Submission Guidelines


From Max Nomad’s laptop:

(last updated March, 2010)

First and foremost, thank you for considering BGP to submit your manuscript for review and possible inclusion in our catalog (NOT affiliated in any way with B&G Publishing or B&G Publishing group). Since I am the Acquisitions-Editor-in-Chief, I’m dedicating extra time and care to make sure potential authors fully understand what we expect from any manuscript to be considered for publication. Simply put, these guidelines define the kinds of books we want to bring to life. Because our interests and requirements are subject to change, consider this page a living document. Please review the latest revision on this site before submitting your manuscript.

Between myself and my creative associates, most of our income is from sources other than publishing. Although we do offer services for any author that wants to self-publish through his/her own company, we’re a non-subsidy, non-vanity press, garden-variety small TRADE publisher with a great deal of flexibility. Personally, I do this out of a love for Creativity in Graphic Design and Marketing, a desire to give voice to segments of cultures on the fringes of the mainstream, and a love-hate thrill of working with authors and editors to produce and publish some really cool books. As a result, BGP can take risks by investing time and money into releasing some types of books that many mainstream publishers would probably pass up. Because of lower overhead of a virtual company, BGP uses a variation of the traditional publishing revenue model that allows us to offer authors a royalty percentage that is often higher than what they would receive with larger publishing houses (anywhere from 10% to 40%, depending on production costs and marketing overhead).

As a “micro” publisher in the eyes of the industry, this is a guerrilla-style operation with late nights, long days and shoe-string budgets. It’s the blood, sweat and tears that goes into editing and packaging each title that sets us apart, giving each book a quality on par with anything in the bookstore chains while maintaining a hint of the custom feel of a commissioned piece of art.

Please be sure to read this document thoroughly. Manuscripts that do not meet all the defined criteria are subject to be deleted, returned or thrown away without being read. If this seems draconian I apologize. I guarantee most writers can’t understand the rationale behind this unless they become publishers and receive their first 200-page handwritten submission that looks like it was drafted while the author was being chased–and then a week later two more arrive that look just as bad.

Acceptable Manuscript Status:


Book Rights:

All manuscripts submitted to us must be the original creation of the author. This means the writer must own all copyright and publishing rights to the book and it has a clear chain of title (i.e. – no other contracts with another publisher related to the book and it is free of all legal constraints). If all or part of the work has been previously published, we will only accept it if the rights have reverted back to the author. Unless otherwise agreed upon, Bohemian Griot Publishing, LLC retains the first option rights to publish a print copy for sale.

If the rights to your book does not meet that basic criteria, save your time and postage and don’t bother sending it to us. We prefer our drama to be inside a good book — not in a courtroom.


Manuscript must be complete:

We do not accept proposals for unsolicited books that have yet to be written. The manuscript must be complete, polished to the best of your ability (i.e. – edited, proofed, and spell-checked). Depending on your spell checker is definitely not enough.

NOTE: Although we expect some level of editing to have been done to the manuscript, additional editing will be done by our editors. If you are not comfortable with this, please submit your work somewhere else like a vanity press. We don’t have the time or patience for dreamers that don’t understand the business.

When we accept submissions:

We accept unsolicited submissions during the months of October, November, April, and May. During these four months we review manuscripts from new and previously-published authors and choose our next book projects. If you are planning to submit your work and the current month does not match one of the months listed above, DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR WORK. During the off months unsolicited submissions and queries will not be considered nor will they receive a reply.


Simultaneous submissions:

We do not accept simultaneous submissions at this time.

What we’re interested in publishing:

As of this writing, BGP has enjoyed the most success with Memoirs. “Next Stop: Growing Up Wildstyle in the Bronx” by Ivan Sanchez was originally packaged and published by Bohemian Griot in Dec 2006. By March of 2007 we had secured celebrity endorsements and worked with Levine Greenberg Literary Agency to broker a deal and sell the Book Rights to an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The author and BGP entered into an agreement to retain the audio book rights and the film/tv rights. Simon and Schuster’s re-release of “Next Stop” was released in October of 2008. Not bad for this also being the first manuscript by an outside author that BGP had picked to publish.

Non-Fiction:

  • Autobiography / Biography / Memoirs – between 60,000 and 80,000 words in length. We are particularly interested in stories where the person undergoes significant life-changing growth (or triumphed over adversity), and have a story to tell that might influence others from a similar background.
  • Essay Collections – average essay between 500 and 10,000 words, up to 70,000 words for the entire book. Subjects can range from Spirituality, Philosophy, Socially-relevant issues, Satire, and almost anything else that will inspire people to laugh, cry, love their neighbor or just to think.
  • Social Commentary/Criticisms – between 40,000 and 60,000 words. Anything that would be good fodder for discussion on Talk Radio or among you and friends over the intoxicant of your choice.
  • Fundraiser Cookbooks (for non-profit organizations) – particularly ethnic cookbooks. I’d like to see more collections of Pan-African, Filipino and Greek-American recipes.
  • Art Books – particularly of the coffee-table variety. Must have gallery credits and plenty of photos to review.

