What’s never easy you ask? Submitting your story to a publisher. Whether it’s your first submission or your hundred-and-first, you’re putting part of yourself out there for someone to judge it. Now a good editor and publishing house, whether they accept your work or not, will give you some feedback on your story. A blanket “no-thank-you” letter is hard; you never know if it just didn’t work for them or if maybe your manuscript needs a rewrite.
Here are a few tips that can make the process a little easier on you and the reviewing editor.
- Put together a complete submission packet which includes:
- the full manuscript (named the story title not “draft one”) with your full name/pen name and contact information on the front page
- a synopsis that doesn’t have cutesy cliffhanger – one paragraph per major plot point is good but really shouldn’t be over three pages
- a cover letter/email that introduces you and your story.
- Make sure that you’re submitting the best manuscript that you can. This doesn’t mean hiring a freelance editor to edit your manuscript before you submit but it does mean if you can find a good beta reader (not your bestie that will tell you everything is great when it might not be) or critique group, make use of them and LISTEN to their feedback.
- Be patient. Most publishing houses these days will get back to you in under 90 days (some even under 30) so wait to hear back from them – if you don’t hear from them, it’s perfectly all right to send a query email regarding the status. A simultaneous submission (submitting your story to more than one publisher at a time) is a sure-fire way to upset publishers and editors. We take the time to read your story and offer feedback but if you send the manuscript to more than one publisher at a time, it’s more than likely you’re wasting someone’s time. Everyone’s time is valuable.
- If you hear back from the publisher and they’ve opted not to accept your manuscript, whether you agree or disagree with their opinion (and be realistic, it is an opinion), arguing with them about it is uncalled for. Also, going on Facebook or a blog and ranting about the decision/opinion is noticed by other authors/publishers/editors. You can thank them for their time and leave it at that or just don’t respond. Getting into a disagreement over the decision can be seen as unprofessional and you want to present the best image you can.
- Remember that if a publisher accepts your manuscript, they are accepting you into their ‘family’. Editors/publishers do make note of how you present yourself online and at conferences. We like when authors have personality and know how to present themselves well – means they’re an asset to the publishing house.
- Read the submission guidelines for the house you are sending your manuscript to. Do your research on the publishing house and make sure that it’s the best fit for your story. Ask around about the publisher. Look online for any feedback on the publisher. Make sure that just because Publisher XYZ says they’ll publish your story that you won’t be caught in an unsavory position.
These are just a few things to watch as you’re finishing up your manuscript and get it ready to face the world without you. Just remember, editors and publishers WANT your manuscript to be the best that it can be; they don’t want you to fail, they want you to succeed.