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Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Year’s Resolution #1 – Submit Work to Publishers

Sounds easy, right? Print off your manuscript, stuff it into an envelope, and plop it in the mail. How hard can this be?

It’s the business end of writing and like most creative folks; it’s what we least like to do. There are rules to follow. Ick. There is planning to be done. Blanch. And patience is required. Groan.

So here, in my humble opinion, are the steps needed to get that manuscript off your computer and into the hands of the gatekeepers of publication – the editors.   

Checklist for Submission: 
  1. Write stellar, out of this world, "no one's heard this story before" book
  2. Edit 100 times
  3. Read to your Critique Group, making copious notes on suggestions
  4. Edit 100 more times, massaging every word and rethinking every comma
  5. Write equally stellar, out of this world, “no one’s heard before” one page Synopsis of your novel
  6. Search the internet for publishers, compiling a list of publishers interested in your genre
  7. Fine tune list to those open to Unsolicited Manuscripts
  8. Read over submission requirements and follow them to a T or t or tea – whatever they ask for, you must painstakingly provide
  9. Write individualised cover letter that will blow away selected editor – seriously. Blow that editor off their chair, into the hallway, and down to the senior editor’s office where they collectively drool over your written words
  10. Mail, email, send by carrier pigeon your submission, as requested by targeted publisher
  11. Wait
  12. Wait and cross fingers – helps to have friends and family cross their digits, too. (This can and should include toes. Just sayin’.)
  13. Wait, cross fingers, toes, arms, legs (find friends who are double-jointed), and most importantly don’t give up hope
 Finally you will be given three possible outcomes –
  •  You will receive an offer for publication – this, of course, is the best outcome. You will receive this news in a calm, professional manner, with slow head nods and a heart-felt thank-you. Or you can scream into the phone, deafening your new-best-friend-editor, and happy dance around your house, with children and dog trailing behind you. Your choice.
  • You will receive a letter requesting further edits – this is not a guarantee of publication, but it keeps the writing hope alive. Hope is key to returning to your computer and pounding away at your manuscript making the next 100 edits, as required by your hopefully, soon to be new-best-friend-editor.
  • You will receive a rejection letter – this, as the name implies, is not what any writer wants to receive. Honestly, it’s what keeps us up at night. However, it is a sign that you are taking the biggest step towards publication – you are submitting your work. Writing that story and shoving it into your top desk drawer will never get it onto a bookstore’s shelf, where we all want to find our books. If you do not give up and keep improving your craft, you will eventually find your new-best-friend-editor.
I have oodles of rejection letters. Some are generic form letters, many are encouraging, and one made my heart shrivel a tiny bit.

But most importantly, I have one acceptance letter. It keeps the hope alive, that one day my books will be printed and bound with beautifully glossy covers.

So, if you’ve written a novel, what are you waiting for? Your new-best-friend-editor is dying to meet you, but you’re going to have to make the first step. How do I know this for sure? Well. I don't. Not exactly, but I have a lot of hope that I'm right. 

And if you’re low on hope, may I suggest finding yourself a supportive writing group? That or a well chilled Pinot Grigio.

Again your choice.


  1. Love that street sign! It's a rough life. Are we insane?!

    While waiting with fingers crossed, don't forget to write the next one.
    No down time for this crazy life.

    Great blog post. Fingers and all other digits crossed for you, Jodi!

  2. Congratulations on the acceptance letter, Jodi! Way to go!

  3. Thanks Sue! Every tiny step counts. :)

  4. Great post, Jodi! I really enjoyed it...
    Most importantly, congrats on the acceptance letter! I've published a book but have never received acceptance. ;) After receiving the first rejection letter, I said, well I won't repeat what I said, and went on to self-publish. Painful, but worth it. Note: ArtBookBindery in Winnipeg is wonderful.

  5. Thanks Janita!
    My acceptance letter was for an article, not a book. If it was for my novel I would've taken out a full page ad in the paper!


  6. Still, it's awesome! Maybe we should buy a paper and fill it with trance-inducing accolades for our collective projects? Both of your manuscripts sound fantastic...I look forward to getting me some copies once they're in print. And they will be.