With all the advice, How To books, blogs and websites about nowadays, it’s amazing, almost shocking, that still there are some wannabee authors who do not take the time or make the effort to put together a good submission when contacting publishers and agents, let alone finding out about how to approach these people correctly.
As an example, the following is a genuine submission recently sent to ThornBerry Publishing:
“I am sending you my story I have written hoping you can see what I see in my story and with your help to be made into a great book. I know with your help we could make a lot of money. People and I mean professionals have told me it would also make a great movie. If you see what I do and can make it into the movie it deserves to be then you could buy it off me, I am willing to do a deal with you. This version has not been proof read though, if needed I can send you the proof read version which was done by my sister. This is my second story though I used to write a lot when I was younger. All I am asking for is the chance I deserve. Please let me know A.S.A.P.”
Needless to say, it was immediately dismissed. It may well have been a brilliant story but, the writer hadn’t even attached the file!
It is imperative when sending your work to publishers and/or agents that you first of all study what type of books they handle, that you follow their submissions guidelines, and if these aren’t readily available online, you contact them and ask what their submission procedures are. In the case of the above, the publisher website clearly states that they are not currently taking new submissions. Ten out of ten for the author for trying regardless – publishers are always on the look out for that “special” saleable bestseller, but wouldn’t look twice at a manuscript that the author has admitted “has not been proof read”.
An “if needed I can send you the proof read version which was done by my sister” won’t help it through the door either. Is the sister a proofreader? Who is this mysterious sister and does the publisher even care? Not in the least. A writer must ensure that what they send in is as good as it can be, is polished until it shines, in short as near as perfect as they can make it.
Another common mistake when submitting to a publisher is to become impatient. It’s time wasting, frustrating and annoying, having taken the time to read the submission, upon asking to see the whole manuscript to be told, “Oh, sorry, I got fed up waiting and self-published it.” Publishers receive hundreds of submissions weekly; these take time to be read and considered. Several months for a response is normal. Be patient. And if you do decide you cannot wait any longer, a quick call or email saying you are going to self publish is not only courteous, it shows professionalism. The publisher may ask you to withdraw the submission, but by doing this you keep on good terms with them and allow yourself the opportunity for future contact.
How you handle a rejection is also important. You might think you have written a word perfect bestseller, the next Gone With the Wind epic, but if the publisher doesn’t consider it saleable or fits their criteria, DO NOT under any circumstance send an email or letter back telling them they don’t know what they are talking about, that they don’t know what they are doing, and that it’s their loss. Vent your spleen on your family, friends and fellow writers but not on the publisher. Accept the rejection, learn from it and move on. Publishers and agents talk to each other, and a bad-mouthed author will not be taken on by anyone. And you never know when paths might cross again.
Always remember to treat publishers and agents with respect as they will you and perhaps, one day, you will receive that message you crave:
“We love it! We want to publish you.”