Bowker to Launch Manuscript Submission Program

Asked to free-associate with the name “Bowker” most publishing people think of such publishing services as ISBN book-identification numbers and similar tedious but essential data.  But, in a surprising announcement emailed to publishing professionals, Bowker today announced a service for authors, and one guaranteed to raise some eyebrows.

“I am writing to inform you of the exciting release of Bowker Manuscript Submissions,” writes Natalie Piccotti. “a new online service allowing authors to submit their manuscript ideas to a number of publishing houses from one central location. will be featured at Book Expo America in May 2010, and will officially launch in June 2010.”

The initiative is designed to “streamline the process of sorting through an overwhelming volume of unsolicited manuscripts publishers receive. Built off the success of Christian Manuscript Submissions, Bowker will now provide a similar service to the trade and higher education publishing communities.”

For an annual fee of $295 the program will…

* Sort by subject of choice and submission date
* Search by keywords in title, description and topic
* Identify proposals that have been professionally edited
* Cut down on wasted time – our system remembers your last date of entry so you do not read previously reviewed manuscripts
* Contact the writer directly
* Find proposals by author’s name
* Review an author’s publishing history, book summary, and writing style in one step

Before literary agents’ noses go out of joint, the announcement reassures them that the submission program will enable them to promote their services and match their clients’ ideas to the best possible publisher.

Our nose remains in place (though permanently deviated 5 degrees by a football injury), but we suspect many an agent will wonder if the program can substitute for or even supplement a lifetime of knowledge and wisdom, experience and cultivation of relationships.  Will Bowker Submissions know if the science fiction list of Publisher A is inventoried, or the romance editor of Publisher B just jumped to Publisher C, or if Publisher D just acquired the same idea from another author six months ago?  Will Bowker Submissions buy us lunch? Will it hold an author’s hand when her idea has been shot down at ten houses?

These mean-spirited observations aside, we welcome the program as an interesting attempt to offer vital information for authors and agents.  And here’s the best part – if Bowker makes a match between an author and a publisher, it won’t ask the agent to split a commission.

Richard Curtis


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