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'10 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Have More Good Sex
I Can Do Better ...
Trying to Get the Feeling
Plotting and Planning
Character Profiles
Discovery Draft
Be Bad to Be Good
E-Book Revolution
Naked for Halloween
Sex With Pilgrims

by Louisa Burton
The Music of Words
The Balancing Act
Your Fictional World
Backstory & Foreshadowing

The Fine Art of Submission
by Shanna Germain
Nailing the Query Letter
Banish the Boring Bio
Becoming a Market Master
Become a Market Master, 2
Backstory & Foreshadowing
Enticing An Editor, Part 1
Enticing An Editor, Part 2
Contracts, Money & More

Serious about Smut
by Vincent Diamond
No More Horsing Around
Short Stuff
Selling Short Stories
Editors' Pet Peeves
Settings: Beyond Time & Place
Beating Up Your Scenes
Selling Your Books in Person
Staying in the Saddle

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Broken Rainbows
Talk the Talk
10 Commandments for Writing
Plotting to Avoid
Cover Story

'10 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
St Valentine's Day
Renaming Body Parts
Sex, Cigarettes & Erotic Fiction

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
C. Sanchez-Garcia
Kathleen Bradean
Lucy Felthouse
Neve Black
PS Haven
Tracey Shellito
Tresart L. Sioux

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
Plenty of Miles Left
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Coffee Time
Castrated Words
Virtual vs. Actual Romance
The View from Gallows Hill

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
The Fashion Industry
The Same Old Same Old
Writing Porn
About the Closet
... About Spirituality
Making Sense of Religion
Worked Up About Monogamy
What's Next
All Worked Up About Nature
Still All Worked Up...

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Holiday Ghosts
Love and Romance
An "Interracial" Epic
Trying to Make It Go Away
Sexual Etiquette
Sex and Children
People Against Bad Things
Virtual Acceptance
His Cold Eyes, His Granite Jaw
A Flash of Northern Light

The Fine Art of Submission

How to Properly & Professionally Prepare,
Package and Present Your Work To Markets
by Shanna Germain

Ooh, Baby, Yes! Enticing An Erotic Editor, Part 1


The Fine Art of Submission by Shanna Germain

First things first: An editor is not your enemy. Nor is she your friend. Over time, she may become either or both of these things, it's true, but first and foremost, your editor is a potential current customer. And while the customer is not always right, they are always deserving of your respect, your consideration and your best.

Nice sentiment, but what does that actually mean out in the real world? Let's do a series of roleplays and I'll show you. The roleplays are called: Adept Acceptance, Responsible Rejection and Careful Question. They're not as sexy as Naughty Nurse, natch, but they're incredibly important in creating a pleasurable, successful erotic writing career.


[In which your editor is dressed in her Yah You outfit, which mostly consists of a big grin, two thumbs up, and a very tiny amount of money or prestige wadded up in her fist.]

Your Editor: Thank you so much for your submission to The Book You Really Really Want To Get Published In. We'd like to use it if it's still available, although I have some editing suggestions and changes I'd love to propose. Please let me know at your earliest convenience if you'd be willing.

You, Inappropriate Responses Numbers 1-4:

1. Don't respond at all, or respond slowly. Why, oh why, would anyone ever do such a thing, you ask? Because you're nervous or excited, because you don't check your email more than once a week, because you went on vacation and didn't leave an automatic "I'm away until xx" response, because you didn't read it carefully and didn't realize she wanted you to write back.

2. Respond by squeeing on the page in excitement. OMG, I CAN'T BELIEVE UR GOING TO TAKE MY STORY!!!!!!!! I've been waiting so long for someone to say yes, and I told me husband and he of course asked if i was getting paid but I told him it didn't because i was so excited and thank you thank you thank you for saying yes! No. No. And No again. It's okay to be both grateful and excited, but not to grovel. And certainly not to misspell or IM-speak in your excitement.

3. Respond with an oh-shit moment. These most-often occur when you don't have good records (see my last column) and you forgot that your piece has already been accepted elsewhere.

4. Respond with a perfect-story moment. These usually sound something like: Thank you for accepting my story, but I can't allow you to do any edits. It is perfect as it is, and therefore if you won't publish it like that, I'll have to withdraw it.

You, Appropriate Response Number 1:

Dear [editor's name],

Thanks so much for accepting my story, [story name] for your anthology, [book's name.]. The story is still available, and I can't tell you how delighted I am that you want to include it in the collection!

I understand that the piece could use some editing -- I look forward to seeing your suggestions, and to working with you to improve the story.

Thank you again.

