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August 10, 2011

Getting Published: Submission Dos and Don’ts

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , , , — ax20 @ 9:46 am

Querying agents (and publishers) are hard work and many first time writers (and even the more experienced ones) feel at a loss when trying to do it. Here’s some quick tips for how to do it.

Some Dos:

  • Do keep your query to 1-1.5 pages at most
  • Do include a synopsis
  • Do include your manuscript length by word count (and make sure it is appropriate for the book you are writing)
  • Do let your work stand on its own (you telling someone else that you are fantastic will not convince them to take on your book, only the strength of your writing can do that)
  • Do address a specific person whenever possible
  • Do include a brief summary of the work and your writing experience
  • Do proofread everything you send before submitting
  • Do make sure the formatting for your synopsis and sample pages is correct
  • Do mention your market and similar titles (your book can be a cross between one book and another, but there is no way there is nothing remotely similar to it)
  • Do say how your book differs or will stand out from its genre
  • Do make sure to submit all requested materials
  • Do make sure they work with the genre you have written before sending it
  • Do make sure your manuscript is properly formatted before sending it
  • Do go through the agent/publisher’s website before submitting to make sure you haven’t missed anything and have a good sense of what they are looking for

Some Don’ts:

  • Don’t make synopsis longer than 1-1.5 pages (double-spaced!)
  • Don’t insult other agencies or publishing houses
  • Don’t sound arrogant, cocky, or hostile
  • Don’t sound desperate or beg
  • Don’t provide a sample from the middle of the book (if you’re book cannot catch a reader’s attention in the beginning, they don’t want it)
  • Don’t say there are no books out their like yours (let’s be honest, there probably are or they probably don’t exist for a reason)
  • Don’t mass email agents or publishers
  • Don’t write your life story about what inspired you to become a writer (no one needs to hear that when you were three your teacher told you that you had a good imagination)

With so many reasons to reject a manuscript, don’t put yourself out of the running before anyone has read your book at all. If you get the querying process right, you have already improved your odds. Agents and editors would much rather work with someone who knows what they are doing (whether do to experience or good research) to someone who appears too lazy to have made sure to check.

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