I could make a metaphorical connection between Tuesday's sunset (above) and the text of tonight's entry (below), but let's not.
As many of you know, for the past fourteen months I've been waiting for Tor Books to respond to my three chapters and synopsis for Heirs of Mâvarin, with a yes, and no, or a "Let us see the rest." I've sent a follow-up letter, and a friend has asked in person; but still there's been nary a peep, apart from word that Tor editor PNH was familiar with the submission.
About two weeks ago, Wil pointed me to a blog entry by A.C. Crispin, which essentially advised against doing what I've been doing. Crispin said that rather than wait for "months and months" to hear from a publisher or agent, without a word in reply, a writer should at some point count the non-response as a rejection, and go back to querying. I sorta meant to follow that advice, except that I really felt that I owed Tor at least a courtesy letter saying that I would now be submitting it elsewhere. And frankly, I dread revising the cover letter yet again. So I haven't done anything yet. Yes, I know: bad writer, no biscuit!
Then a few days ago, the friend offered to mention it to Patrick again, and advised that Tor is kind of a "special case" with respect to that particular piece of advice. He felt I probably shouldn't give up on Tor yet, and frankly I found this advice more appealing than its opposite.
Well, then. Tonight I got a bit of a shock in the form of new information from Tor itself. No, they haven't sent me anything - nothing that I've received, anyway. But Sara (no h) told me that John Scalzi mentioned in one of his blogs that the Tor website had been redesigned. Sara had checked it out, and found something that wasn't there the last time I looked. In place of the submission guidelines I followed back in February 2006 are new and very different ones. They say, in part:
Generally we respond to unsolicited submissions within 4-6 months. Unfortunately, your manuscripts and our replies sometimes go astray in transit. Because of the volume of submissions, it's not possible for us to track down any individual project; please don't call for a status report. If you have not heard back from us after six months, please resubmit.Great. That tells me three things I didn't know before:
- Their policy is not to respond to my follow-up letter (or my friend's personal contact) asking about the status of my individual submission. This is very definitely not what the guidelines used to say. It used to say that after the 4-6 months one could send a letter referencing the title, date of submission etc., and that it would be responded to promptly. I sent the letter after a year and nothing happened - and the new guidelines say that nothing is supposed to happen.
- Either they rejected the proposal months ago and the reply never reached me, or it's still under consideration, but way outside the time window. I have no way of knowing which, but the former now seems more likely than the latter.
- If I insist on hearing back from Tor, my only option at this point is to send a new package, which under the new guidelines will not be returned. I am to enclose a standard SASE for the reply only. I actually don't mind not getting all that paper back. The question is whether it's worth the effort and expense of submitting it again to this publisher, as opposed to, for example, DAW.
If I go with #3, am I a total fool? 'Cause that's the way I'm leaning on this. Meanwhile, I've got to get moving again on submitting to agents. This slush pile business is a whole lot of no fun.
Let me hasten to add, since I'm not big on burning bridges (and because I really believe this), that I don't blame Tor's editors and publisher for changing the guidelines in this way. Rather than leave someone like me hanging, waiting for a response that may never come, it's better to tell people up front that certain things aren't feasible and not to expect them. They even explain most of the whys and wherefores. But oh! It is discouraging!