My biggest query faux pas ever had to be the time I submitted to a small publisher, Spinster Ink. One day I was searching for publishers on the Internet and I came across another southern publisher. Great, I write about Southerners! So, I clicked on the site. On the home page they had a statement that said how they were committed to giving a voice to women writers—I’m a woman writer—that their mission is to publish fiction that taps into the hopes, fears, dreams and fantasies of women today. My pulse started to race knowing that my books dealt with these very topics. Next, it said their books celebrate diversity and honor strength in the face of adversity . . . and are always life-affirming.
OMG! My stories were definitely about strong women, or women who become strong through their struggles, and most important, they were both life-affirming.
And to sweeten the deal, the web site said that they welcome, and have published, many previously unknown authors.
Hallelujah, I had found my publisher.
So, I clicked over to their list of current titles. The first book was about a homeless teen with a “weakness for punk-rock girls.” Okay, so they said that they welcomed diversity. The next title was a historical fiction about a woman who meets her employer’s daughter at a masquerade. Then, there was a thriller about a married, female journalist who goes on tour with a woman’s soccer team, finds danger and ultimately what “matters most.” Great, my second book had strong elements of suspense.
With much enthusiasm I read through their submission guidelines, followed the instructions to the letter and an hour or so later emailed off my query and submission. Later that day, I got to thinking, Spinster Ink, why “Spinster?” A couple of days later I was still excited, and awaiting a reply, so I decided to “stalk” my future publisher. Back on their web site, I saw that they were a division of Bella Books. If I was going to be working with these people I should at least have known who their subsidiaries were. Right?
Well, to make a depressing story less painful, Bella Books publishes strictly for Lesbian readers. As you can imagine, the proverbial light went on in my head. Spinster: a woman who has never, who will never, marry. Books about women who fancy punk-rock girls, meet at masquerades and go on tour with a female soccer team. Uh-huh.
Oops. What is it called when a person only sees what they want to see? Denial? Desperation clouding rational thought? An unpublished author? But just as the realization that, not only was I a naive idiot, but that I had, in fact, not found my publisher, was sinking in, the indicator on my email bonged, telling me I had a new message.
And right on cue, a response from Spinster Ink came through, graciously letting me know that, while my book dealt with important women’s issues, they only publish books with a strong feminist quality that emphasize the Lesbian lifestyle.
Moral to the story: don’t forget to read between the lines, and if a publisher seems too good to be true, you’re probably delusional. Or, desperate. More than likely, you’re simply an unpublished author.