Today, The Muffin welcomes Wolf Hoelscher, owner of a new company to help writers and editors connect called Pubmission. We interviewed Wolf to find out all the ins and outs of Pubmission--a website designed to make the process of submitting manuscripts easier for both writers and publishers.
WOW: Welcome, Wolf, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. What is the purpose of Pubmission?
Wolf: The purpose is simply to make the submission process easier for both publishing professionals and writers. Just as Monster.com or CareerBuilder attempts to connect job seekers with employers, Pubmission’s goal is to serve as a central hub for submissions that helps writers and publishers find each other in a simple, less intimidating way. From a writer’s perspective, it takes a long time to hunt through the listing manuals to find the right publisher. On Pubmission, writers can see which subscribing publishers match up with them best. And then they can go ahead and submit to them directly through the site.
There’s been a lot of talk about the death of the slush pile now that e-books and self-publishing are moving to the forefront of the industry. I don’t believe it has to be that way. As a writer myself, I know that it feels like you’re playing the lottery when you submit your work. It’s frustrating and daunting. But traditional publishers and agents still have a lot to offer writers, particularly in terms of editing and marketing. The slush pile isn’t dead; it’s just that the system is cumbersome and time-consuming. Pubmission attempts to rectify that.
WOW: What a great idea--anything to make the process of submitting our work easier is genius! How can writers benefit by using Pubmission?
Wolf: First, let me say that we try to make very clear to writers that Pubmission does not guarantee publication. If your writing isn’t fantastic, polished, and marketable, your chances of finding a publisher are slim. As a writer myself, I know that submitting your work can feel like buying a lottery ticket. But in this Internet age, there are tools out there that can help you prepare and market your submission in ways we never thought possible before. Pubmission is one of those tools.
We try to help writers with their homework. Slush pile editors are often frustrated because many of the writers who submit to them aren’t familiar with their publication and send them inappropriate work. But on Pubmission, not only do we list the guidelines and company info for each publisher, we also show writers which publishers have needs that pair up with the genre and tags associated with each submission.
So as a writer, you can send your submission directly to the publishers you like, and you can submit it to the General Database [on Pubmission], where any subscribing publisher has the ability to search for it.
There are also things you can do to improve your submission’s visibility. Editor Ratings not only show publishers a star rating based on an editor’s appraisal of its saleability, but each comes with a short critique that can give a writer an unbiased second opinion. We’re also adding a page that will show you how your rating matches up with other submission ratings on the site per genre.
And one of the things that I like, now that I have a few of my own submissions on the site, is that you can see in your dashboard how many times each submission has been viewed by a publisher. That beats sitting around waiting for a letter in the mail and hoping that someone is looking at it, that it’s not collecting dust in the corner or lost in a spam folder.
WOW: All of those tools sound really useful for writers. What types of genres are allowed on Pubmission? Fiction and nonfiction?
Wolf: Everything. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenplays, and plays. Of course, we don’t have publishers signed up in every genre, but that’s our goal. Be sure to check out the list of subscribers on our home page; and if you post a submission, you’ll get e-mail alerts whenever a publisher in your genre arrives.
WOW: How can publishers benefit by using Pubmission?
Wolf: As a former acquisitions editor, I designed the site as something I wish I had been able to use when I was facing that large pile of envelopes. I knew that Pubmission had to save paper as well as the time it takes for opening envelopes, tracking submissions with data entry, and sending rejection letters. Now, with Pubmission, publishers and agents can view their entire slush pile on one sortable table, quickly see which submissions have gotten the best reviews, and sort submissions based on keyword match percentages. They can start or stop submissions at any time. They can also contact the writer directly through the site’s message center and send rejections or personalized notes with a click of a button.
But what I really like about the site is that it changes the submission process from a passive act – sitting around waiting for the right writer to come along – to a more proactive exercise. You can find writers for your readers. Say that there’s demand for a new farm-to-table cookbook. A publisher can just search the database for it without putting a call out for submissions that generates an even larger slush pile.
Also, if a gem has entered the database – perhaps a submission with a 5-star rating – the sorting feature of the publisher’s dashboard allows them to see a quality submission right away rather than six or eight weeks down the road when an editor finally opens the envelope or e-mail.
WOW: It is amazing how the right technological tools can make writing and submitting easier these days. It sounds like Pubmission is one of those tools--for writers and publishers! Who are some of the publishers on Pubmission?
Wolf: Most who have signed up during our initial beta-testing period are smaller independent publishers, companies who are interested in the capability of generating a list that matches their readers’ expectations. Wampum Books is a publisher of Native American literature. Odyssey Books is a new Australian publisher. Brighter Books is a Canadian e-book press and TSTC is looking for academic writers. EPIC and Dragon Moon Press are both outstanding science fiction/fantasy publishers. A link to the full list of publishers and their submission guidelines is always available on the home page.
WOW: These are often the publishers that are overlooked when writers are first sending out their work. So, it's great that Pubmission has teamed up with them. Is there a cost for using your services?
Wolf: For writers, Pubmission operates using credits that you purchase or earn. For now, each credit equals $2 USD. But it’s important to me as a writer that there is some free access to the site. So upon sign up, each writer gets 6 free credits, which will allow her to send work to up to three publishers for free if she chooses. Or she can apply the credits to other features like Editor Ratings (15 credits) or the General Database (8 credits). After sign-up, the writer gets 2 additional credits every six weeks. So if you want to use Pubmission without spending a dime, you can.
WOW: Sounds great! A writer can get her feet wet with the free credits and then move on from there. Plus, writers are saving money on ink, paper, postage, and so on. What's the sign up process like?
Wolf: After you enter your professional information, much as you would in a cover letter, you can add a submission. In addition to things like the work’s title, word count, and genre, you can add tags that better define the work in the database. You also provide a short abstract and a submission sample that’s limited to 20,000 characters – which IS about the length of three chapters of a novel. There’s also an allowance for you to upload three illustrations or photos to supplement the submission. Then you proceed to “Submission Control” where you can send the submission directly to publishers, submit it the General Database, and add Editor Ratings.
WOW: Why did you start Pubmission?
Wolf: As an aspiring novelist, I was frustrated with the submission process, especially since I knew what it looked like from the other side of the slush pile—from the editor’s perspective. On both sides, there’s a lot of waiting around hoping for something to happen, and I thought I could create a tool that helped both sides equally, that gave both more control over the submission process. It also had to be transparent and time-saving. And there’s still an enormous amount of paper that’s being wasted through the slush pile. At the very least, Pubmission is saving some trees.
WOW: Thank you, Wolf, for sharing information about Pubmission with Muffin readers. Keep on saving those trees and helping writers and publishers connect. It sounds like a great service. Muffin readers, if you want to check out all that Pubmission has to offer either as a writer or editor, please go to www.pubmission.com.
interview conducted by Margo L. Dill, http://margodill.com/blog/