French publishers to wannabe writers: stop sending us your stuff

By Carmen Comment

Whereas most big-name US publishers and imprints stopped accepting unsolicited submissions eons ago, the French are a little slower on the uptake — and finding that there are a record number of unsolicited submissions coming in:

“My secretary says to me: ‘If you only knew how many upset phone calls I get or how many insults.’ We are in touch with the whole of humanity,” said Francis Esmenard, director of the Albin Michel publishing house, on the sidelines of the Paris Book Fair. He further adds that it doesn’t take very long to distinguish the good from the bad. “You don’t need to eat a whole side of beef to know if it is good quality meat,” said Esmenard. “You just need to read four or five pages to know whether a manuscript is worthy of being published.”

So what’s causing the increased workload for readers and mailmen? Blame the 35-hour workweek, an uptick in retirees and a general desire by French women and men to write “their book”, which is almost always based in autobiography. And even though publishers still claim to look for talent, it’s defintely getting a lot more difficult to separate wheat from chaff…