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Tips for writers 8
The eighth and final set of our new pages of tips for writers
deals with submitting to publishers and agents
Submission to publishers and agents
- Get your work into the best possible shape before you start
submitting it, see Tips for Writers 1.
- Make sure there is a market for your writing and think clearly
about how you should present it, researching what else is being publishing in
that area so you really understand what publishers will be looking for.
- Do your research on publishers and their lists. Make sure any
submission is going to a publishing house which publishes in that area, so for
instance don’t submit a crime novel to publishers without a crime list. Look
at publishers’ websites and consider phoning up to ask for a catalogue to be
sent to you. See also the reference books listed in 40).
- Do your research on agents and their clients. Many agents specify
what they don’t represent (scripts, children’s and science fiction are often
excluded), but try to gauge from their client lists what they might actually
be looking for. This information is available in the
WritersServices agents’ listings, or
you could look at reference books such as the Writers and Artists’
Yearbook, The Writer’s Handbook or Publishers’ Marketplace.
See also Finding an Agent.
- Look for agents who are trying to build up their lists, rather than
those with established client lists. It may be wonderful to think of being
represented by the agents who act for Stephen King or Ian Rankin’s, but you’re
much more likely to get taken on by someone who’s just set up, or a hungry
young agent in a bigger agency.
- Your research into publishers and agencies should encompass what they
say about submissions. Even if you think it makes no sense for them to bar
you in this way, there’s no point in sending your manuscript to a publisher
which does not read its slush-pile or an agent who specifies that no
unsolicited material should be submitted.
- Do your homework and put together a good submission package. See
our page on this. Usually
this should consist of a letter, synopsis or outline and the first three
chapters, as outlined in Your
submission package, but check exactly what is required and send that.
Many American agents ask for a query letter first but British agents often
specify the submission package you should send.
- Unless the publisher or agent is specific about accepting email
submissions, always send your submission by post. It’s just too
tempting for an agent not to print out your submission and why, in fact,
should they have to?
- Make sure you’ve followed all the requirements of
Manuscripts should be double-spaced in a clear font such as 12 point Times
Roman. Send a clean copy of your material, to make sure it doesn’t look as if
it has already done the rounds.
- Use any connection you have when you are submitting material. Try
to send it to a named person at the publishing house or agency, and do mention
that such and such an author or contact suggested you should do so, if you
can. There’s nothing fair about this, but it may help and you need to do
anything you can (in a good way) to draw attention to your submission.
- Don’t give up too easily, as submissions are pretty tough at
present, but if you do find in the end that you are not successful, consider
self-publishing as a serious possibility (see
Tips for Writers 4. Our
WritersPrintShop offers 90 pages of
information on how to go about this.
Tips for Writers 1: Improving
Tips for Writers
2: Learn on the job
Tips for Writers
3: New technology and the Internet
Tips for Writers 4:
Self-publishing - is it for you?
Tips for Writers
5: Promoting your writing (and yourself)
writers 6: Other kinds of writing
writers 7: Keep up to date
© Chris Holifield 2008-9