Having just announced another story sale to the same publisher (although under a different imprint and a different editor), it got me thinking...
Myth: Once you are published with a certain house, anything you submit henceforth is an automatic "in."
Truth: Anything you submit henceforth must still be of publishable quality, must still be marketable, must still give the editor a reason to believe it will make money for the publisher, and a slew of other factors too lengthy to list. This means you could very well receive a rejection. It is not a sure thing--it is never a sure thing until it's under contract. (And even then, unexpected things can happen...)
Question: Then why do so many authors have several works published with the same house?
Answer: Any combination of the following reasons: Because the author keeps submitting quality work. Because the editor already knows and loves the author's style. Because the author was not an asshat the last time around. Because the author's work sold well. Because the initial contract included subsequent books. Etc.
Myth: Once you have worked with an editor or house that has invited you to submit more work, you don't have to write a pitch for it. All you have to do is give them your story.
Truth: You still have to sell your story to them, so you still have to write a pitch. Unless they say, "Just send me the story." But even still then, I would suggest offering a brief pitch or a logline with your submission.
Question: Why do you suggest this?
Answer: Because it keeps your pitching skills sharp. Are you always going to be subbing to the same editors for the entirety of your career? Not likely. Also, it gives the editor an idea of what you're offering before they read page one--it's the perfect opportunity to whet their appetite. If it's a junior editor, and your pitch is well done, they can use it as part of their pitch to their boss. And one final reason (although I'm sure there are more), when working with small presses, especially, you often have to craft your own jacket copy. If you've already written an effective pitch for your story, you are a few steps closer to that goal before you've even signed a contract.
Myth: You don't need beta readers/critique partners to read anything you sub to the same house--the editor will let you know what needs to be fixed.
Truth: This goes hand-in-hand with the first myth mentioned above, but it bears repeating. You always want to submit your best work to any editor, whether it's the first time you're subbing to them or the fiftieth. The editor still has to make a decision on your story's publishable merit, and if you get lazy, no-name-debut-author's sub is going to look a helluva lot better than yours because they are still trying to break into publishing and so have put their blood, sweat, and tears into the story now sitting side-by-side to your "hey, let me know if you like this story I just slapped together in a weekend and didn't bother even proofreading it" submission.
Yes, I'm exaggerating, but it's to make a point. You are not the only author subbing to that editor. Ever. Your story still has to be at its best, shining brighter than the sun, to stand out as worthy of a contract.
The above suggestion goes the same for your agent, if you have one. An agent can help you fine tune your ms before they sub it to editors, but they should not be the first person to see it. You should have beta readers and/or critique partners as your first line of defense against rejection.
(Some of the truths cited above might not be exactly such in the case of a series with very tight deadlines. That is the only exception I can think of.)
Any other questions? Fire away in the comments. I'll do my best to answer, or direct you to someone who can answer.
P.S. Click HERE for an exciting announcement! Thank you, everyone!