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Tips for Submitting a Book to a Publisher - Check out the Fun Stuff
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Tips for Submitting a Manuscript to a Publisher
Subject your work to the same criteria an editor will use: Who is the audience for this story? Males? Females? Both? What age range? Is the vocabulary appropriate? What differentiates this story from others like it on the market? How would you articulate its selling points if, for instance, you were trying to convince a bookstore owner to stock this book in his store? If you can’t answer all these questions convincingly and authoritatively, your manuscript probably isn’t ready for submission.
Before submitting a manuscript to a publisher, proof it carefully and make the punctuation, grammar and spelling flawless. In the early stages of choosing manuscripts for possible publication, editors will seize every flaw as indications of lack of commitment or professionalism. They are looking not only for great manuscripts, but for writers who understand the business and will be easy to work with.
Get your manuscript in the right hands. No matter how good the content, an editor will discount it if it isn’t the kind of book his company publishes. Visit the reference desk of any local library and peruse a copy of the most recent edition of Writer’s Market. Look under the “Book Publishers” listing, then further narrow the list to categories that apply to your manuscript. Also visit non-book sections of Writer’s Market, such as children’s magazines, that publish children’s stories.
Once you have a list of publishers/agents you think might want to consider your manuscript, write down their contact information. Most want to be contacted via email; be sure to honor their preference. Send a cover letter to the editor/agent. Beginning with the very first sentence, you should convince the editor/agent of two things: 1) you’re a good writer and 2) you have a good idea. Briefly describe the manuscript and your reasons for believing it will be a successful addition to his list. Cite previous writing experience or experience in related fields, such as marketing or work with children. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope, stick it in the mail and hope for the best. If you don’t hear from the editor within a couple of months, call and ask about the status of your manuscript.
Editors who aren’t interested will generally send a very brief form letter saying, in effect, thanks but no thanks. It’s frustrating to be rejected without having any idea why, but that’s the usual procedure. Don’t take it personally. If an editor or publisher does offer specific feedback, take it seriously and consider adapting your manuscript accordingly. Of course, you don’t want to compromise the integrity of your work, but flexibility is key if you want to get published. Editors and publishers aren’t trying to seize control of your work; they just want to make sure it will be marketable.