[Your Name and Contact Info]

ROLEPLAY GOAL ACHIEVED: A timely response, a little gushing, a little gratefulness, a lot of professionalism and a willingness to work with the editor to improve the story. An editor can't ask for much more than that. Note that you're not accepting her actual edits here — you wouldn't want to do that without seeing them. You're just accepting her desire to make some changes to your story. You can worry about the nitty-gritty once you get to that point.


[In which your editor is dressed in her Fuck, I Hate Writing Rejections outfit, which mostly consists of a big frowny face, a huge cup of coffee for comfort and a soft voice.]

Your Editor: Thank you so much for your submission to The Book You Really Really Want To Get Published In. We received far more stories than we could use and had to make some difficult choices. I'm afraid we won't be able to use your story. Best of luck with your writing.

You, Inappropriate Responses Numbers 1-3

1. Respond by raging on the page in anger. OMG, I CAN'T BELIEVE UR GOING TO REJECT MY STORY!!!!!!!! I've been waiting so long for someone to say yes, and I told me husband that you rejected me and he read my story and said ti was the best that was ever written. Again, just no. Not only are you losing all of your professionalism in the yelling and the spelling, you're also giving yourself a reputation as a spoiled brat and a headache-maker. Editors are busy and overworked: headache-makers are not welcome. Neither are death threats or reverse black ball attempts ("I'm never going to submit to you again!").

2. Respond with woe. Please don't write your editor and tell them that you're going to kill yourself if you don't get a piece rejected soon. Don't tell her that she is now the reason you're going to quit writing forever and ever. She's already sad as it is — it's hard to reject people. Don't make it worse.

3. Respond with a request for help. These usually sound something like: I'm sorry my story didn't work for you. I've looked and looked and I can't figure out what's wrong with it. Can you please tell me? As an editor, these are the notes that dually break my heart and infuriate me. Yes, I'd love to help you be a better writer. If I had time. If I wasn't trying to make a living as a writer. If you had offered to compensate me for my time and knowledge.

You, Appropriate Response Numbers 1 and 2

1. Don't respond at all. Most editors won't notice if you don't send a response to their rejection of your story. Instead, take that time to work on improving your writing, and send them another story. It's okay to mention that they rejected an earlier story, especially if they asked you to try again.

2. Dear [editor's name],

Thank you for letting me know about my story, [story name] that I'd submitted for your anthology, [book's name.]. I'm sorry that piece didn't work for the collection, but I appreciate you taking the time to let me know. 

I look forward to submitting something else to you in the future. Best of luck with the collection.

[Your Name and Contact Info]

ROLEPLAY GOAL ACHIEVED: Again, professionalism is the key. It's okay to say you're sorry that they didn't take the piece, as long as it's just one part of the whole response. If the editor's busy, she may barely read your letter. On the other hand, if you're both professional and grateful, she may invite you personally to submit again, and then you're opening the door to that 'friend-editor' thing I mentioned earlier.


This roleplay is just like the others. If you have questions, if you don't understand the guidelines or the edits or the contract, feel free to contact your editor and ask. Try to put everything all in the same email so she can answer them all at once, be sure to remain professional and grateful, and when she does respond, don't forget to thank her.

Of course, these guidelines aren't just about acceptances, rejections and queries — they go for every correspondence you have in the erotic writing world, whether it's with a copyeditor, another writer or a reader. They'll also come in handy when we look at next month's topic: Negotiating contracts, proofing issues and money matters.

Shanna Germain
September 2010

If you have comments or questions about this column, please send them to Shanna Germain

Learn more about The Fine Art of Submission with Shanna Germain in ERWA 2010 Archive.

"The Fine Art of Submission" © 2010 Shanna Germain. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Shanna Germain believes that a query letter is like a handshake to your editor: professional, welcoming and covered in germs. Her stories about lust, love and leviathans have appeared in places like Best American Erotica, Best Gay Romance, Best Lesbian Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best American Erotica and more. Visit her online at

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'10 Book Reviews


Apocalypse Sex
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Bare Souls
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Best Women's Erotica 2010
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canít help the way that i feel
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Coming Together...C. Sanchez-Garcia
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Coming Together...M Christian
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Coming Together...Remittance Girl
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Erotic Brits
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Fairy Tale Lust
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Like a God's Kiss
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Like a Sacred Desire
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Like a Veil
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Making the Hook-Up
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Peep Show
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Please, Ma'am
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Spark My Moment
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Three In One Blow
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Erotic Novels

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I Came Up Stairs
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The Memorial Garden
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On Demand
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Once Bitten
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Rock My Socks Off
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I Spy a Wicked Sin
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Libertine's Kiss
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Gay Erotica

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