Thursday, June 16, 2016

Good Agents Don't Spam Publishers

The submission requirements for Newcastlewest Books are quite simple and straightforward. We don't want nobody nobody sent. Manuscripts are considered by referral only. So it's clear that Faye Swetky of the Swetky Agency didn't bother to read the page on how to submit.

We've received a second submission from her this month. It's apparent that she throws submissions out there to see if any stick. Not exactly the mark of an agent who is working for her client, targeting those publishers most likely to want what she is offering.

Her client Dawn Turzio has written a book about New York fire fighter wives, apparently, and the query came to our office where we specialize in books with an Irish influence. Historical fiction in particular, although our CITY THAT WORKS imprint was set up to publish works set in the Chicago area where the Irish have historically supported the auld sod. So clearly there's no link between a modern work of fiction set in New York City, but Faye Swetky didn't let that small detail stop her.

And I am sure that  author Dawn Turzio, with all her credentials, has faith in her agent and expects Ms. Swetky to find her a publisher.

I hope that Ms. Turzio is not paying for the service. If she had done some research and used Google to its full potential, she would have found a thread on the discussion forum at in which things are pretty much laid out about how this agent is an agent in name only.If she knew in advance, you would hope that she would have avoided what is sure to be disappointment when nothing comes of the blanket submissions.

Did Ms. Turzio go the traditional route of finding an agent, writing up a query and utilizing beta readers to vet that query? Did she search the internet to find out how to query, for that matter?

There is so much information out there for budding authors that it's almost staggering, but querying is a definite process with its own set of rules and formats. It's work, yes, and frustrating beyond measure, but there are no shortcuts to getting published. Literary agents can't take shortcuts either, and send out queries at random in the hope they get lucky, like the blind squirrel finding a nut.

And speaking of squirrels, you know that if you feed one it will just keep coming around. With that in mind, I won't be replying to Ms. Swetky's missive. It only encourages her to send more, and our submission requirements are simple but stringent. If you aren't recommended to us, we won't consider the manuscript. We are a niche publisher with very particular needs, a very narrow focus.

No matter how brilliant F.D.N Wives might be, it doesn't meet any of our requirements.

Sorry, Ms. Turzio. But you really should find yourself a good agent who can get your book into the hands of a publisher who is looking for mainstream, contemporary women's fiction.

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