One of the most common questions I get is a variation on “Would you be interested in carrying my book/CD/artwork?” (The other common question is are you a publisher–see below for that answer.) Historically, I’ve said no, for lots of good reasons. I’m changing that answer, for other, equally good reasons: mainly, that as I’m not at conventions as often as I was in the past, I have less chance to browse Artist/Author Alley for potential inventory.
So I’m opening the door to queries. Here’s what you need to know before contacting TSL:
- The Scribbling Lion IS NOT A PUBLISHING HOUSE. I buy already published work from other small presses. I also self-publish my own side projects through TSL, so yeah, in a sense I’m a publisher. But I won’t be able to publish your book or even set you up with connections to someone who will. Sorry about that. Moving on…
- Small press, self-published, and Big Press books are all accepted.
- If I see three or more misspellings, typos, grammar errors, or stale clichés within the first two pages of your book, the answer to your query will be a polite No. If the opening just doesn’t grab me, the answer will be a polite No. If the concept doesn’t interest me, the answer will be a polite No. I will not tell you exactly why I said No, but it will be one of those reasons.
- If I’m interested in the project, I will be checking your social media presence before contacting you. I don’t care about your politics or religion if your work is good, but if your online footprint consists of illiterate ranting, deliberate trolling, or absurd levels of whiny nonsense, I’m going to pass on working with you. And if this is the only reason I’m declining, I will tell you so. (If you think that constitutes censorship or any form of unfairness, I invite you to grow up.)
- In order for me to sell your work at a convention, I have to be the only vendor stocking your work. I can’t afford to compete. You’re welcome to handsell at panels/performances all you like; but in the dealer’s room, I need exclusivity in order to make any money.
There will be a contract. That point will be locked down in the contract.(Who am I kidding? Screw that. This is a good faith arrangement. If my good faith gets abused, I’ll just stop buying from you. That’s more effective than a bloody contract, don’t you think?) 😀
What you get out of being a part of TSL:
- You’re paid up front, at a mutually agreed upon price–no percentage or table fees.
- The copies I buy are NEVER returned to you. Once it’s in TSL inventory, it’s my problem to get rid of it.
- I boost the signal about your appearances, news, and projects.
- You’ll have increased visibility and support at mutually-attended public events.
- (That’s too stiff. Translation: at said events, I will be selling the everlovin’ fuck out of you and your work. Trust me: I got the dance down on that part, at least. 😀 )
- You’ll be tying in to a network of fellow creatives/readers that want to support and encourage you in your work.
- (Still too formal. How’s this: I know a guy. He knows a guy. And I’ll make sure you get to meet them. 😀 )
- And, of course, your work will be listed for sale through yet another outlet, both on and offline…something you can never have too much of!
What I want to see:
- Science fiction
- Non fiction
- Work that makes the reader think
I very much want to see work from countries and cultures that are not mainstream American; from folks for whom English is not their first language; from people on the fringes of American mainstream culture. Right now, I’m more interested in work by POC, women, and LBGTQ than in the work of cis het white men. (Not uninterested in the latter, please note: merely less interested.)
I am absolutely not, not, not interested in stocking:
- Overtly religious themes
- Family histories
- Local area histories
- Steamy genre romances
- Rape/abuse stories masquerading as horror/romance
- Fluffy, chick-lit style stories
- Stories told from an animal’s viewpoint (It is VAGUELY possible that something ASTOUNDING would catch my attention, but it’s really not worth rolling the dice on this.)
- Hateful themes (This is not a subtle line, believe me. I’m talking about unmistakable hatefulness here.)
Haven’t scared you away yet? GOOD!
How to query:
- Treat the query like any professional pitch letter. Give me the elevator-pitch summary on your project, on who you are, on why you think I’m a good reseller for your book.
- Attach the first thousand words or first two chapters of your project, whichever is shorter.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Format the attachment as a PDF. I do not want editable copy. I will delete editable copy unread.
- Email the query to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you query:
I will do my best to get back to you within five business days. If you don’t hear from me by that point, send me a polite nudge; sometimes good emails get caught up in the filters.
If the answer is No, your options are:
- Shrug and move on.
- Try again with another project but ONLY if that project is substantially different than the first.
If my answer is Yes, I’ll send you all the information about what happens next
., including a resale/promotional contract. (What? A contract? Yes. Trust me, I don’t want your first born child. It’s a very simple, basic agreement aimed at helping both sides succeed.) As I said above, I’m ditching the contract idea because it was logistically silly.
And I shall invite my ever-expanding Pack to bask in beams of Internet sunshine with me, and to share our oasis with many others, and to live our lives with the most serene confidence in our creative brilliance and complete joy in our process.
…what, you’re still here? Why haven’t you queried me yet? Seriously, get moving already! *swat*