As a publisher, I hate it when authors do these 5 things ... and love this one.
The secret is out! Ethicool is on the hunt for their next brilliant manuscripts and equally incredible authors, and are currently knee-deep in reviewing everything in our *ahem* slightly overflowing inbox. In great news for a few authors, we've already found some absolute gems and will be announcing some new acquisitions in the next few weeks!
But as for the rest of the manuscripts...
There are hundreds of *nearly there* ones, but a lot that we feel need tweaking in some way, shape or form (this is one of the reasons that Ethicool has introduced their manuscript assessments, book your spot now to secure special launch pricing.)
But beyond the vast improvements that are available via our manuscript assessments, Ethicool's founder, Teigan, wanted to pen an op-ed here about what publishers (or specifically, what we) look for in our authors ... and also on a few things that are less than ideal! Over to Teigan.
For those of you who haven't met me, I'm Teigan, one of the founders of Ethicool Books. I get asked SO OFTEN what Ethicool looks for when we partner with new authors, so I wanted to share my views from a business perspective.
So without further ado, here are five things that authors do that I kind of hate ... and one thing I absolutely love!
1. Authors who don't introduce themselves
Whenever our talented editorial team send me a manuscript complete with a blank email, I am often a little confused. Is this a person, or a story robot?
But in all seriousness, as a business owner, we consider our authors to be our partners-in-crime, our confidants, even our friends. So it is extremely baffling to me when people want to start that relationship without even an introduction!
Authors, I want to know who you are! I don't need to know every detail of your life, but a brief bio about what you care about and value, any achievements (they don't have to be publishing-based!), and why you care about the Ethicool mission would be super great to know.
On a related note, sometimes people forward us submissions with just an email address ... not even a name! A name is definitely a must :)
2. Authors who can't market themselves
In case you're unaware, the book publishing industry - and in particular, the children's book publishing industry - is absolutely cut-throat in how competitive it is. As an author, it's essential that you do whatever you can to market your book, and you don't just lean on your publisher to do it all for you.
This includes creating and maintaining an author website and a social media presence, as well as proactively recommending your book to your network and getting involved in your community.
As a business owner, it definitely rings my alarm bells if we have a manuscript from an author who (it seems like) can't market themselves. This comes across in many ways, but sometimes it can be in introductory sentences that say something like "I've just been made redundant from my job so I'm giving this a shot" or "I've never written anything before, but feel like royalties would be a good stable income" (I am using actual examples here.)
As a traditional publisher, Ethicool invests significantly in bringing your book to life, and so at a minimum, we want to know that our authors can market themselves, and are not just "trying this publishing thing" for a bit of extra cash.
3. Clichéd characters or storylines
This is definitely something that can be further delved into in our manuscript assessments, but even if a manuscript is brilliant, it it's too clichéd, we won't take it. This is more or less true of all publishers, but it's definitely true of us.
As a progressive publisher, we want stories and characters that make us think and challenge the status quo. This is definitely not achieved when we have another story about a princess getting eaten by a dragon.
4. Relentless follow-ups and/or complaints
To my previous point about us seeing our authors as partners and people we cherish within our business, you can see that what we do with authors is build a relationship. And while a brilliant manuscript is a brilliant manuscript, you might be able to see how that relationship may start on the wrong foot if an author stalks us.
As per on our submissions inbox autoreply, we always - every single time and without a doubt - will contact you if we want to progress your story. Typically that is within about 2 months, but not always. Sometimes we just don't get to it in that time and need to come back to it later.
We juggle a lot of balls here at Ethicool, and unfortunately, one of those cannot be updating every potential author every few days about their manuscript. We review them all - I absolutely promise - so please do not feel like you need to email us constantly. And honestly, just personally - it's really so mean when you write long complaint emails to our editorial team (or me personally) that we haven't gotten back to you, even though we specifically state that we can only contact successful authors.
5. Authors who aren't interested in growth and improvement
One of the big reasons that we started Ethicool was because we wanted to learn and grow ... and we want the publishing industry to learn and grow, too. We try new things all the time and we're completely open to the fact that sometimes they may work, and many times they may not.
I've already had a few authors email through and say that they don't need feedback on their stories via our manuscript assessments as they know they are already experienced/talented/good enough. While only our editorial team can be the judge of that, here at Ethicool we really want to partner with authors who know that, regardless of their boundless talent, there's always room for more and better. We think that that's the only way to take on the industry stalwarts, to be honest ... but also to fulfil our broader mission of helping little ones make the world a better place.
The one thing I love...
I don't want this post to be too negative, so I thought I would end with the one thing aspiring authors do that I love.
As a small business, every author counts, but so does every customer. So if you really want Ethicool to publish your book, get involved with us. Buy a book; recommend us to a friend. Enquire at your children or grandchildren's school about whether they'd like one of our author visits or to take advantage of our hugely discounted school offers. Fundraise for your favourite cause using our books.
We may be busy, you might not always see us, but we notice. We're small and we do notice who is involved and who wants our brand to succeed, and that definitely gives us pause when we're considering all of things beyond a brilliant manuscript that makes a great author and the perfect partner for us.
Have you submitted a manuscript to us recently? If you haven't, now is the time! If you have submitted a manuscript and haven't heard from us, we highly recommend a manuscript assessment to ensure your story is the best it can be.