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Thursday, 16 December 2010

The importance of reading guidelines.

In case you've missed it.

You have been through your manuscript at least a thousand times, have given it to trusted readers who pick up on errors, plot holes, spot typos and wrong grammar or maybe had the help of an editor. You have written a really compelling short and catchy query letter and done the dreaded synopsis. Okay, you are ready to submit. (If you write fiction and haven’t been through these stages yet, don’t even think about submitting. Sometimes, a publisher or agent will answer within a week and ask for a full manuscript. It looks rather bad and unprofessional if you have to tell them your book isn’t even finished yet.)
Now you think the rest is an easy piece of work, right? Wrong!
The next step is one of the most important ones when it comes to finding your book a good home. First off: have you done your research? Here’s a little check list:
  • Is this agent/publisher one with a good reputation, no vanity press or scam agent? Check them on Preditors & Editors
  • Does the publisher/agent take unsolicited manuscripts?
  • Find the guidelines and follow them – no exceptions
  • Do they accept your genre? If they state ‘no Fantasy’, then don’t send your Fantasy novel. It’s unlikely they decide to create a new imprint just for your humble scribblings.
  • How do they want the submission, e-mail, snail mail?
  • What do they want? Only the query, or also the synopsis? Do they want it in the body of the e-mail or attached? Do they want sample pages/chapters? Never send what they don’t ask for. If they want a query, then just send them a query.
  • Finally, give them time. Editors and agents are busy people, especially if they’re open to submissions. They get around 200 to 400 queries or even complete submissions a week. Do not follow up by calling or e-mailing them.  Submissions is a patience game.
Here on Authors on Show, I am responsible for the submissions, meaning I have to decide not only what will be considered for showcasing, but also what will be read before considering. You might be surprised how many people are not capable of reading, understanding and following the FAQs. I will say I hit the delete-button more often than I want to. 50 percent of the submissions have either the link missing, are to the wrong address, addressed to the wrong person or no form of address at all, attached chapters, etc. And very often the letter is riddled with errors and plain rude.
Professional writing, which means, wanting to be a signed book author, is a business – treat it this way.
Good luck to everyone,

Nicole

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