For me, the most important thing is the writer’s voice. A synopsis and outline for a nonfiction submission can be very helpful, but a proposal should have a sample introduction and at least a chapter to communicate the quality of the writing—if the finished manuscript isn’t available. With fiction, however, although a sentence in a cover letter regarding the subject matter is welcome, nothing causes me to glaze over more quickly than a plot summary. I read for style, not for plot. If you’re submitting a novel or a story collection, I will want to have full access to it. Your work will speak for itself.
This is a subjective business, and publishers and editors have a wide range of enthusiasms, requirements, capabilities, and taste. We’re all part of a complex ecosystem. But the indie publishing community, of which Bellevue Literary Press is a proud member, is vast and varied. So don’t be discouraged by rejection, and try to identify presses that publish authors of sensibilities kindred to yours. If you’re interested in our books, we may be interested in yours.
—Erika Goldman, publisher and editorial director, Bellevue Literary Press