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Turn an editor on, turn an editor off

So what does it for me? As an editor? What can make me want to read your story? I think what I like to look for is what a lot of editors want to see— don’t think it’s really special. Are you ready for the secret to getting an editor’s attention? Here’s the secret….make a good first impression, make it a professional impression. Yup, that’s it.

When you went on your first job interview, what did everyone give you as advice? Dress nicely, be professional. Same thing when submitting to a publishing house whether it’s ManLoveRomance Press (or our het imprint Passion in Print Press or YA/children’s Featherweight Press) or any of the other houses. A professional submission is your first step. You could have the most fabulous plot and interesting characters but if you’ve put the editor in a bad mood first, it’s harder for the story to shine. Format your submission according to the house guidelines. Do they want to see a cover letter/email? Want a synopsis? The full manuscript or a partial?

In your cover letter/email make sure to include: your full name – yes, not the snazzy pen name – if you’re using one; your contact information (address, phone and email), and any previous publishing experience – if you have none, it’s okay to say since everyone starts somewhere.

Synopsis – yes, we read them to get a feel for the manuscript. Just like a reader will most likely read the blurb before they buy a book to see what they’re reading, an editor likes to see a synopsis. We don’t see them as spoilers, and for goodness sake, don’t end a synopsis with a cliff hanger. Don’t leave us guessing because this is one way to turn an editor off.

And then your pride and joy, the manuscript. It’s a good thing to put your contact information on the cover page of the document. Make it easier for us if we want to contact you with that acceptance. It also helps to name your file with your last name and the title of the story (i.e. Smith_LoveForever). That way it’s easy for us to see whose file we’re reading. Are you getting the hint that all these little steps make an editor happy? Puts us in a good mood to read your submission.

Now what happens after it’s been accepted for publication? I did a blog for J.L. Langley a while ago all about “Why editors are good for you” and looking back at that blog, I still hold to it. I view working with an author on their manuscript as a team effort. It’s my job to be the outside eyes to improve any weaknesses that I see WITHOUT losing the author’s or character’s voices. I am a big believer in retaining as much of the author’s voice as possible. What does it mean I sacrifice to keep author’s voice? Grammar. It is important to be as close to grammatically correct as you can be but let’s face it, most people don’t speak or write grammatically correct. Yes, I know, bad editor advocating not being grammatically correct. At MLR we also use line editors and proof readers to pick up anything glaring that gets by the author and the editor.

So…what should you submit? A professionally packaged submission with a cover letter/email, synopsis and manuscript. The manuscript that you submit and the one that gets published, probably won’t match word for word – the story will be there but might have a few more (or less) twists than you had at the beginning. Remember, no one is as invested in producing the best story possible – besides the author of course – than his or her editor.

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