I’m sure you’ve heard that speakers should be writers and writers should also be speakers. So how does a speaker become a writer? First of all, you learn how to write. You attend conferences, take classes, place your masterpiece in the hands of critiquers (who usually don’t love your work nearly as much as you do). You rewrite and edit and rewrite again.
Your manuscript is finally ready. Time to throw your baby to the wolves . . . at least that’s what it feels like. Here are 9 things you can do to help the agent or editor love your baby as much as you do.
- Do your research. I didn’t study the market with my first book. After all, every day I spent studying the market meant one more day that I was withholding this literary masterpiece from the reading public! So instead of studying who wanted what, I simply submitted to every children’s book publisher. I knew that even if they’d never published a children’s mystery, they would certainly want to after reading my manuscript!
Dumb, dumb, dumb. Besides the fact that it made me look like an idiot, it wasted gobs of money–and years–trying to force something that was not going to happen!
Take the time to find the agents and publishers who are specifically looking for your kind of book or article or script, and your chances will greatly increase.
- Send what they want. Carefully read and follow guidelines. Some only want a query. Some want a synopsis and the first three chapters. Others want the full manuscript. Send them exactly what they want. Nothing more, nothing less.
- Be sure to follow word count. Don’t send a 2000 word article when the guidelines clearly state their word count is 600. You’ll be instantly rejected.
- Submit correctly. Does the editor want the submission in a Word document? Pasted into the body of the email? Sent by hardcopy? Do what they say and you’ll get off to a good start.
- Send it to the right person. Be sure to send it to the correct genre editor. Once you’re sure you have the right editor, call the switchboard (NOT the editor!) and confirm that Jane Doe is still the editor for your particular submission. If not, get the correct name, correct spelling, and correct gender.
- Be professional, kind, and appreciative. Don’t write “THIS IS YOUR NEXT BESTSELLER!” in the subject line. Don’t act like you’re doing them a favor by submitting your work. Don’t be too familiar. Thank him for his time and consideration. Be as professional as you’d be for any other job application.
- Format correctly. Since free formatting guidelines are available all over the internet, I won’t list the all the steps to correct formatting for manuscripts, but here are the basics: Double space. Don’t use any fancy fonts or formatting. Use 12 pt font. Number the pages. Use headers.
- Don’t bug the editor to death. At any given time, most editors have hundreds of submissions to consider. If we continually call or write, wanting to know the status of our submissions, we can develop a reputation as a high maintenance writer. And life is too short for editors to take on that extra work.
If you’ve waited the posted amount of time, follow up with a quick email requesting an update. But don’t bug him or her to death. It makes it very easy for them to say no.
- Trust God and His providence. I still have to be reminded of this. Regardless of the cover, the title, the distribution, the changes, and the timing, God is in control. For whatever reason, He can allow the most unlikely book to become the bestseller or the most promising one to fall flat.
It’s our job to write the best book or article or devotion we can possibly write, send it to the most likely publishers, and work hard on marketing and promotion.
It’s ultimately His job to decide what do to with it.
The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,