A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How not to...

I just had a look at Caroline's BubbleCow blog and saw that on the same day we both wrote an 'Oh, what's occurring?' post. What a co-inky-dink, eh? Reminds me of listening to the Scott Mills show after a long day, stuck in traffic, driving home from the coldness of Tonto Towers. Ah, such memories.

Anywho... it also reminded me that I haven't had a 'how not to' rant in probably a couple of days. How could this be? Well, as some of my recent posts may suggest, I've been stuck in invoice-chasing hell. So that takes up most of my working day, but it is almost all done.

Over the years, we've had one emailer in particular who would send rambling messages about ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL, yet with a vague reference to writing. As they progressed, Paul replied to a few more and she began to address them to him, but then started to call him John. When Paul left the company and I received another email to Paul/John, I had to reply and put a stop to it all. And now I miss them. After weeks of shouting down the phone at incompetent accounts people, it is nice to have a baffling email or two to mention to the cat at lunchtime.

Here's a 'how not to' for the archives - it came in a couple of weeks ago:

Two chapters from my novel are attached.

Dhamma is an early chapter; Pirates opens the second part. These chapters, and others in the book, stand on their own as short stories.

Novel is near finished. Wonder if you're interested

Needless to say - I wasn't interested.

Flattery always works:

Hello Tonto guys - I've looked on your fine website and noted with great interest that football has featured in your books in the past. I'm sure you're all Newcastle fans there but would you be willing to consider a Leeds (United) author? After all, you've taken some of our best players over the years, how about taking one of the city's best authors?
I would be chuffed to talk to you about my latest novel XXXXXXXX, which I think is my best work to date - much more detail is on hand at the website www.XXXXXXXXXX - please take a look.
I hope you're interested but if not, I wish you only the best at Tonto, it's one impressive set up you have there.

It shows that enquiry letters don't always have to be the standard ones that you find in the Yearbook.
Use a bit of humour.
Get them on board with a bit of flattering but don't overdo it.
Get to the point in a way that isn't pushy.
Don't send unsolicited material - instead, ask nicely if they'd be interested in seeing it.

Of course, the new website will have submission guidelines but I think it is essential for an indie publisher to have a 'quite' open door policy in that people should be keen to approach. And I am keen for people to approach Tonto with submissions. There have been some amazing non-fiction submissions in 2009 so far and it is all very encouraging. Even when Tonto reaches such dizzy heights that I'm lighting cigars with £50 notes, or posing in the back of stretch limos quaffing vintage champagne, I will always welcome the kind of query letters I'd send to other publishers. And remember - other publishers might not like this approach. Find out about the company first... if they are a bit quirky, then you can be. You need to do a bit of research.

It's all in the approach! The manuscript could be the best in the world but it won't get read unless you get your query letter right. And get your synopsis right.

Oh, and GET VOTING! It's neck and neck between Make It Back and 9987 in the poll.

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