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Deciding Not To Submit To Harper Voyager Directly

Last month, as you all know, I wrote about my thoughts concering Harper Voyager opening itself up for direct submissions until October 14th.  I could have easily hit that deadline and had Under the Darkened Moon edited and formatted.  And for a few weeks I was seriously contemplating doing just that and submitting my novel for consideration.

However, after much thought, I have decided not to take advantage of the opportunity.  Yes, even thought his opportunity may not come around again to directly submit to Harper Voyager.  Some people might think that it is foolish for me pass up any opportunity.  But, as I have learned in my life, just because opportunities present themselves does not mean all should be jumped at.  I’ve had my fair share of opportunities that I took simply because they were opportunities and have been left holding the proverbial bag.

Ultimately, my decision to not submit comes down to several factors.  Some of these factors are things that Harper Voyager themselves said and promoted.  For example, the fact that they were very eager to point out that they would accept previously self-published books weighed heavily on my decision.  They went out of their way, in my opinion, to point this out in their release announcing their open submissions.  After talking it over with several other budding authors and people in the publishing industry, my fears that I stated in my original post only became more and more justified.

“It would be a smart move on Harper Voyager’s part to look long and hard at established e-book authors.  If someone was able to sell 1,000 or 2,000 copies of their books alone, without the support of a big company promoting them, it stands to reason that maybe, just maybe, once HarperCollins steps in they can do even better with the work in question.  The issue however is will Harper Voyager give a higher weight to these sorts of authors over the truly green author who has not even gone the route of e-publishing yet?

…  I can’t say for sure.  But I know that if I were Harper Voyager I would be.” – Mathias Cavanaugh

Most I talked with seem to me in deep agreement that, while Harper Voyager may not be exclusively looking for established e-book authors, they would be very, very smart to focus on such authors.  As someone without even a published e-book to my name, I would not get as thorough of consideration as others.

Look, publishing is a business.  Harper Voyager is in this to make money.  One of the best ways to make money is acquire talent that is already proven to make money.

The other big factor was something else that I opined about in my original post.  I said:

“This bothers me and has also tempered my enthusiasm.  Harper Voyager says that, “We’re actively seeking speculative fiction genres, especially epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia, supernatural and YA.”

They are covering a whole gambit of genres.  This seems like a shotgun approach to get as many submissions as possible.  I am sure that they are not equally interested in all of these genres and there are some preferences to some over others.  It is also vague as to whether or not they are going to seek to print a certain number of each or just the absolute best regardless of category.  The later rewards talent, the former rewards talent, but also requires luck and leaves some talent invariably discarded.” – Mathias Cavanaugh

Couple this with Harper Voager talking about how resubmitting previously submitted, but rejected works, was not allowed unless the previously submitted work has had extensive re-editing?  Making no allowance for why it was rejected, such as quotas?  I see myself potentially shut out of Harper Voyager for my story IF they ever open up for general, direct submissions again.  Because with thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of submissions, I don’t care for those odds right off the bat.

I know the argument about how the cream always rises to the top.  First off, I know that that is not always the case.  I’ve read plenty of garbage that has been published by major publishing houses and plenty of wonderful stories that had to be e-published after being rejected by them.  Secondly, I am under no delusions that my work is necessarily part of the “cream”.

So, yes, I will not be directly submitting this time around.  I would rather have an advocate, a literary agent, pitching my work than be lost in flood of submissions.  For me personally, I think it is the right choice.  Now all I have to do is get a little more editing done and find that literary agent.

However, as I said in my original post, I think that for established e-book authors this is a wonderful oportunity to take a bite at the apple.  If you have published books and had success after being rejected over and over again by literary agents, I think you have nothing to lose by getting your manuscript in to Harper Voyager before their looming deadline.


  1. Ginny
    October 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm | #1

    Very well reasoned. If only other authors were as patient as you are. I think it would seriously increase the quality of what is being published.

  2. Tom
    October 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm | #2

    You list a lot of good reasons why Harper Voyager MIGHT NOT be interested in your novel.

    You list zero good reasons why you shouldn’t submit it since it costs you basically nothing.

    A major, international publisher WILL look at your book (or at least your query letter). There are no agents, no gatekeepers, no prereqs other than a finished novel. Who cares what the odds are or what their focus is or what their motives might be? There’s really no downside here. Submit your book!

    This is a free opportunity and you’re throwing it away.

    As I write this you still have an hour to submit your book thanks to a deadline extension due to an earlier technical glitch on their website. There’s still time…

  3. wynnie
    October 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm | #3

    I disagree Tom. Mathias’ reasoning is very sound. Although what is clear is that you don’t like it.

    Why risk getting shut out for his novel at one of the big publishers due to extremely vague solicitation guidelines if you don’t have to? Harper Voyages is just trolling for established ebook authors with a proven record of sales. This is abundantly clear. It is also VERY smart.

