Let me dispel A BIG MYTH before we proceed. There is no magic formula for getting your manuscript accepted, by a publisher/agent. But you can give yourself a fighting chance to succeed by making a knock out submissions bid!
Now, if you’ve read this weeks Blah diaries about me making tons of submission mistakes, I understand that I may not be filling you with the greatest amount of confidence right now. But this is not a ‘Nanny blog‘ I’m one of you guys, I don’t sit on a throne somewhere and claim to have all the answers because I don’t. These posts are honest accounts of stuff that is going on with me right now, trying to do more of what I love to do, which is write, and I don’t always get it right.
So here’s a heads up, of when you’re finally ready to get that third party involved, and avoid making the same mistakes I have.
My TOP TEN for getting to know your submission
1. Know your criteria: Do your homework, read the submissions criteria for EACH AND EVERY publisher/agent, that you think suits the type of book you are submitting, because although most agencies are fairly similar as to what they ask for, they all have slightly different requirements, you’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot if you think it’s a one size fits all game.
2. Know your layout and content: There are standardised layouts to help all over the net, but I think Jackie Marchant’s submission post is perfect! A no fuss, no nonsense, sharp account of what it should look like and entail. Please check it out, oh and her blog’s great too!
3. Know the details: Font: Times Roman numeral, Size of Font:12, Spaced: Double, Format: Word doc or PDF…Follow the guidelines.
4. Know what you are required to send: Do they want to see a cover letter? Do they want three chapters? Do they want to see 50 pages? Do they want a synopsis? CHECK!
5. Know your cover letter: This is your chance to take centre stage at the interview and tell them all about yourself in 60 sec’s flat, cutting the waffle. Keep those grammar/spelling mistakes to a minimum [I should know, lol] And share anything which relates to your writing skills, competitions won, journals magazines participated, qualifications gained. You could also add a couple of lines about why you chose them as a company to represent you. Remember to share the title of your book, and its genre.
6. Know your synopsis: It should be no more than two sides of A4 some agencies require much shorter, so there’s no time for drivel, or boring your agent/publisher to sleep zzzz! Be sure to tell them the END of your fascinating story they’ll want to know, and inform them how your main character changes from beginning to end, as this could entice them to want to read more.
7. Know the warning signs: Non stop waffle, ‘I’m so amazing’ syndrome is not a good look either, spouting useless information, asking for advice BIG NO NO, calling them up may also be annoying, sending gifts is also never a good idea. Aim to keep it professional.
8. Know when it’s time to say goodnight: Then, get it proofread, again, again, and again. Then once more for good measure!
9. Know what’s in your subject box: Each agent/publisher will let you know what you should write in the subject box prior to sending it, if this is wrong they may not even open your letter of submission thinking it’s SPAM, so make sure you double, quadruple check this information is right.
10. Keep writing: If you get accepted congrats!!! But if not, don’t stop trying guys, take notes if you’re fortunate to get some, then try again. Trust me, this is not for the faint hearted, but if your in it for the long run…I’m sure you’ll find a way.