Submitting to a Publisher: Five Golden Rules

Make sure you’re ready

Have you finished writing your novel? Is it in the best shape possible? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you’re ready to submit your manuscript. Don’t waste time by sending out vague ideas or a half-finished novel. Aside from anything else publishers and agents need to know that you have the commitment to complete the book before they take it on. Check your manuscript carefully for spelling and punctuation errors.

Five golden rules for submitting your work to agents or publishers

1. Read the submission guidelines carefully

Make sure your submission meets the publisher’s requirements. Each publisher will have different preferences so don’t assume that one approach will fit all. Make them aware that you’ve paid attention to their requirements and backlist. Sending irrelevant work not only wastes your time but it may hamper your chances of success.

2. Do your research

Don't rely on sending your manuscript out on a whim. Research prospective agents or publishers carefully and decide where your work will sit best. Research the backlist of titles or authors they've represented and demonstrate this in your cover letter. If you don't know where to start, research the publication history of an author whose writing you would compare your own to. Find out who their agent is and continue your research from there. 

3. Don’t turn up unannounced

Never be tempted to ‘drop in’ to see if a publisher or agent has read your manuscript yet. Not only is it invasive, but it’ll also make them far less likely to pick up your submission from the pile.

4. Don’t rely on one submission

If you pin all your hopes on a single submission, you will be disappointed. Instead, research the market carefully and submit your work to as many relevant places as possible. Keep track of your submissions to avoid confusion or repeat submissions.

5. Be patient

Publishers are very busy and receive so many manuscripts each week that it will take time to respond to your submission, if at all. Some publishers may give you an idea of how long it will take to respond, while others may specify that they only reply to the submissions they want to follow up on.

 

Check out Sarah Stewart, director at The Lighthouse Literary Consultancy, offering some advice on how to get agents and publishers to read your book in this blog.