Should Pop-Ups Screen Submissions?

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AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
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Feedback from viewers suggests that some do not know that Pop-Ups simply reflects the quality of submissions we're sent, ie no pre-screening. In fact, compared to the typical submission pile, the quality is surprisingly better.

But it does raise the question of whether we should pre-screen for a certain quality threshold - what do you think?
 
I have to admit I can't make up my mind on this one, so I'm just going to throw out some thoughts.

Would that cut your workload as you can put some aside, or increase it as you now have to pre-screen?

Would that mean you'd have more time for each sub?

I'm assuming the pile would still be big enough for a weekly show, weeks on end?

Going through a variety of subs (qualitly wise) could be more educational as we get to see what and why it doesn't work. A less polished sub is good as a 'lesson'.

Would you get barked at for prescreening?

I guess it would have to be clear from the off that this is happening, or someone might wait and wait and wait then email asking why their work hasn't been 'on the show' yet.

I'm probably leaning towards a 'yes'.
 
Feedback from viewers suggests that some do not know that Pop-Ups simply reflects the quality of submissions we're sent, ie no pre-screening.

Interesting that people think this, I thought it was quite clear that all the submissions came straight from the slush pile--even when I first stumbled across Pop-Ups.

I'm also divided on this. While more time on each submission might be nice, it may veer too close to Surgery territory. I also like the fact that Pop-Ups is open to anyone--everyone starts on a level playing field. I also agree with @Barbara that seeing different quality subs is quite useful as higher-quality subs are less likely to display common submission problems/weaknesses that writers need to overcome.

I guess it also depends on who the majority of viewers are. If most are writers, having variety is good for our education. It shows where the bar lies and highlights where we might be going wrong in our own work. If you're getting more interest from industry professionals, then it may be better to pre-screen and give the pieces that make it through more exposure and targeted feedback.

I'm probably leaning towards a no. Unless, of course, you're inundated and something has to give. :)

Thinking as I type here: I could see a potential for the Litopia community to step in and pre-screen with the right setup. I've seen a 1-5 rating system work quite well. One person might give a piece a 1, while someone else might give it a 5, which would help reduce the subjectivity of people's tastes. That said, it's still a lot of admin!
 
It wouldn’t significantly change the number of submissions per show, which is roughly six at the moment, less if we have a publisher guest on who we want to chat to a bit, more if we’re feeling ambitious.

I couldn’t pre-screen submissions by myself, I just don’t have the time. It’s a task that could be well suited to the community here. A points system sounds workable.
 
As soon as you said "points" my stomach clenched because I was reminded of Autonomy. :(

While I understand instituting a point system for pop-up submissions wouldn't be the same thing as that site, I'm in the "no pre-screen" camp for the very reason you began pop-ups. It's a chance for people to see the process raw, without any filters or pre-conceived notions.

I see no value in pre-screening other than the collective, subjective opinion of the Colony comes into play. The submissions which do make it onto the show would already be favored, at least in part, by the group.

But what does that do to your process on air? I feel as if any pre-screening would defeat the entire purpose of the show.
 
I'm with Carol Rose. Would the submission you called in last night have made it through pre-screening, given that it was controversial? As a newcomer to Litopia (and someone with a submission in the queue for pop ups!) I think it's great that you look at every one. It's your reaction as a professional that's so valuable and rare.
 
I'm with Carol Rose. Would the submission you called in last night have made it through pre-screening, given that it was controversial? As a newcomer to Litopia (and someone with a submission in the queue for pop ups!) I think it's great that you look at every one. It's your reaction as a professional that's so valuable and rare.
I was wondering that myself. A points system might simply favour mediocre work that people could more or less compromise on. Hmm.
 
I'm in the no camp.

I think, like in the case of the submission that was called in yesterday evening, that may not have made it past a screening process. I personally liked the voice, but then it spoke in an utterly familiar way to me (a lot of people speak like that in Ireland.. and not just in pubs :oops::D) but the language may have been a complete turn-off in general.

And also agree with @Carol Rose on all points, especially:
I feel as if any pre-screening would defeat the entire purpose of the show.
 
I'd broadly say no, and no points system, but let your T and C's take care of it, and anyone not complying has then screened themselves out.

You pre-screen already, Peter, at least potentially, in that you might not present to the panel what you feel is utter 'drek.'

And that's essential if Pop-Ups is to be taken seriously. When you have a guest agent or publisher on the panel, there has to be a realistic chance, however hypothetical, of your industry guest finding something they could actually imagine signing, so that there is a chance of a direct business reward for them.
 
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You pre-screen already, Peter, at least potentially, in that you might not present to the panel what you feel is utter 'drek.'

I do very slightly. My own aversion is to material that treats child abuse in what might be seen as prurient way, I just don’t want any part of that. Much as Jon Wood was talking about an extended rape scene in a submission he considered, rejected, and then found other publishers fighting over (it was much reduced in the finished book).
I do lightly glance at material now before it gets scheduled, although I didn’t initially.
 
I was wondering that myself. A points system might simply favour mediocre work that people could more or less compromise on. Hmm.
I think so. I was thinking about your seminar on voice, where you said that a strong voice would likely be marmite. A points system would be problematic then.
 
A few more thoughts:

Pre-screening in the colony would take a fair amount reading time, which personally I don’t have. Yes, I can find the time to watch pop ups but I wouldn’t' be able to spare time for pre-screening the subs. I work. I already have to restrict myself if / when I give feedback to other writers. Then I have my own writing. I wouldn’t be able to read 5-6 subs every week and give a thumbs up or down. My own personal reading / research is already taking a back seat.

Another question: how many colony members would be willing and able to take the time to pre-screen? You might end up with only one or two voices on some occasion. I’m sure they would be good voices, but the process is so subjective. They may turn something down which you would think is fab but never get to see.

