Friday, April 24, 2009

Submissiveness

submission--an offering of a novel or short story for publication; a presentation of a manuscript to a literary agent or editor with hopes of impending publication; a practice engaged in by a writer in which work is offered to a publishing venue.

The moment comes when a writer knows a particular work is finished, that there is nothing more to be done to it without transforming it into something altogether different that what it is now, that readers will not be aware of any additional tweaking or changes. 

 If the work is a novel, the writer usually sends it to a literary agent because relatively few publishers will read book-length manuscripts unless they have been invited. If the work is a short story, the writer sends it to the editor of a magazine or journal, hopeful of it being accepted and scheduled for publication. Such is the nature of submission. Writers wishing to have their work published accept the process of submission as a way of life, just as the actor or actress accept the reality of audition, equally as the musician accepts the reality of audition.

True enough, some writers are invited to submit stories to journals and novels to publishers. These writers are generally veterans of previous publications, which came from previous submissions.

As a generality, writers whose work reflects a difference in theme and voice, while observing an awareness of what makes a story, will have a higher rate of acceptance than writers who strive to make their work less different, possibly even lapsing into derivative or imitative approaches.

Beginning writers see submission as some Sisyphean chore; published writers see submission as a way of writing life.

When Joseph Heller was told he'd have to change the title of his forthcoming novel, Catch-18, because it was on the same list as Leon Uris's Mila 18, Heller readily agreed to changing the title of his novel to Catch-22 because it had been submitted previously to twenty--one other publishers before being accepted.

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