To Future Authors

Although the publishing house is small and not widely known, we receive a large number of daily communications —especially by e-mail—, which we are unable to attend to. This message, which we would like to give the character of an open letter, is nothing more than a letter of apology addressed particularly to those who have written to us without ever receiving a response.

Unfortunately, the tasks of production, administration, promotion and sales necessary to run this business are more than enough to keep two hard-workers busy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is so much to do each day that we are unable to answer to all messages, not even to say hello.

I am saddened, and to some extent embarrassed, that I cannot devote time to write a few personalised lines, which I am sure many of you would expect, and I am even more sorry when authors show knowledge of our catalogue and submit proposals that would seem reasonable to associate with the publisher's background.

I would like to say from here (a slightly desperate message in a bottle) that, even if we do not answer the messages, we always read everything that comes in because we consider it part of our obligation; even when, as is in this case, the catalogue is mainly composed of our own projects initiated from within the publishing house. I would also like to add that on some occasions (three, to be precise) we have published a practically finished book, sent to us by an unfamiliar person, and in these cases we have also taken quite some time to reply: six months the first time, three months the second, and a little over three weeks the third (do not mistake this for progress: we have not gained in efficiency or availability, it is just a mere coincidence).

Are there any instructions for sending manuscripts, samples of illustrations, or book proposals? Some people have raised these questions. When I have been able to answer, I have never given a unique response. I am unaware of how other publishers work, but if some simple arrangements could make everyone's work and life easier, we should think about establishing them.

What does the publisher ask of authors who knock on their door? Obviously, a generous dose of patience. And along with patience, perseverance, which is a beautiful virtue few aspiring authors possess, although equally as important as patience. Prior to patience and perseverance, there should be practical intelligence, conventionally known as common sense, and which we all know is in short supply.

For authors interested in publishing, this practical intelligence should manifest itself in the few points that I list:

1. It is necessary to understand where things are sent, because not all publishers are the same, nor do they publish the same books, and because the task (and the hassle) of selecting those places considered to be most suitable for one's creations belongs first and foremost to the author. Therefore, it is not a good idea to send to a long list of publishers the same generic message while presenting your book thinking that this will increase the possibility of obtaining a response, because what tends to occur is the exact opposite.

2. It is also not a good idea to send very large files (more than 1Mb in our case) or multiple files within a single message (which slows down their reception) by e-mail without having previously requested permission to do so. On quite a few occasions, sending files of these characteristics has caused the programme that manages our inbox to clog, and it seems to me this is not a good way to make yourself known.

3. When dealing with specific projects, it is clear that the most effective way is to send them, either in their entirety or by selecting a fragment, via the most convenient route (sometimes a phone call can solve many doubts); we usually advise, in the case of illustrators, to send a representative sample of their work, rather than a whole collection. Sending a large amount of files (whether these are illustrations, photographs or texts), which happens so frequently, is unnecessary when the author has a webpage or blog where their work is clearly showcased. The link to a personal page can be accompanied by a small sample to serve the purpose of a visiting card or reminder and provoke the curiosity of the editor.

4. While I complain about some excesses in email communications, I must say we are pleased to see that letters are still being sent by traditional mail and that there are still people writing, reading and handling papers. I appreciate the printed samples, even if they are not of high quality, and also the CD or DVD discs containing a wider selection of samples; they are very useful. Under no circumstances, and fortunately hardly anyone does, should one send valuable material that may get lost or need to be returned, such as expensive bindings, or original drawings and paintings.

We only have left to add: Thank you for your patience, thank you for insisting, thank you for thinking of us as the publishers of your books.

Image: His cow's voice, by Arnal Ballester.