If you can get a job - you can get published: One editor's advice to manuscript submissions
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When I first started trying to get my work published, I was intimidated by the many different guidelines various places required. From subject matter to word count and everything in between, publishers are very particular with their requirements.
Now I can understand why.
Publishing companies come in varying sizes from one-(wo)man operations to corporations employing thousands of people worldwide. For the beginning writer, or even the established author venturing out into another area, if you are considering approaching a new (or new-to-you) publisher, I have three pieces of advice to help you get a contract, and I feel fairly confident that I speak for a majority of editors and publishers.
It doesn't matter if you are submitting a short story, a novel, or an article, the following tips apply.
1) Write an entertaining/informative/interesting/must-have piece of work.
I'm not going to add to this because you should only be submitting work if you have taken the time to learn your craft and have done your homework on where to submit.
2) Follow ALL of the submission guidelines.
These guidelines are not optional. Someone, most likely the person making the decisions, has taken a lot of time to map out exactly what they want. Ignore these rules at your peril. Not only will you get a rejection slip, you also risk getting on the publisher's S-List.
Yes, we do have our S-Lists.
Despite what anyone says, writers have all the information they need right in front of them:
· Publisher websites contain the books they publish and display their likes and interests. Does your work fit in?
· The submission guidelines tell you exactly how to present your best work. Can you follow instructions?
· The contact information tells you how and whom you should direct your query/submission. Once again, can you follow instructions?
It doesn't get much clearer than that.
The smart, savvy, PUBLISHED authors can do all of the above.
3) Be professional and businesslike in your approach.
Treat your submissions like you would treat your resume. You are introducing yourself and your best work to a company or their representative in order for them to hire you, or in this case, to offer you a contract. Don’t say you are submitting a piece you had "lying around," or that "no one else seems interested in it so I thought I'd approach you." While this may be true, keep it to yourself!
Think about it. Would you go to a job interview and tell the interviewer: "I was just lying around, looking for a job," or "No one else seems to want to hire me so I thought I'd approach you."
No, you wouldn't. Don't treat your submissions in the same way. Regardless of the size of publishing house, publishing is a business, not a hobby.
Also, don't get cutesy and "creative" when submitting or sending a query. These days 99% of your contact with an editor/publisher may be via email, but that doesn't mean you should write to us in "email speak" or write in all lowercase/all uppercase even if this is your signature "style."
Conversely, don’t come across as pompous. No one wants to deal with a diva.
In the end, and regardless of where you submit your work, first impressions are important. Once—if—you establish a working relationship, things may become a lot more informal, but until that happens, be professional in all your communications with a prospective publisher of your work. After all, they may be your next source of income.
I hope this has been helpful.
See you in the inbox!
Zetta Brown is editor-in-chief at LL-Publications/Logical-Lust. Her debut novel, Messalina - Devourer of Men, has received excellent reviews from The Original ChickLitGurrl, Coffee Time Romance, and Erotica Revealed. A native Texan, Zetta now lives in Scotland with her husband, author and publisher Jim Brown.