Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Behind the Curtain: Five Things I Wish People Knew Before Submitting

Today our guest blogger, publisher Madeline Smoot from CBAY Books, gives us a peek at her the submission process from her side of the table. 
Rejections aren’t fun. They aren’t fun to give, and they are miserable to receive. And yet, many authors guarantee that I will reject their work before they even mail out their manuscript. Here are 5 things you should do to minimize your chance of rejection:
1.     Do Your Research
One of the easiest ways to get rejected is to send your manuscript to some one who doesn’t read your type of work. For example, I only publish fantasy and science fiction novels for children and teens. If you send me a picture book, a historical fiction or a nonfiction book query, I’m going to reject these without even looking at your manuscript. I don’t publish those types of work. There’s no point in sending them to me.

2.     Read My Submission Guidelines
Every publisher and agent has specific submission guidelines that detail how they prefer to receive your submission. Some people want a query letter. Others prefer the full manuscript. No matter what they like, each agent and editor wants to see your submission in the preferred format. To present it in any other way tells us that you didn’t read our guideline or can’t follow directions.

3.     Assume Your Query Is Identical To Everyone Else’s
There is a standard form for query letters. This means that yours probably sounds much like everyone else’s. This isn’t exactly bad, but it does mean there’s a chance that your brilliant manuscript will get overlooked. Some people solve this by ignoring query letters and going right to the manuscript. Others put a great deal of importance in the query letter. It’s a gamble either way.

4.     My Rejection Isn’t Personal
I don’t know you. I’m generally not judging the quality of your book. I’m making a business decision about whether or not I can make a profit with your book. There’s a lot that goes into that decision, including market forecasts and printing costs. The quality and my interest in your manuscript is only a part of this decision.

5.     Learn the Publishing Business
Publishing is a business. Learn it. Study it. You’ll still make mistakes because you are new, but you still will be ahead of your novice colleagues. Take classes about publishing with your local SCBWI. Read books on the subject. Talk to experienced writers. Remember to act professional. It will go a long way with the editors and agents you work with.
Rejection is inevitable in this business, but if you remember these five things, hopefully it won’t be quite as painful.

Madeline Smoot is the publisher of Children's Brains are Yummy Books, a traditional small press focusing on science fiction and fantasy for ages 8 and up.


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