All non-fiction work that isn’t a personal biography must have an annotated bibliography of sources done in Chicago style along with a table of contents and brief synopsis of each chapter.

Fiction:

As of this writing, BGP has never published any books that can be completely classified as fiction. I have a novel-length work that I am currently revising and breaking up into a short series of Novellas. Along with being a narrative form that appears to be steadily making a comeback in this digitally-saturated world, I believe that the novella will be better suited for introducing book lovers to previously unknown/unpublished authors.

  • Novellas – works longer than a short story but shorter than a typical novel, usually between 20,000 and 40,000 words in length.
  • Novels – between 60,000 and 90,000 words.
  • Short Story Collections – average story between 2000 and 15,000 words, up to 70,000 word total.

The stories themselves should fit into one or more the following styles or genres:  Action/Adventure, “Coming of Age”, Humor, Literary Fiction, Pop-Culture, “On the Road”, Speculative Fiction, Suspense/Thriller. Romance/Erotica is OK only if mixed with one of the aforementioned genres.

Multimedia CD and DVD content:

Promotional Video Montage DVDs and Kiosks (made for hire on a contractual basis). Always accepting resumes and portfolio links for Graphic Artists, Illustrators, Photographers, Editors and Content Writers.

What manuscript genres should be submitted in a query letter, synopsis and the first three chapters ONLY:


Urban Fiction:

I love a compelling story, regardless of its genre or background. I have two problems with Urban Fiction: (1) there’s a tendency among some publishers/bookstores to mislabel fiction featuring Black and Latino characters as Urban Fiction (regardless of the story) and (2) half the submissions I receive that are labeled Urban Fiction tend to have trite plots full of flat characters. Urban Fiction is a relatively recent marketing term, not a Literary classification. Bad writing, missing punctuation, scores of misspelled words and overused plot devices shouldn’t be considered acceptable as ‘Urban Fiction’ nor is it a sign of “Keepin’ It Real” but, due to this misconception, it happens all too often. For example, many of the stories I’ve received involving a love triangle tend to have (A) a selfish man cheating on his altruistic wife/girlfriend (50/50 chance of kids being in the picture), (B) the girlfriend(s) giving moral support to the scorned woman (ala “Waiting to Exhale”), (C) at least one “slut character” (may or may not be the same as the other woman), (D) one or more men that are also cheating dogs, (E) at least one good man that’s not old enough to be a grandparent, (F) an elderly Matriarch/Patriarch (e.g. – Big Momma from the movie “Soul Food”), and a stereotypical gay hairdresser who always acts as the comic relief (too many examples to choose from). If it’s a story revolving around yet another Scarface ripoff in the drug game there’s always the glorification of Thug Life, at least one “good girl” dating a “bad boy”, some freaky hoochies, at least one drug deal gone bad, and somewhere in there we always have the character(s) who didn’t deserve to die but gets killed somehow (e.g. – Tupac/Biggie/Jesus Christ figure). In film form, usually the end of the movie is predictable within the first 20-30 minutes.

Bottom Line–if your story reads like a ripoff of Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, Zane or any early Tyler Perry movie, don’t even bother submitting it. Again, we’re looking for original voices telling original stories.


Experimental Fiction:

I’ve read some really good Experimental Fiction and I’ve read some serious garbage. Feel free to take a chance by submitting some to us–but it had better be good.

What is a Query Letter and/or Synopsis:

A writer that doesn’t know how to write a query letter or synopsis is like an aspiring pilot that doesn’t know how to taxi down the runway to takeoff–the heart and spirit might be there but the basic experience isn’t.

A good place to start is here at the Writer’s Digest Store. Pick up that book, maybe a copy of the current Writer’s Market or Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, get to reading, and then come back to us once you’ve got a better understanding of how to come correct. You’ll be glad you did.

What NOT to submit at all:


No Poetry:

Yes, I know. My first book, Midnight Sketches, was a collection of poems and short stories. The main problem is that poetry tends to be something people like to write but not too many people like to buy. It’s amazing how often I still receive cliched submissions by failed Rappers-turned-Spoken-Word-artists, women scorned, ex-cons, Starbucks beatniks, and angry Goth/Emo kids who hate the world. When the state of pop-culture poetry evolves from ego-masturbation or some form of conjugating the verb “Fuck”, I’ll reconsider this policy. Until then, the only poetry I’ll publish will be from poets I solicit–period.

BGP does, however, provide Book Coaching Services to help poets professionally publish their own books — and, unlike going through so-called Self-Publishing services, I’ll provide a basic financial blueprint to maximize your chances of making your poetry-publishing venture PROFITABLE.


No Romance/Erotica:

Again, the problem is cliches. Writing a good Romance is tough enough as it is but, like with Erotica, there’s a tendency for inexperienced writers to submit thinly-disguised chapters straight from their own lives. Although there’s a juicy sort of voyeuristic charm in the scandal-factor, often there are also huge plot holes, the characters remain underdeveloped or flat, and the endings are as predictable as low tide. There is also a tendency for first time Romance novelists to write a few pages of thin plot followed by long passages of seduction and hot booty-slappin’ sex, then back to a flimsy plot followed by more sprawling pages of literary porn, and so on.