Also, what if a submitter isn’t happy that their sub didn’t make it past the colony, where does that leave the colony? Do you want to burden the colony with the Karma of the submission process, and the potential fall out? I think the ‘no’s should come from you, because the 'yes's will do.

If I look at it from a submitters POV, I would want the industry input, not the colony’s; I would want your input, Pete’s input. It’s not that I don’t trust the colonists, I do, totally, entirely, but if I send a sub, I’d like it to end up in front of someone who navigates the industry, someone in your seat, the selling seat, the man who talks to the publishers. To me, the colony input is what happens in the writing groups.

And there will be submitters who aren’t colony members. They might not be that happy that the colony decides whether or not their sub goes through to the pop up and in front of the panel. They may be a bit miffed that @AgentPete wasn’t the one to make the decision, especially since they invested years on their work.

One thing that concerns me most about this is that a pre-screening would create a gatekeeper culture in the submission process. Pass the colony test and you will be put in front of the ‘big man’. Is this the way you want to go?

The thing is, if you decide to take someone on as a client following the pop ups, I feel it should be your process all the way up.
 
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No colony gate-keeping, I'd totally agree. T and C's could rule out graphic paedophilia or other violent sexual material on the grounds that Peter doesn't represent those market genres, in which case saying so up front would not be censorship, but explained in the interests of not wasting a writer's time.

It is @AgentPete who is the draw. Writers submitting need to know about the panel beforehand, and they will, if they have watched any of the Pop-Ups, which they should before submitting, basic research in their own interests. Some writers might not welcome that input and may even resent it as irrelevant and not part of the deal so far as they are concerned. Especially if it doesn't go their way, and panellists were to be seen as the decision-makers, able to overturn Peter's assessment. They don't know us. It's Peter they're pitching, though we are trying to do our best on their behalf.

I think the quality overall is pretty reasonable- good in general. Shame perhaps, that there aren't more stand-out public 'call ins'. But if the agent feels the subs aren't quite there, and the panellist readers and chat-room concur, then the writer has had the potential benefit of more than only one response, even if that response is the key one for them; the agent's.
 
I'd broadly say no but let the T and C's take care of it and anyone not complying has then screened themselves out.

You pre-screen already, Peter, at least potentially, in that you might not present to the panel what you feel is utter 'drek.'

And that's essential if Pop-Ups is to be taken seriously. When you have a guest agent or publisher on the panel. There has to be a realistic chance, however hypothetical, of your industry guest finding something they could actually imagine signing, so that there is a chance of a business reward for them by appearing.
I do very slightly. My own aversion is to material that treats child abuse in what might be seen as prurient way, I just don’t want any part of that. Much as Jon Wood was talking about an extended rape scene in a submission he considered, rejected, and then found other publishers fighting over (it was much reduced in the finished book).
I do lightly glance at material now before it gets scheduled, although I didn’t initially.


You probably need to, just to ensure we give FB no reason to shut us down.
 
Writers submitting need to know about the panel beforehand, and they will, if they have watched any of the Pop-Ups, which they should before submitting, basic research in their own interests. Some writers might not welcome that input and may even resent it as irrelevant and not part of the deal so far as they are concerned.
I just realised, I may have been fuzzy in my writing above (hospital waiting room, long story), but it's the 'trial by colony' pre the panel I was referring to. I think the input of the panel itself on the day is superb and adds tons of value. Long continue the panel.
 
I'm with Barbara and others and in the No pre-screening camp.
The feedback on less good submissions is equally informative as for "good" submissions, sometimes more so.
Having a voting system in the colony may turn it into something of a competition (such as it was for Authonony), not really what I came here for.
 
When you have a guest agent or publisher on the panel, there has to be a realistic chance, however hypothetical, of your industry guest finding something they could actually imagine signing, so that there is a chance of a direct business reward for them.

Totally agree with this, so here's a suggestion:

how about those who get called in during the pop ups get "re-called" for a SECOND session WITH the publisher present on a set day in the future (once a month or so). This would pre-screen the subs for the publishers, but it would be done by Pete plus Colony panel still, and the publisher gets the chance to pick from subs that are ready. The Publisher Submission Event. And the submitter will have the chance to tweak their work following the feedback from the initital pop up.
 
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Totally agree with this, so here's a suggestion:

how about those who get called in during the pop ups get "re-called" for a SECOND session WITH the publisher present on a set day in the future (once a month or so). This would pre-screen the subs for the publishers, but it would be done by Pete plus Colony panel still, and the publisher gets the chance to pick from subs that are ready. The Publisher Submission Event. And the submitter will have the chance to tweak their work following the feedback from the initital pop up.
Can people clarify what the pop ups are 'for'? I thought we were pitching to Pete. Would a publisher really pick something up from the pop ups? Presumably they would need to see more than 700 words at that point?
 
Can people clarify what the pop ups are 'for'? I thought we were pitching to Pete.

Yes, you are, really :)

Bringing on the occasional pub is nice, because you get to see (and chat to) a real live publisher, and see how their minds work re submissions. But it’s also quite haphazard, i.e. there’s no guarantee that the publisher du jour is actually in the market for the genres offered that week. I feel, at this stage in the game, that it’s perhaps rather more useful for everyone to see and hear from publishers, rather than have a very small number of lucky authors target their pitches. But as Barbara suggested above, that might happen.

Agents tend to be much more generalist in their approach, and are therefore a better bet for a mixed bag of genres.
 
Guess I'm outvoted! I still think fewer subs of higher quality would be better, but fully understand the points made re who does the screening, do we end up losing 'marmite' subs, etc. I have no sensible ideas re how a screening process would work.
 
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