Your submission is your one chance to show what you can do with your writing. In order to maximise your chances of success you need to follow some basic ground rules to make you submission stand out, the most important thing is that you need to get it read.
Your first step is to identify those publishers and agents who specialise in the genre you are writing in. It is hard enough to get published without adding to it so do not send your submission to someone who does not deal in that genre, you are not only wasting their time but yours.
Once you have a list of publishers and agents identify the person responsible for submissions. Most publishers and agents will not accept unsolicited submissions, so it is important to make contact first. Write to the individual person saying that you would like to submit. Emails are acceptable but do not attach any files, people will not open files received from an unknown source. Once you have heard back from them read through the submission guidelines, make sure your submission complies with them. Remember if the guidelines ask for something stick to it.
Prepare a synopsis of your work, show how the characters come together, how they interact, what the storyline will be and how the work came about. Keep this brief it should be no more that two pages.
Presentation is a key element in any submission. You need to make your submission stand out, do not use folders but make sure it is professionally presented. The people who will assess your submission will only look at new submissions after they have taken care of the authors they already represent. This means that your submission will probably be read outside normal office hours such as on the commute to or from work or when travelling so make the submission easy for them to transport in other words, keep it simple.
Make the submission easy to read. Publishers and agents do not want to receive full length manuscripts but they will ask for a section or a number of chapters so make sure you have these polished and ready to send. Bear in mind that using double line spacing and large fonts will increase the size of the submission, so think about the amount that you are submitting, think about how easy is your submission to transport, no one is going to carry three hundred A4 pages with them. Remember most publishers have submission procedures on their websites, read them, apply them, follow them and stick to them, they apply to you.
Do not use photographs poor quality photographs will ruin your submission. If photographs are an integral part of the book mention this in your initial contact, ask them what format and how they would like to receive the images.
Do not send more material than you need or were asked to submit as this will only count against you, you need to show that you can work to guidelines, so prove it.
Once you have submitted, step back and leave alone, do not contact the person you submitted to until at least 6 weeks have passed. Publishers and agents are notorious for the length of time that it takes to get back to you, if in the meantime you receive another offer tell all the places you have submitted to immediately.
No matter if you follow all the steps outlined the most important thing to remember is that it is your writing that will make your submission stand out more than anything else, you need to be your toughest critic.
Most publishers and agents will rarely provide feedback, if they do provide feedback then this means that they are interested so take this feedback onboard. Do not, unless asked to, resubmit the same piece again, even after reworking it therefore you need to make sure your first submission is as good as it can be.
You need to be able to take rejection positively, think why you were rejected, did you submit to the right people, did your submission meet their criteria, did it conform to the submission guide, did you look at the publishers / agents profile, did you address it to the relevant person or was the writing just not good enough.
I do not want to put people off submitting works but the harsh reality is that Agents and publishers receive thousands of submissions per year from prospective authors of which the vast majority of these will never get published. They can only survive by making money and they will only take on works that they consider will bring in a profit. No matter what the literary value of your work if there is no perceived market for it they will reject it.
At the Centre for Creative Practices we are organising a one-day seminar about Getting Published on 7 November 2009. (www.cfcp.ie/gettingpublished.htm)
The Getting Published seminar gives new writers and people interested in publishing an opportunity to meet with leading industry professionals and to gather information on the current publishing options and procedures.
The panel will include a number of speakers, from authors, editors, agents and publishers who are only too happy to share their information and experience with you. Participants include:
- Chris Agee, Editor Irish Pages
- Mary Webb, Senior Editor, O’Brien Press
- Patricia O’Reilly, Author and Creative Writing Tutor, UCD
- Emma Walsh, Literary Agent, Walsh Communications
- Vanessa O’Loughlin, Author, Inkwell Writers’ Workshops
- Miriam Gallagher, Author, Tutor and Writer-in-residence at IADT
This one-day seminar is a mixture of presentations, talks, workshops and question/answer sessions with literary agents, publishers, tutors and authors. Opportunities for networking, discussions and asking your questions are an important aspect of this interactive event. It will cover issues such as planning, presentation, marketing, dealing with agents / publishers, developing your style and improving your writing skills.
The seminar will be followed up by a One-to-One Manuscript Assessment Workshop which will take place in the Centre for Creative Practices before on 28 November 2009.
For more information and to book a place, please contact: