I’ve heard it said that growing old is not for sissies, but neither is writing. Although my first book is due out in August and I haven’t really been writing for very long, one thing I’ve learned about submitting a manuscript is that it’s important to do what they say.
If writing is you’re passion and publishing is your heart’s desire, then there are some basic things you can do to minimize the obstacles on your pathway to publishing. One of which is to follow their instructions for submission. Agents and acquisitions editors are busy people, who see umpteen jillian manuscripts every year. Unfortunately, many of those that leave their desk and land in the circular file are from aspiring authors who shoot themselves in the foot by simply “NOT” following the publishers’ guidelines.
If you find a publisher or an agent who accepts unsolicited manuscripts, go to their website, pull up their guidelines and follow them to a “T”. If they require a query letter first, send a query letter first. If they request the first three chapters, send the first three chapters. Not two chapters, not five chapters…just the three they asked for.
It may help to print out the guidelines, highlight their requirements and begin to check off what you’ve completed. You’ll know if you’ve done everything they say when all the highlighted requests are checked. When you’ve completed everything, be sure to put it in the proper order, place it in a file or a special binder and mail it. You will also want to have your priceless package sent with a request for tracking and/or a signature confirmation request, depending on the publishers or agents guidelines.
And then you begin the long-drawn-out process of waiting. Again…do what they say. If their guidelines list an eight week wait, then wait at least eight weeks before emailing a follow-up letter. If it says wait four months, then wait four month.
Don’t skip a thing. Just do what they say and you’ll have a greater opportunity to hear the news you’re waiting for.
By the way, if you’re looking for some help to put together a jam up book proposal, Mary DeMuth offers one for nonfiction proposals and one for fiction proposals. Click here for a link to her page.
What did I forget to mention about following guidelines? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?