As we begin a new year, I know many of you are contemplating starting the submission process again after what has probably been a two month break -- November to participate in NaNoWriMo and then with most publishers being closed in December for submissions. And now that submissions are reopening at most houses, you want to get submitting.
Before you do, check out this handy list of dos and don'ts for submissions.
Don't -- Ignore submission guidelines
Do -- Follow submission guidelines because every publisher's guidelines are different.
Tip: By following guidelines, it tells publishers many things about a writer, including how well he/she pays attention, how well he/she follows instructions, how much care he/she puts into their work, how easily he/she will be to work with, etc. All of this also tells us how much he/she is dedicated to their work and their career.
If something in the guidelines is confusing, don't guess. Send a short query outlining your confusion, then submit accordingly. Never take a publishers response as permission to skirt the guidelines.
Do . . . Use the English language as it was intended.
Tip: The above example is okay for your friends, but not for professional correspondence. Also, it doesn't matter if you use American or British spelling, just be sure you're consistent. Don't abbreviate and don't substitute numbers for words. Use proper grammar and punctuation. Be sure your submission is professional before you hit the send key.
Don't . . . Be disrespectful or insulting.
Do . . . Thoroughly read your email before sending to be sure you're conveying the right message, about you and your work.
Tip: Sometimes we say things that sound right in our head as we write them but aren't received how we intended. Look at your words from someone else's perspective to see if they may take those words the wrong way.
Do . . . Follow submissions guidelines regarding follow-up queries.
Tip: If the submission guideline says the house will respond within a given time, allow that time to pass before you send a follow-up. Send a short query asking for the status of the book. Be sure to give the book title, author name (pen name if you also mentioned that), and date you sent the work. Asking, "Are you publishing my book or what?" will almost always result in rejection of the work.
Do . . . Send the first book in a series, or your best work.
Tip: Never send submissions for every book you've written. The publisher will only look at the first submission they receive and delete the rest. If they ask to see something else, only send what they ask for . . . second book in the series, or your next best book if you write single title.
Don't . . . Get on a publisher's black list.
Do . . . Behave professionally.
Tip: By being friendly, positive, gregarious, helpful, etc., this ensures the publisher will become more endeared to you and see you as a professional and forward thinking writer.
And if you're offered a contract, never tell the publisher you're going to wait to see if other offers come in. Simply ask the publisher if you may have a week to consider their generous offer. You will almost always receive a positive reply and agreement. You do not have to tell them why you need the time. Do with it as you will. But never insult the publisher by saying you're waiting for a better offer. If you have a contract offer in your hands now, either take it or don't, but never insult the publisher. Should you ever submit other work to that house, you will find that bridge will have already been burned.
Do . . . Take rejections as an opportunity to learn.
Tip: If your work is rejected, the publisher my tell you why. Use those notes to improve on those areas pointed out to you. You'll find in most cases that it's not that your book isn't any good, but that it's just not ready for the submissions process. You may have missed something in your excitement to submit. Be patient and take some time re-reading through your work. Work with a critique partner who will give you honest and direct help with your work. Then take your newly polished book and start submitting again.
Once you've emailed in your submission, take a break. Play it cool for a while. Be patient. And if you've done everything right, you just may see that contract in your email box!
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Getting it Right, Now Write
* Submissions open at Tirgearr Publishing from 13 January 2015! *