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About Submissions

by Red Sage Publishing

Today I thought we would take a look at how submissions are funneled through the selection process. We prefer electronic submissions, though we take paper, too. But the process is slightly different depending on how you submit.

For electronic submissions, our submissions editor reads the manuscripts before anyone else. She screens out material that we would never publish, and distributes the rest to the acquisitions team. Her rule of thumb is: when in doubt, assign it to an acquisitions editor. She maintains records of each acquisitions editor’s reading preferences, and she’s very good about never sending, for example, BDSM stories to the gal who wrinkles her nose in distaste while reading scenes with handcuffs.

For paper submissions, I personally review and weed out the manuscripts we would never publish. Screening submissions isn’t normally something a managing editor would do, but for practical and logistical reasons, this is how we’ve chosen to handle it for the time being. We’re finding that most people submitting via snail mail are unaware of our publication schedule and our submissions guidelines. This means that most of these submissions are auto-rejects because they simply don’t fit our needs. The few that survive my scrutiny are distributed to acquisitions editors in much the same manner as electronic submissions. I do keep a few for myself here and there, but my other duties rarely leave me time to take on a paper slush partial. I’d be surprised if I’ve kept more than two for myself all year.

Once the submission is with an acquisitions editor, she has much freedom in deciding what to work on. She may reject or not, as she chooses. If she finds something she is interested in, she will generally work with the author on at least preliminary revisions before seeking approval to offer a contract.

We don’t go to contract on partials, and we generally prefer most of the big-scale revisions to be done before making an offer. This is true whether you are an existing Red Sage author or a newcomer trying to break in. This means that the acquisitions editor will most likely either reject the manuscript or request revisions. Not offer to purchase. Not yet.

Once the acquisitions editor believes the manuscript is ready for contract, she’ll send it to me with a recommendation that we buy it. I review the manuscript and either agree to put it under contract or suggest further revisions. Since taking over this part of the process, I’ve never required an editor to reject a recommended manuscript. My fervent hope is that I will never have to. But if an editor loves a manuscript enough to recommend it, it’s usually in excellent shape or needs only minor additional revisions. Exceptions to this general trend are very rare, and in any event, I’d rather give the editor and author an opportunity to fix a manuscript rather than mandating a rejection at this stage.

So that’s how you get from submission to contract.

As far as timelines go, we try to turn everything around in two months. And sometimes we even reach that goal!

Theresa Stevens
Managing Editor

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