NOTE: I like a good Love story and when it comes to Erotica, as an artist, I’m probably freakier than most. Romance and/or Erotica mixed in with another genre is OK (e.g. – Action-Romance, Mystery-Romance, etc) but it should be well integrated into the whole story. A good rule of thumb is this–if you can take out that love interest or any steamy sex scene and the feel and pace of the plot doesn’t change, that’s a good indicator it probably shouldn’t be there in the first place.


No Children’s Literature:

Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. It’s also in BGP’s business plan to eventually publish Children’s Books and young adult fiction/non-fiction. Quite frankly, the problem is that most of these types of submissions tend to either (1) come from very inexperienced writers that can’t take constructive criticism or (2) the story is made up of one or more anecdotes from the writer’s past, often the kind that carries a sentimental value to the writer but rarely to anyone else that reads it. In both cases, the plot and the characters tend to remain flat from beginning to end. Such stories are unsellable without some drastic revisions, the kind that inexperienced writers in this genre are often not willing to do.


No Joke Books:

Even though we hear jokes often being passed by word of mouth, someone came up with them and they can be copyrighted. Researching the Chain of Title to hundreds of jokes would be a costly headache for any publisher that doesn’t have at least one Intellectual Property attorney on staff.

If your genre or book concept
is not addressed above:

For any other genre or book concept not listed above, submit the idea in a query letter below.

Acceptable Manuscript Format (digital):

  • The digital version of your manuscript submission must be saved in Rich Text (RTF) format. No other document format is accepted without prior permission. If you are unsure how to do this, use the “Save As” feature of your word processor, scroll down till you find “Rich text Format (RTF)”, select it, and then save a copy of your manuscript.
  • 12pt Courier font.
  • Do not double space your text.
  • Use italics for an italicized word. Do not underline.
  • Do not use bold anywhere.
  • Use two dashes (or an em dash) for an em dash. No spaces before or after.
  • Use three dots for an ellipsis. No spaces before or after.
  • For scene breaks, use an asterisk (*) centered on a separate line.
  • No other formatting is necessary.

How we expect to receive your printed manuscript:

Before submitting your manuscripts make sure they are in the standard manuscript format. The following is how we expect to receive our manuscripts:

  • We’re in the 21st century and your manuscript should reflect that. HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPTS WILL NOT BE READ. For the sake of setting a standard, use Courier 12pt ONLY. The use of any other font without prior permission is grounds for the manuscript to be trashed or sent back unread.
  • Do not justify the text. By this I mean don’t select the option from your word processor that makes every line of text end exactly at the right margin. Remember, you want your manuscript to look as though you typed it, even if you are printing it on a laser printer.
  • Use 8.5″ x 11″ white paper, 20lb or better (no more than 32lb weight).
  • Only print on one side of the paper.
  • Do not staple the pages together.
  • Use a 1-inch margin all around the text.
  • Double space the text.
  • Show new paragraphs by indenting the first line of the new paragraph by five spaces. Thus:
    This is the end of a paragraph.
    
         And this is the start of the next paragraph.  Note
    
    that the text is double-spaced, and non-justified.
  • The top of the first page: Put your name, address, telephone number and email at the top left of the first page. Put the word count to the nearest 100 words at the top right of the first page. Something like this:
    Jane Doe                                  50,000 words
    123 Main Street
    New York, NY 10010
    janedoe@bgpublishing.com
  • The rest of the first page: The manuscript’s title and your name should appear a little less than halfway down the first page. Then leave a couple of blank lines, and start the content. The title and your name should be centered:
                  GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL
    
                           by
    
                        Jane Doe
  • Place the page number, your surname, and a keyword or two from the title on the top right of every page after the first one. It should look like this:
                                    Doe/Great American Novel/20
  • To show a scene break, leave a blank line, then have a line with a single asterisk centered in the middle, then have another blank line. Thus:
    With a poof, the wizard disappeared.
    
                          *
    
         It was a dark and stormy night,
  • Do not use italics. To show text that should be italicized in the final published version of the story, underline that section of text.
  • At the end of your story, leave a couple of blank lines, then write “THE END” or “###” centered on a line.

How long do submissions take to get a response?:

Authors should expect to wait up to 8 weeks to receive a response.

As I stated earlier, my associates and I earn most of our income in areas outside of what we publish. Although this affords us the luxury of putting more time and effort into our book projects, our editorial review process is just as sluggish as with any other publishing house. It takes time to review good manuscripts, estimate their production costs, and then determine which ones have the best chance of selling in the current market climate.

How to send us your manuscript:

NOTE: Print manuscripts no longer accepted — electronic only.

We’re looking forward to meeting new talent and being introduced to new worlds. Send your package to:

[contact-form 1 “Manuscript Submission Form”]