    Beyond that, they will certainly sign some untested talent. However the crushof manuscripts they are now under makes getting to that level too much of a crapshoot with the downside being no future chance for his novel to be considered again by them.

    As an agent, I certainly wouldnt want to represent a manuscript already shot down by one of the big publishers. That limits who will even look at it before I get my hands on it. The downside is much bigger than you are making it out to be. Slow and steady wins the race.

    Mathias, keep up the good work and keep doing what yout’re doing. You’ll be rewarded. You’ve proven, to me at least, that you are on the right path. Not all opportunities should be jumped at and you are wiser than most for realizing that.

  4. DML
    October 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm | #4

    Of course, anyone who follows Mat’s Twitter feed knows that today he is only on chapter 40 of his last edit with a few more chapters to go. So obviously he isn’t ready to submit anyway.

    Wish I was as patient as Mat is. It’s good, I think, to really make sure that manuscript is polished well before letting leave te nest.

  5. agent x
    October 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm | #5

    From personal experience, both former literary agent and author, the worst place for your manuscript to be is in a pile with thousands of other manuscripts and an unmeetable deadline for them to all be read and given proper consideration.

    There is no way that HV is going to be able to give these manuscripts proper consideration in the time they have alotted. Not the numbers of them that I’ve heard they have recieved. They are going to yank anything that is semi well written commercial fiction, dangle a contract, and run with it. Woe be to you if you don’t fit the mold of cookie cutter commercial fiction and the silly idea that if the first five pages don’t pop you’re not worth the time.

    They’re looking to fill out their B list. Nothing more. The worst place you as an author can be is on some publishing company’s B-list. Few ever get bumped to A status and most get replaced within a couple years with a new B-lister. You’re in a sort of limbo. You don’t get the promo resources you need to really succeed, but you get just enough that you don’t fall off the cliff either.

    Desperate authors who have exhausted all other means can take a bite. But for the budding author I advise you to stay away.

  6. October 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm | #6

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    I like collecting opinions. They always seem to come in useful later on.

  7. bon jenkins
    October 16, 2012 at 5:39 am | #7

    What I like is that you came to the decision that is right for you, but still encouraged others to take a shot.

  8. an author
    November 8, 2012 at 9:34 am | #8

    I came to pretty much the same realization as you did Mathias. As an author who has yet to publish anything, I don’t see them being interested in me as they search for b-list authors who they will bully into contracts without an agent to help guide the process and act as a voice for the author.

  9. ihaveasuitcase
    November 14, 2012 at 11:00 am | #9

    Mathias, you sound afraid of success. I know you think you pulled back because it wasn’t a good career move, but why on earth do you have a whole bunch of unreleased material available for agents but no publication credits of any sort, yet refused to participate in a legitimate attempt to see if your work stands out in a crowd? I’m looking forward to reading your novel and will happily beta read it for you when the time comes.

  10. agent x
    November 15, 2012 at 6:08 am | #10

    What are you talking about? Affraid of successs? How so?

    If anything, Mathias seems more prepared for success than all the hyperventalating authors who rushed submit to things like this. It is clear that he understands the process and what Harper Voyager is looking for and attempting to get its hands on.

    As I said before, there is no way HV will be able to give legitimate consideration to anything submitted through this process. There simply isn’t enough time to do so. That is not something a serious author trying to get their first novel published wants to get involved in. I speak from experience. But you can choose to ignore that experience if you so choose.

    Furthermore, I am a little confused over your criticism of Mathias. You state that he has “a whole bunch of unrealeased material available for agents.” I don’t know where you get that information from.

    I’ve been reading this site for several months and what I see is that he has a short story which was under submission to a writing contest and a single novel that he is still working on polishing. I don’t know if that amounts to what you claim it does.

    Mathias, don’t listen. Do what you’re doing. You’ll be sucessful with the attitude you have.

  11. Becky
    November 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm | #11

    “ihaveasuitcase”, I think that Mathias’ reasons for not submitting are sound. First, he’s still editing. Second he has nothing published yet. Third, HC is going to have a lot of submissions and it seems mplausible that every manuscript will get a proper vetting.

    I’ve read Mathias’ work. It’s good. He’s making it better.

  12. laurie davis
    November 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm | #12

    ihaveasuitcase, you come off as way to arrogant for me to take seriously.

    Mathias, you’ve got more patience than I have that is for sure.

  13. angie wade
    November 21, 2012 at 10:57 am | #13

    Mathias, I agree with you. I also chose not to submit to this. HV made the announcement and gave about a month of notice. That told me they only really wanted already self published manuscripts so that they could pick and choose some that already had a track record of limited success. Still working on my first novel too, like you. So I didn’t fall into that category.

    If HV really wanted to hunt talent other than self published authors looking for a contract, they would have given more notice for more people to touch up their manuscripts.

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