Important! Well, to me...
Neil Gaiman recommends that writers read this.
One of my favorite parts, about the small matter of accepting, or more commonly, rejecting manuscripts:
"Manuscripts are unwieldy, but the real reason for that time ratio is that most of them are a fast reject. Herewith, the rough breakdown of manuscript characteristics, from most to least obvious rejections:
1. Author is functionally illiterate.
2. Author has submitted some variety of literature we don't publish: poetry, religious revelation, political rant, illustrated fanfic, etc.
3. Author has a serious neurochemical disorder, puts all important words into capital letters, and would type out to the margins if MSWord would let him.
4. Author is on bad terms with the Muse of Language. Parts of speech are not what they should be. Confusion-of-motion problems inadvertently generate hideous images. Words are supplanted by their similar-sounding cousins: towed the line, deep-seeded, incentiary, reeking havoc, nearly penultimate, dire straights, viscous/vicious.
5. Author can write basic sentences, but not string them together in any way that adds up to paragraphs.
6. Author has a moderate neurochemical disorder and can't tell when he or she has changed the subject. This greatly facilitates composition, but is hard on comprehension.
7. Author can write passable paragraphs, and has a sufficiently functional plot that readers would notice if you shuffled the chapters into a different order. However, the story and the manner of its telling are alike hackneyed, dull, and pointless.
(At this point, you have eliminated 60-75% of your submissions. Almost all the reading-and-thinking time will be spent on the remaining fraction.)
8. It's nice that the author is working on his/her problems, but the process would be better served by seeing a shrink than by writing novels.
9. Nobody but the author is ever going to care about this dull, flaccid, underperforming book.
10.The book has an engaging plot. Trouble is, it's not the author's, and everybody's already seen that movie/read that book/collected that comic.
(You have now eliminated 95-99% of the submissions.)
11. Someone could publish this book, but we don't see why it should be us.
12. Author is talented, but has written the wrong book.
13. It's a good book, but the house isn't going to get behind it, so if you buy it, it'll just get lost in the shuffle.
14. Buy this book."
I think the most important part of the article is that "it isn't personal."
Neil Gaiman also says, "It's amazing how many interesting things are done by people who have no idea what they're doing."
Myself, I feel a swell of confidence when I hear that.
And Speaking Of People Who Have No Idea What They're Doing...
Advice Girl would like to announce that she is now accepting requests for her unique brand of advice, via e-mail.
Since she is technologically impaired, it might be a good idea to send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will make sure she gets them, and maybe even post them here.
Please help me. The busier she is with her advice column, the less energy she can devote to other pastimes.
Like lurking in the shadows by my house, heh heh.
Hold on, I think I just heard a noise in my backyard.