25 pages as you can get
We'll email you back with a queue number, giving you an idea of what week your query critique will appear in our blog. We will use first names only and will not disclose any private information. However, if we find your writing style and story interesting enough, we may ask you to submit your entire manuscript for review for publication. You of course are not obligated in any way to respond to such a request – but you might be excited if we offered you a publishing contract, right?
And that’s the extent of the DUST-OFF CHALLENGE. So figuratively dust off your book languishing in your sock drawer, and let us take a look. If nothing else, just taking another look at it yourself may give you the incentive to follow through and get it in shape to publish! And maybe that will be all the push you need to become a published author.
Patricia Morrison, Penumbra Publishing


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