When people find out I’m a publisher, the statement I most hear is, “Oh, I have a book!” I take a deep breath, because I know that following this exclamation is the most asked question, “So how do I go about getting it published?” The simple, yet hard truth is, just because you wrote a book, doesn’t mean it will (or should) be published. Because these would-be authors literally stumbled upon me as a resource, I try to steer the conversation to a space where the author takes ownership for the following three things:
1) Do your homework. Prior to submitting your award winning manuscript, make sure the publisher wants it. Is your publishing house of choice taking unsolicited work? Are they interested in your genre? What are the submission guidelines? (AND FOLLOW THEM)
2) Follow the submission guidelines. (yes, it’s that important) I once had an author say that formatting the whole book would be too time consuming, so he was submitting three chapters, with no format changes. Well, reading your poorly formatted submission is also too time consuming; so it gets deleted, returned, or destroyed. Your work should look clean and professional. If you want our editors to read it, follow the guidelines.
3) Edit. Edit. Edit. Much of what we receive reads more like a book concept, and not the story an author envisions. Concepts aren’t bad; they’re just not a finished, polished product. While our company would be willing to develop a promising author, we want to see that you’re serious about your craft. For example, we encourage our children’s book writers to join SCBWI where they can get advice from their peers by joining or forming a critique group, attending local/regional meetings, and exploring peer recommended resources. Additionally, it has proven to be an affordable option for newbie authors versus hiring a professional editor.
While this list is by no means all inclusive, it represents 3 major issues I find blocking many manuscripts trying to get my attention. Taking ownership of these simple things will start you off on the right track and with confidence.
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